Things to do in Leipzig: Notenspur music trail

The Leipzig Music Trail (Notenspur) was established in 2012 to celebrate the rich history of Leipzig's classical music scene.

Originally proposed as an UNESCO initiative to acknowledge Leipzig as a historical music city, the Notenspur project has grown to include two short walking trails, and one longer cycling trail.

Metal ribbons indicate directions in the pavements along the trail.

Leipzig's musical history

Many famous conductors, composers and musicians have called Leipzig home over the years, including Wagner, Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Mahler, Grieg, Janáček, and many more.

Bach and Mendelssohn taught and performed for many years in Leipzig, and both are remembered with museums and festivals, as well as with music schools in their names.

Leipzig Concert Hall (Neues Gewandhaus), Germany.
Leipzig Concert Hall (Neues Gewandhaus), Germany. | Source

Leipzig Concert Hall (Neues Gewandhaus)

The current Leipzig Concert Hall (Gewandhaus) opened in 1981, after outgrowing two previous locations. The main hall seats 1900, the smaller Mendelssohn Hall, seating 500, is used mostly for chamber music performances and seminars.

Designed by Rudolf Skoda, the hall was tested by the army during construction, firing weapons to test the maximum acoustics. The Concert Hall has a massive 6638 pipe Shuke organ, inscribed with the orchestra's motto (True pleasure is a serious business):

Res severa verum gaudium

The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, established with a small group of 16 musicians in 1743, was most famously conducted by Felix Mendelssohn from 1835 until his death in 1847.

The orchestra has performed premiers of many famous works, including:

  • Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5
  • Bach's Concerto for Three Pianos and Orchestra in D Minor
  • Schubert's "Great" C Major Symphony
  • Schumann's Symphonies 1, 2 and 4
  • Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony and Violin Concerto in E minor (both conducted by Mendelssohn himself)
  • Brahms' German Requiem and Violin Concerto in D major
  • Dvorak's Cello Concerto in A major

With over 200 recorded CDs, the Gewandhaus Orchestra also performs regularly with the St. Thomas Boys Choir and with the Leipzig opera, and has performed almost 100 New Year's Eve concerts.

The Gewandhaus Choir, Gewandhaus Children's Choir, and various music ensembles, also reside in the Concert Hall.

MDR Cube and Leipzig University, Germany.
MDR Cube and Leipzig University, Germany. | Source

The MDR cube, attached to the concert hall, is used for rehearsals and recording.

With its own symphony orchestra (once conducted by Richard Strauss), plus adults' and children's choir, the groups perform regularly, tour locally and internationally, and have a hectic CD and radio recording schedule.

Leipzig Opera

The Leipzig Opera was founded in 1693, but has moved halls multiple times. Georg Philipp Teleman composed and directed many operas during his time at this stage, which later featured famous such conductors as Arthur Nikisch and Gustav Mahler.

The bust of Wagner survived the destruction of 1943, and stands in the foyer of the New Leipzig Opera, which opened in 1960, built on the site of the previous theatre.

Seating 1682 audience members, with one balcony and two VIP boxes, the Leipzig Opera hosts theatre performances, operas, musicals, musical comedies, concerts and the Leipzig ballet. The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Leipzig Opera House Choir accompany many performances.

See more backstage photos of the Leipzig Opera

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Leipzig Opera and Augustusplatz, Germany.The foyer in the Leipzig Opera, Germany.Seating plus balcony in the Leipzig Opera, Germany.Knocking down a set, on stage at the Leipzig Opera, Germany.Dandelion light in the Leipzig Opera, Germany.Wagner's bust survived the destruction of the way, Leipzig Opera, Germany.
Leipzig Opera and Augustusplatz, Germany.
Leipzig Opera and Augustusplatz, Germany. | Source
The foyer in the Leipzig Opera, Germany.
The foyer in the Leipzig Opera, Germany. | Source
Seating plus balcony in the Leipzig Opera, Germany.
Seating plus balcony in the Leipzig Opera, Germany. | Source
Knocking down a set, on stage at the Leipzig Opera, Germany.
Knocking down a set, on stage at the Leipzig Opera, Germany. | Source
Dandelion light in the Leipzig Opera, Germany.
Dandelion light in the Leipzig Opera, Germany. | Source
Wagner's bust survived the destruction of the way, Leipzig Opera, Germany.
Wagner's bust survived the destruction of the way, Leipzig Opera, Germany. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
St. Nikolai Church, Leipzig, Germany.St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, Germany.
St. Nikolai Church, Leipzig, Germany.
St. Nikolai Church, Leipzig, Germany. | Source
St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, Germany.
St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, Germany. | Source

