Eisenach, Germany is located just 93 miles northeast of Frankfurt and is home to the Wartburg Castle, which was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999. Two prominent figures in history hail from Eisenach; Martin Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach.
Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach on March 31, 1685 and resided there for ten years. Bach along with George Frideric Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Pachelbel were the leading composers of the Baroque Period. The Baroque Period followed the Renaissance and consisted of ornate and heavily ornamented music composed during 1600-1750. Bach’s compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions and over three hundred sacred cantatas of which nearly two hundred survive today.
J.S. Bach was born into a prominent musical family. His father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was the director of the town musicians and all of his uncles were professional musicians. Bach’s mother died in 1694 and his father died eight months later. At age 10, Bach moved in with his oldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach, who was 14 years older and the organist at St. Michael’s Church in Ohrdruf.
The house where Bach was born (Bachhaus) is currently the world’s leading museum about the great composer and his works. The structure is one of the oldest residential buildings in town, constructed around 1456. The property was purchased by the New Bach Society (Neue Bachgesellschaft) in 1906 and converted into a museum which opened to the public in 1907. In 1928 however, it was discovered through tax records that Bach was not born in this house but the museum remained as a memorial site to him. During 2005-2007, a modern wing was added (Penkues Building) and the historical building underwent restoration.
The exhibits lead visitors through Bach’s life and include such items as his goblet, furniture, instruments from the Bach era, the composer’s actual works and a step-by-step forensic reconstruction of Bach’s head. There are approximately 250 exhibits displayed in the museum. In addition to the original exhibits, there are live performances at hourly intervals on a clavichord, a harpsichord and an organ. Visitors can also chose to listen to recorded music on headphones while relaxing in one of the modern “bubble chairs.”
There is a gift shop where you can purchase recordings, books and posters. If you are feeling hungry, stop by the Café Kantate for a quick snack.
The museum is open daily from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Expect to spend an hour or two exploring the museum and immersing yourself in Bach’s life and his contributions to the musical world. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience for all music lovers.
Address: Frauenplan 21, o-5900 Eisenach