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Guide to Bach Tour
Merseburg
[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
Photos | Maps

Description

Merseburg is a town in the south of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt on the river Saale, approx. 14 km south of Halle (Saale). It is the capital of the Saalekreis district. It had a diocese founded by Archbishop Adalbert of Magdeburg. Merseburg is the seat of the Verwaltungsgemeinschaft ("collective municipality") of Merseburg. The University of Merseburg is located within the town.

Country: Germany | State: Saxony-Anhalt | District: Saalekreis | Area: 42.10 km˛ | Population: 34,600 (December 2008)

History

Merseburg was first mentioned in 850. King Henry the Fowler built a royal palace at Merseburg; in the 933 Battle of Riade, he gained his great victory over the Hungarians in the vicinity.

Thietmar of Merseburg became the first archbishop of the newly-created bishopric of Prague in Bohemia, appointed in 973. Prague had been part of the archbishopric of Mainz for a hundred years before that. From 968 until the Protestant Reformation, Merseburg was the seat of the bishop of Merseburg, and in addition to being for a time the residence of the margraves of Meissen, it was a favorite residence of the German kings during the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. Fifteen diets were held here during the Middle Ages, when its fairs enjoyed the importance which was afterwards transferred to those of Leipzig. The town suffered severely during the Peasants' War and also during the Thirty Years' War.

From 1657 to 1738 Merseburg was the residence of the dukes of Saxe-Merseburg, after which it fell to the Electorate of Saxony. In 1815 following the Napoleonic Wars, the town became part of the Prussian Province of Saxony.

Merseburg is the site where the Merseburg Incantations were rediscovered in 1841. Written down in Old High German, they are hitherto the only preserved German documents with a heathen theme. One of them is a charm to release warriors caught during battle, and the other one is a charm to heal a horse's sprained foot.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Merseburg was transformed into an industrial site, which is largely due to the pioneering work done by people like Carl Bosch and Friedrich Bergius, who laid down the scientific fundamentals of the catalytic high-pressure ammonia synthesis from 1909 to 1913. Enterprises, too, blazed a trail in the course of the transformational process. Finally, a chemical park emerged which is one of the most modern sites of its kind in Europe with high ecological standards.

Merseburg was badly damaged in World War II. In 23 air raids 6,200 dwellings were completely or partly destroyed. The historic centre was nearly completely destroyed.

Briefly part of Saxony-Anhalt after the war, it was then administered within Bezirk Halle in East Germany. It became part of Saxony-Anhalt again during the reunification of Germany.

Chronicle of Events

830/850
After 919
933
955
968
1004
1015
1021
1188

1252
1289
1323
1426
c1470
1543
1545
1605-1608
1656-1738
1815

1825
1841
1853-1855
1916/1917
1936/1937
1945
1954
1955
1968
1989
1990
1992
1994
1998

2004
2006
2007

First mentioned in Hersfelder Zehntverzeichnis
King Heinrich I (Henry the Fowler) Merseburg can expand to the Palatinate
King Heinrich I gained his great victory in the Battle of Riade over the Hungarians in the vicinity
Otto I established a Diocese
Erection of the Diocese of Merseburg
Heinrich II, newly founded after a temporary lifting of the Diocese
Groundbreaking for a new building of the Dom (Cathedral)
Cathedral consecration
Kaiser Friedrich I Barbarossa registered at Neumarkt
First mention of the Neumarktkirche
Last residence attested by a German ruler in Merseburg
First mention of a civil government on the seal on the document first appears in Stadtwappen
The first of six major city fires
The city joined the Hanseatic League
Late Gothic Schlossneubau (Royal Palace)
Beginning of the Reformation in Merseburg
Martin Luther preached in the Cathedral
Profound conversion and extension of the Castle
Merseburg is the residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Merseburg
The town is awarded by the Vienna's Prussian Congress
The town became part of the Prussian Province of Saxony
The Provinzialständetag, Parliament of the Prussian Province of Saxony, the first time together
Discovery of the Merseburg Incantations in Domstiftsbibliothek
Reorganization of the Cathedral organ by Friedrich Ladegast
Construction of the Ammonia plant in Merseburg (later Leuna plant)
Construction of the Buna plant
The town is badly damaged in World War II
Construction of the Technischen Hochschule Leuna-Merseburg (Technical College)
The housing is focused on the suburbs
Beginning of the "socialist reconstruction" of large parts of the old city
The turn stopped the further demolition
First free elections since 1945
Founding of the Fachhochschule Merseburg (University of Applied Sciences)
Merseburg is county seat of the newly formed district Merseburg-Querfurt
Transfer of the Estates by the Saxony-Anhalt State to the City of Merseburg
Beginning of the comprehensive redevelopment of the Estates
1000-Year Anniversary of the Diocese and Cathedral Merseburg
Reopening of the Merseburger Kapitelhauses
350-Year Anniversary of Sekundogenitur of the Duchy of Saxe-Merseburg
Merseburg is county seat of the newly formed district Saalekreis