Famous churches in Leipzig

St. Nikolai church

The earliest built sections of the St. Nikolai church were completed in 1165, but the church has been extended multiple times since then. St. Nikolai is closely linked to St. Thomas, and holds many concerts, including Bach organ and choral works.

The first performance of the St. John Passion by Bach, was on Good Friday in 1724, in St. Nikolai, by Bach himself.

St. Thomas Church

Built in the early 1200s, St. Thomas contains 2 large organs, the first of which (the little organ) was built in 1489. The larger organ was first built in 1511, but it was later upgraded. Mozart performed on this organ in 1789.

The St. Thomas Boys School and Choir (Thomanerchor) were established 800 years ago, and were led by Bach from 1723 until his death in 1750. Because of his long and close connection to St. Thomas, Bach is buried in the church, and you can visit his grave.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Bach Museum, Leipzig, Germany.The front of Mendelssohn House, Leipzig, Germany.The courtyard of Mendelssohn House, Leipzig, Germany.Schumann House, Leipzig, Germany.GRASSI Museum of Musical Instruments, Leipzig, Germany.
The Bach Museum, Leipzig, Germany.
The Bach Museum, Leipzig, Germany. | Source
The front of Mendelssohn House, Leipzig, Germany.
The front of Mendelssohn House, Leipzig, Germany. | Source
The courtyard of Mendelssohn House, Leipzig, Germany.
The courtyard of Mendelssohn House, Leipzig, Germany. | Source
Schumann House, Leipzig, Germany.
Schumann House, Leipzig, Germany. | Source
GRASSI Museum of Musical Instruments, Leipzig, Germany.
GRASSI Museum of Musical Instruments, Leipzig, Germany. | Source

Musical museums in Leipzig

Bach Museum and Archive

Opposite St. Thomas Church is the Bach Museum and Archive, featuring permanent exhibitions about the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The museum houses original manuscripts, instruments and paintings, as well as special exhibitions, especially about his teaching and performances with St. Thomas.

The building also houses research groups and a library dedicated to everything and anything about Bach. With regular concerts around Leipzig throughout the year, a yearly festival and biannual competition, the Bach Archive sponsors many musicians, especially organists!

Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm

♫ Author at Hubpages and trombonist, David M. Guion (allpurposeguru) has written an interesting music history book about Carl Traugott Queisser, who was a trombonist, violist, violinist, and musical leader during Mendelssohn's time in Leipzig.

Mendelssohn House

This is the last surviving home of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

Although he was appointed musical director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1835, and regularly performed in the Concert Hall and churches, Mendelssohn did not move to Leipzig until 1845, and remained in this house until his death in 1847.

Meldelssohn house has been restored as a museum, and with conductor Kurt Masur, offers piano and chamber music masterclasses (by invitation and application). Concerts are held in Mendelssohn House's music salon regularly.

Open: 10am - 6pm

Test your knowledge ...

Schumann House

For the first 4 years after marrying, Robert and Clara Schumann lived in Leipzig, while performing, studying, and teaching.

The museum has restored the original living quarters and study area, and is attached to an elementary school, with a focus on music and the arts.

Open: Wednesday - Friday, 2pm - 5pm; Saturday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Schumann's Piano Sonata No.2 in G minor was featured in Nodame Cantabile, and other pieces by Schumann were featured in Piano no Mori and La Corda d'Oro, three fabulous anime series about music students.

