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Guide to Bach Tour
Altenburg
[V]

Contents

Description | History
J..S. Bach: Connection | Events in Life History | Performance Dates of Vocal Works | Festivals & Cantata Series
Features of Interest | Information & Links | Town Guide
Photos: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Maps

Description

Altenburg is a town in the German federal state of Thuringia, 45 km south of Leipzig. It is the capital of the Altenburger Land district. Altenburg is bounded by Windischleuba, Nobitz, Saara, Altkirchen, Göhren, Lödla, Rositz, Wintersdorf and Gerstenberg.

Country: Germany | State: Thuringia | District: Altenburger Land | Area: 45.60 km˛ | Population: 37,200 (December 2006)

History

The town (civitas Altenburg) was first mentioned in a deed to the Bishop of Zeitz in 976. Remains of a Slavic castle on the Schloßberg demonstrate that the town was probably a Slavic foundation, the capital of the shire of Plisni, taken over during the conquest of Meißen by Henry I. As shown by place names, the surrounding area (Osterland) was mainly settled by Slavs.

The town's location on the imperial road between Halle and Cheb in Bohemia gave Altenburg economic importance in the salt trade.

The first castle, located under the present day church St. Bartholomäi, was destroyed after the Battle of Hohenmölsen between Henry IV and Rudolph of Swabia. It was rebuilt on the Schloßberg outside of the town. The 11th century Mantelturm tower is still preserved. The castle later became an imperial palatinate and played an important part in the German takeover and settlement of the area between the Harz-mountains and the Elbe.

In the middle of the 12th century, the Hohenstaufen emperors patronized Altenburg, allowing the town to become a market and a mint. Together with the Royal forests Leina, Pahna, Kammerforst and Luckauer Forst, lands of the Groitzsch family bought by Frederick Barbarossa, Altenburg, Colditz, Zwickau and Chemnitz were turned into the Terra Plisnensis. Altenburg and Chemnitz as Imperial towns were intended to reduce the importance of Leipzig held by the Margrave of Meißen. Under Frederick Barbarossa much building took place, especially in the market area, and the town grew rapidly. An Augustine priory was founded and the church was finished in 1172. The twin towers (Rote Spitzen) are still preserved. A town wall was constructed at the end of the 12th century.

During the Interregnum, the Terra Plisnensis was impounded, but bought back by Rudolph I of Germany, who desired the crown of Thuringia. Together with Zwickau and Chemnitz, Altenburg was part of the anti-Meißen Pleiße-city Union of 1290. After the Battle of Lucka in 1307 against Friedrich (der Freidige) of Meißen and his brother Diezmann, King Albert I lost Altenburg and the Pleiße-lands to the margraves of Meißen.

In 1455 Altenburg saw the division (Altenburger Teilung) of the Meißen lands between Elector Frederick II (the Gentle) and Duke Wilhelm that led, after a failed attempt at reconciliation (Hallescher Machtspruch) to a war (1446-1451) between the two brothers (Bruderkrieg). In the second division of the Wettin lands between Ernest and Albert at Leipzig in 1485, Altenburg fell to Erenst, together with the Electorate (Kurland), Grimma, the Mutschener Pflege, Leisnig, Thuringia and the Vogtland. From this time on, Altenburg was historically connected with Thuringia. During the Peasants' War of 1525, the Altenburg Augustine monastery was attacked. In the summer, four peasant rebels were executed at the marketplace.

From 1603-1672 Altenburg was the residence of the Ernestine line, after that, it fell to Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. During the Napoleonic wars it was a scene of a brief Allied raid by the Saxon General Johann von Thielmann. When the Ernestine lands were re-divided in 1826, Altenburg became the capital of Saxe-Altenburg. The last duke abdicated on 13 November 1918 after being promised 12 million Marks and the ownership of numerous castles. The free-state Saxe-Altenburg was merged with Thuringia in 1920.

During World War II, several subcamps of the Buchenwald concentration camp were located here. They provided slave labour for HASAG, the third largest Germany company to use concentration camp labour.

In 1952, Altenburg fell to the Leipzig District, but became part of Thuringia again in 1990.

Altenburg - The town of skat and playing cards

The Altenburgians were always fond of playing cards. Playing cards have been manufactured in this town for over 400 years. The once predominant French card games I'Hombre, Tarok and Solo lost their popularity during the Napoleonic wars and were replaced by "Schafskopf' (literally "sheep's head") which was introduced from the area around the Ore Mountains (in southern Saxony) and Bavaria. In the years following this the A Itenburgians improved the game and introduced new rules that took the game its elements of chance and made it more intellectually challenging. Since 1813 the game has been called "Skat", after the cards "which have been put aside" in the French Tarok game. After the Skat's steady growth in popularity, the First Skat Conference was held atAltenburg in 1886. In 1832 the Bechstein card manufactory was founded which became Gennany's biggest producer of playing cards by the turn of the century. In 1903 the Altenburg citizen Albert Steudemann donated the "Skatbrunnen" (skat fountain) which can still be seen on Briihl square. Since 1927 the "Skat court" has its headquarters in Altenburg and judges in disputes which are brought forward trom all over the world. And there is another trump that Altenburg has to offer: since 1923 the castle houses one of the most beautiful collections of playing cards in the world.