Notable People

Thietmar of Merseburg, bishop and chronist
Thilo of Trotha, bishop, known through the local legend of the raven
Johannes Knolleisen, canon
Ernst Haeckel, biologist
Lucian Müller, classical scholar
Klaus Tennstedt, conductor
Karl Adolph von Basedow, physician
Jawed Karim, YouTube co-founder
Martin Jahn (c1620-c1682), poet of church hymns
David Pohle [Pohl, Pohlen, Pole, Pol, Bohle] (1624-1695), composer
Heinrich Elmenhorst (1632-1704), poet of church hymns
Johann Friedrich Alberti (1642-1710),composer and organist
Christian Heinrich Aschenbrenner (1654-1732), composer and violinst
Georg Österreich (1664-1735), composer
Georg Friedrich Kauffmann (1679-1735), organist and composer
Johann Gottlieb Graun (1702/1703-1771), Baroque/Classical era composer and violinist
Christian Friedrich Penzel (1737-1801), Kantor, teacher, and composer
Elisabeth Schumann (1888-1952), soprano singer

 

Bach Connection

Only ten miles south of Halle (Saale), up the Saale River and on the way to Weimar, Johann Friedrich Wender of Mühlhausen was at the time (c1713-1714) building his largest instrument ever (with sixty-six scops on four manuals and pedal) at the cathedral of Merseburg (see Kröhner 1995, p. 85). As J.F. Wender and J.S. Bach had known each other well since Arnstadt, J.S. Bach would have been aware of the Merseburg project. The cathedral organist and music direccor of the duke of Saxe-Merseburg was Georg Friedrich Kauffmann, a former student of Johann Heinrich Buttstett in Erfurt and later among J.S. Bach's competitors for tSt. Thomas cancorate in Leipzig.

In or about 1727, when J.S. Bach's eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach was studying in Merseburg with Johann Gottlieb Graun, he and Johann Andreas Kuhnau copied the scores of two G.F. Kauffmann's cantatas, Komm, du freudenvoller Geist and Nicht uns, Herr; he copied a third, Die Liebe Gottes ist ausgegossen, at an uncertain later date. The pieces most probably served for performance by J.S. Bach and his choir at the Neue Kirche in Leipzig.

On February 8, 1735 J.S. Bach made a visit to Merseburg.

J.S. Bach's lost Cantata Schließt die Gruft! ihr Trauerglocken, BWV Anh 16, was written for the Funeral of the Duchess of Merseburg, Hedwig Eleonora. The Cantata was first performed on November 9, 1735 in Leipzig.

Sourcse:
Christoph Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach - The Learned Musician (W.E. Norton & Company, 2000), p. 484
Grove Music Online, ©
Oxford University Press 2005/2006 , acc. 12/17/05 5/15/06 (Authors: Joshua Rifkin & Peter Janson)
Martin Petzoldt: Bachstäten Ein Reiseführer zu Johann Sebastian Bach (Insel Verlag, 2000)

Events in Life History of J.S. Bach

Date/Year

Event

Leipzig (1731-1740)

Feb 8, 1735

Visit to Merseburg

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

Bach Festivals & Cantata Series: None.

 

Features of Interest

Among the notable buildings of Merseburg are the Merseburg Cathedral (Dom) of St John the Baptist (founded 1015, rebuilt in the 13th and 16th centuries) and the episcopal palace (Schloss) (15th century).

The Cathedral-and-Palace Ensemble with its fascinating Palace Garden (Schlossgarten), Merseburg House of Trades with a cultural stage and the German Museum of Chemistry, Merseburg, all bear witness to Merseburg’s history. The Merseburg Palace Festival with the Historical Pageant, the International Palace-Moat Concerts, Merseburg Organ Days and the Puppet Show Festival Week are highlights celebrated every year.

Information & Links

Tourist- und Tagungsservice Merseburg
Burgstraße 5
06217 Merseburg
Tel. 03461-21 41 70 or 03461 | 19 43 3 / Fax 03461-21 41 77

Merseburg (Official Website) [German]
Merseburg (Wikipedia) [English]
Merseburg (Wikimedia) [Photos]
Merseburg (Meinstadt) [German]

 

Prepared by Aryeh Oron (December 2009)

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
Places: Altenburg | Ammern | Arnstadt | Bad Berka | Berlin | Brandenburg | Bückeburg | Celle | Collmen | Dörna | Dornheim | Dresden | Eisenach | Erfurt | Gehren | Gera | Gotha | Halle | Hamburg | Heiligengrabe | Jena | Karlsbad | Kassel | Kleinzschocher | Köthen | Langewiesen | Leipzig | Lübeck | Lüneburg | Meiningen | Merseburg | Mühlhausen | Naumburg | Ohrdruf | Pomßen | Potsdam | Ronneburg | Sangerhausen | Schleiz | Stöntzsch | Störmthal | Taubach | Wechmar | Weimar | Weißenfels | Weißensee | Wiederau | Zeitz | Zerbst | Zschortau

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Last update: ýDecember 30, 2009 ý17:50:57