GRASSI museum of musical instruments

With over 5000 instruments, dating from the 1600s, and interactive exhibitions, this museum fascinates children and adults alike. Originally opened in 1886, the collection of instruments now belongs to the University of Leipzig.

Permanent and special exhibits feature a range of instruments from Europe and the world, and include one of the oldest original pianos, built in 1726 by inventor Bartolomeo Cristofori.

Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm

Leipzig's music trail

show route and directions
A markerLeipzig Opera and Concert Hall -
Augustusplatz 8, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

B markerGRASSI Museum of Music Instruments -
Johannisplatz 5, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

C markerPaulinum Church, Leipzig University -
Paulinum, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

D markerMendelssohn House -
Goldschmidtstraße 12, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

E markerBach Museum -
Goldschmidtstraße 12, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

F markerSchumann House -
Schumann-Haus, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

G markerSt. Nikolai Church -
Nikolaikirchhof 3, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

H markerSt. Thomas Church -
Thomaskirchhof, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

I markerMendelssohn Music Conservatory -
University of Music and Theatre Leipzig, Grassistraße 8, 04107 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

J markerOld Town Hall and Museum -
Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, Markt 1, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Mendelssohn Conservatory of Music, Leipzig, Germany.Leipzig University and the Paulinum Church, Germany.
The Mendelssohn Conservatory of Music, Leipzig, Germany.
The Mendelssohn Conservatory of Music, Leipzig, Germany. | Source
Leipzig University and the Paulinum Church, Germany.
Leipzig University and the Paulinum Church, Germany. | Source

Music schools in Leipzig

Mendelssohn Music Conservatory

Lepzig's Music Conservatory was founded by Felix Mendelssohn in 1843 (the Hochschule für Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy").

Many famous performers and composers have studied or worked at the school, including Robert Schumann, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Edvard Grieg, Leoš Janáček, Julius Röntgen (also born in Leipzig), Sir Adrian Boult, and Steffen Schleiermacher.

Students regularly perform around Leipzig as soloists and in various ensembles.

Leipzig University and the Paulinum Church

Several famous musicians, composers and conductors studied and taught at Leipzig University, including Telemann, Wagner, Hiller and Schumann. The university has its own symphony, smaller ensembles and choirs, adding to the music tradition surrounding Augustusplatz.

Mendelssohn's funeral was held in the old University church, which was later destroyed. A small chapel is integrated with the university building in a stunning, modern glass design.

Musical monuments, meeting and performance places

There are a number of monuments and meeting points around the city, dedicated to its famous musicians and composers.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wagner's monument, near the Leipzig Opera, in Leipzig, Germany.Bach's monument, outside St. Thomas Church, in Leipzig, Germany.Mendelssohn's monument, near St. Thomas Church, in Leipzig, Germany.Zöllner's monument, Leipzig, Germany.Mahler's house, commemorative plaque, in Leipzig, Germany.Grieg's meeting place, commemorative plaque, in Leipzig, Germany.The Coffee Tree, Leipzig, Germany.The back of the old town hall, Leipzig, Germany.
Wagner's monument, near the Leipzig Opera, in Leipzig, Germany.
Wagner's monument, near the Leipzig Opera, in Leipzig, Germany. | Source
Bach's monument, outside St. Thomas Church, in Leipzig, Germany.
Bach's monument, outside St. Thomas Church, in Leipzig, Germany. | Source
Mendelssohn's monument, near St. Thomas Church, in Leipzig, Germany.
Mendelssohn's monument, near St. Thomas Church, in Leipzig, Germany. | Source
Zöllner's monument, Leipzig, Germany.
Zöllner's monument, Leipzig, Germany. | Source
Mahler's house, commemorative plaque, in Leipzig, Germany.
Mahler's house, commemorative plaque, in Leipzig, Germany. | Source
Source
Grieg's meeting place, commemorative plaque, in Leipzig, Germany.
Grieg's meeting place, commemorative plaque, in Leipzig, Germany. | Source
The Coffee Tree, Leipzig, Germany.
The Coffee Tree, Leipzig, Germany. | Source
The back of the old town hall, Leipzig, Germany.
The back of the old town hall, Leipzig, Germany. | Source

Monuments

  • Bach monument
  • Mendelssohn monument
  • Wagner monument
  • Schubert monument
  • C.F. Zöllner monument

  • Clara Wieck's birthplace (later Clara Schumann)
  • Gustav Mahler's residence

Meeting and performance places

  • Edvard and Nina Grieg's meeting place during performances
  • The Coffee Tree (Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum) - one of the oldest cafes and favourite meeting place of Robert Schumann.