Chronicle of Events

976
1132
1172

1180

1445

1446
1455
1485

Altenburg is mentioned for the first time in historic documents
Altenburg is mentioned as "Kaiserpfalz Castrum Plysn"
Kaiser Friedrich I Barbarossa consecrates the Augustiner Chorherren foundation "Unserer lieben
Frauen St. Marien" which is known today as the Roten Spitzen (red speyers )
In the Palatinate of Altenburg, Barbarossa enfeoffs Count Palatine Otto von Wittelsbach with the
duchy of Bavaria
Elector Friedrich and Duke Wilhelm split the possessions of the ruling Wettiner family between
them
As a result of this a five year long war between the brothers flares up during that year
Kunz von Kauffimgen abducts the Princes Ernst and Albrecht to enforce his demands
The state ofKursachsen is getting divided between Elector Ernst and Duke Albrecht

From 1522 onwards

The church reformer Martin Luther visits Altenburg about 16 times and supports reformatory matters in the town

1603

1672

Altenburg becomes the capital and residencial city after foundation of the duchy
Saxonia-Altenburg
The duchy ofSaxonia-Altenburg goes to Duke Ernst der Fromme (Ernst the Pious) of Saehsen-Gotha

1826

1895-1920

1826 Altenburg becomes once again the capital and residencial city of the duchy
SaxoniaAltenburg
Altenburg has got a tram system

1920
1945
1990

Altenburg becomes part of the state of Thuringia
Altenburg is occupied first by the American and later by the Russian army
After the political changes in East Gennany Altenburg becomes part of the state of Thuringia once again

Notable People

Gerhard Altenbourg
Frederick I Barbarossa (1122-1190), King of Germany (1152), King of Italy (1154), Holy Roman Emperor (1155), King of Burgundy (1178)
Georg(e) Spalatin (Georg Burkhardt) (1484-1545), importfigure in the history of the Reformation
Kaspar Bienemann (AKA Melissander) (1540-1591), Lutheran theologian and hymn writer
Philipp Avenarius (c1553-1610), composer and organist
Gottfried Scheidt (1593-1661), composer and organist
Christian Friedrich Witt (c1660-1716), composer, music editor and teacher
Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780), Baroque musician and composer primarily for the pipe organ
Tobias Heinrich Gottfried Trost (c1680-1759), Organ builder, residence in altenburg in 1718 and court builder there in 1723
Johann Georg August Galletti (1750-1828), historian and geographer
Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus (1772-1823), encyclopedia publisher and editor; famed for publishing the Conversations-Lexikon, which is now published as the Brockhaus encyclopedia
Baron Bernhard August von Lindenau (1780-1854), lawyer, astronomer, politician, and art collector
Carl Daniel Adolph Douai (1819-1888), notable German Texan; an educational reformer, abolitionist, newspaper editor, and labor leader
Hermann Schlegel (1804-1884), ornithologist
Hans Georg Conon von der Gabelentz (1840-1893), general linguist and sinologist
Ingo Schulze (b 1962), writer

 

Bach Connection

In September 1739 J.S. Bach was asked in Altenburg as organ specialist. The organ in the Palace Church (Schloßkirche) was built by the Thuringian organ building master Tobias Heinrich Gottfried Trost (c168o-1759) in a period of 4 years. J.S. Bach praised the organ.

A couple of years after J.S. Bach's death, his pupil Johann Ludwig Krebs became a court organist in Altenburg and carried on the Bach tradition. He stayed there from 1756 until his death in 1780. Today concerts are also performed in the Palace Church. One of the halls is named after Bach.

Events in Life History of J.S. Bach

Date/Year

Event

Leipzig (1731-1740)

Sep 1739

Organ examination and recital in Schloßkirche, Altenburg: Trost Organ (1739) [new: 38, II, P]

Performance Dates of J.S. Bach’s Vocal Works: None.

Bach Festivals & Cantata Series: None.

 

Features of Interest

The town was one of the few to escape relatively unscathed from the damages wrought during the Second World War. However, in the decades after the war a good many streets and houses were demolished or fell into disrepair. Projects are afoot to put a stop to this process. The town's hillside location, with steep streets running up and down hill, lends Altenburg a certain charm and affords visitors some pretty views.

Altenburg's town hall is one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Germany. It was built between 1562 and 1564 by the architect Nikolaus Grohmann. The Schenkendorffsches Palais (1724) and the Alte Amtshaus (1725) are remarkable Baroque structure. There is also a castle, which is the scene of the famous "Prinzenraub", related by Carlyle in his "Miscellanies". The Western main wing (1706-1732) contains an exhibition on the history of playing cards and card games and a historical museum. The Lindenau Museum in the palace of Bernhard August von Lindenau (1799-1854), built in 1875 houses Italian paintings of the 13th-15th centuries, a collection of classical antiquities and cast and modern art.

Rathaus and Markt
Brühl, the oldest square in the town
Schloß, including the Schloßlkirche (Palace Church), where J.S. Bach examined the organ and gave a recital.
Lindenau-Museum

See detailed description and photos at: Town Guide

Information & Links

Altenburger TourismusInformation
der Altenburger Skatschule GmbH
Markt 17
D- 04600 Altenburg
Tel: +49-3447 / 512800 | Fax : +49-3447 / 519994
Website: http://www.altenburg-tourismus.de
E-mail: info@altenburg-tourismus.de

Stadt Altenburg (Official Website) [German]
Altenburg-Online [German]
Altenburg (Meinestadt) [German]
Altenburg Tourismus [German]
Altenburg (Wikipedia) [German/English]
Cityreview: Thüringen > Altenburg [German]

 

Prepared by Aryeh Oron (March 2004 - March 2011)

Guide to Bach Tour: Main Page | Life History of J.S. Bach | Performance Dates of J.S. Bach’s Vocal Works | Maps | Route Suggestions | Bach Organs | Discussions of Bach Tour
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Last update: ýMarch 27, 2011 ý14:48:14