  • Old Town Hall, in the center of the city on the Market Square hosts occasional a capella and ensemble performances, and has two rooms devoted to music in its museum.
  • Gohlis Manor, north of the city center, hosts chamber music performances on the 1st, 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month.

Leipzig's musical monuments and meeting places

show route and directions
A markerZöllner's monument -
Louise-Otto-Peters-Platz, 04105 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

B markerWagner's monument -
Georgiring 14, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

C markerBach's monument -
Bach Monument, Thomaskirchhof 15/16, 04013 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

D markerMendelssohn's monument -
Dittrichring 11, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

E markerSchubert's monument -
Edvard-Grieg-Allee, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

F markerMahler's house -
Gustav-Adolf-Straße 40, 04105 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

G markerClara Wieck's (Schumann) birthplace -
Preußergäßchen, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

H markerGrieg's meeting place -
Talstraße 10, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

I markerThe Coffee Tree -
Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum, Kleine Fleischergasse 4, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

J markerGohlis Manor -
Schlößchenweg, 04155 Leipzig, Germany
[get directions]

Gohlis Manor in Leipzig, Germany.
Gohlis Manor in Leipzig, Germany. | Source

Classical music festivals in Leipzig

Festival
Date
A capella festival
mid-April
Wagner Festival
mid-May
Bachfest
mid-June
Gewandhausorchester Open Air
mid-June
Classic Open Festival
August
Mendelssohn Festival
September
Schumann Festival
October
Leipzig International Chamber Music Festival
late November

Leipzig's sights and attractions

Leipzig has it's share of non-musical sights and attractions.

One of the best is the Leipzig Zoo - a fantastic one or two day trip for adults and children, and a world leader in protecting and breeding endangered species.

Packed with exotic and endangered animals in wide (and often shared) enclosures, glass and open-air viewing areas let you get up close and personal with the animals.

The Zoo is continually expanding, the newest addition being the huge tropical Gondwanaland enclosure. Development is beginning on the new South America extended exhibit.

The Notenspur ribbon marks a 5km music trail around the eastern inner city, Leipzig, Germany.
The Notenspur ribbon marks a 5km music trail around the eastern inner city, Leipzig, Germany. | Source

Comments

Who's your favorite classical composer?

What's your favorite piece of classical music?

Let us know in the comments below!

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3 comments

klarawieck 4 years ago

Well, this put a giant smile on my face. Thank you! I can't wait to go visit. I'll need about a month to do and see everything. Very well researched and presented.


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rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

This looks like a beautiful and interesting city to visit. Such beautiful music. Thanks for sharing!Lovely scenery. I don't get to travel abroad much so I really appreciate this.


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allpurposeguru 3 years ago from North Carolina

I have come across this hub now for the second time and enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. Since then, I have written an ebook on musical Leipzig in Mendelssohn's time through the career of Carl Traugott Queisser. He was principal violist in the Gewandhaus orchestra, sometime violist in the world's first financially successful string quartet, vioninist and sometime concertmaster in the Euterpe (Leipzig's second orchestra), and a world-renowned trombone virtuoso, among his other activities. I'm sending a link separately and would be grateful if you would let your readers know about it. Thanks again for a beautifully conceived and written hub.

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    nifwlseirff profile image

    Kymberly Fergusson (nifwlseirff)677 Followers
    89 Articles

    Kymberly moved to Leipzig in 2011, and loves the music, arts, old buildings and wildlife in the 'little city' (small compared to Melbourne).



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