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Guide to Bach Tour
Weißenfels
[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: Part 1 | Part 2 | Maps

Description

Weißenfels is the largest town of the Burgenlandkreis district, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is situated on the river Saale, approximately 30 km south of Halle (Saale). Weißenfels is the seat of the Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Weißenfelser Land, an administrative body for the surrounding rural areas.

Country: Germany | State: Saxony-Anhalt | District: Burgenlandkreis | Area: 24.74 km² | Population: 29,700 (December 2006)

History

In the surroundings of Weißenfels you can prove the signs of settlements for 10,000 years. In the middle of the 12th century the settlement by German and Flemish farmers began. A lot of settlements extended and developed into towns. Markgrave Otto von Meissen led a systematic settlement at about 1185. The name of the town Weißenfels was first mentioned in 1190 in a document. In those days the name Weißenfels had been "Wizenvels". Weissenfels was build on a white sandstone (white rock) and therefore the town got the name Weißenfels. Already in the 13th century Weißenfels was an important trading city. There where several plaque epidemic and hundreds of people died from the disease. After the first big plaque epidemic in the middle of the 14th century the jews were accused of being responsible for the disease. The people thougt the Jews had contaminated the wells. Therefore there were a lot of riots against the Jewish population. A Latin inscription at the church "St.Marien" should remind of such an event. The text reads as follows: "Anno domini 1350, that is in the year of jubilee, Geissler was here and Jews were burned." The people build a new cemetery after a new plaque epidemic in 1522. This cemetery was changed into the "Stadtgarten in 1903/04. On June 3, 1539 the reformation started in Weißenfels. The churches and the monasteries in and out of the town were secularized. As a result of the "Thirty Years War" (1618-1648) the economic situation of the town went worse. Therefore there was also a decline in population. The battle at Lutzen (November 6, 1632) was a charge on the population of Weissenfels.

French and Prussian troops occupied Weißenfels during the Seven Years´ War in 1756 until 1763. In the year 1787 the family “von Hardenberg“ settled down in Weißenfels. One of their sons became famous under the name of “Novalis“ who was one of the most important writers of the early Romanticism. The population of Weißenfels was in big need during the Napoleonic Wars. Weißenfels was connected to the Prussian state after the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In the middle of the 19th century Weißenfels developed into an industrial town. On June 6, 1846 the Prussian King Wilhelm IV opened the Thuringian railway (Halle - Erfurt) in Weißenfels, which was very important for industrialization. In the year 1916 the chemical plant “Leuna-Werke“ was opened. The chemical industry brought a lot of economical change into the region. All bridges in Weißenfels were destroyed but Weißenfels was considerably spared with bomb attacks. After the German reunification the whole shoe-industry went bankrupt. And also all the other industrial branches in and near Weißenfels.

A lot of famous people knew this historically important town. See list of notable people and famous musicians associateed with Weißenfels below

Notable People

Joachim Wilhelm von Brawe (1738-1758), playwright
Johann Gottfried Seume (1763-1810), well-known poet in Weißenfels, who became especially famous for his walk to Syracuse.
Novalis, penname of poet Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772-1801), poet in the early Romanticism
Louise von Francoise (1817-1893), popular native country poetess
Willy Kükenthal (1861-1922), zoologist
Horst P. Horst (1906-1999), photographer
Konrad Dannenberg (1912-2009), rocket scientist
Hermann Eilts (1922-2006), diplomat and adviser to Kissinger on Mideast
Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672), composer and organist

 

Bach Connection

In 1656 the death of the Saxon Elector Johann Georg I occasioned the partition of eastern Saxony in such a way as to make his second surviving son, August, Prince of Merseburg and Duke of Weißenfels. Two generations later, in 1712, Johann Georg's grandson Christian (1682-1736) succeeded as Duke of Weißenfels.

J.S. Bach composed his famous Hunt Cantata BWV 208 for the birthday of Duke Christian of Saxe-Weißenfels (February 23), most probably in 1713, when he was paid for a series of concerts in Weißenfels. The banquet was held at Fürstlichen Jäger-Hofe (the ducal hunting lodge), where today stands Hotel Jägerhof. For the occasion of the birthday of Duke in 1725 J.S. Bach contributed and performed another secular cantata. This time it was the Shepherd Cantata BWV 249a, the original manuscripts of which, as well as all the copies, have been lost. Only the text in the first volume of Picander’s poems has been preserved. Also preserved is J.S. Bach Easter Oratorio BWV 249, in three different versions, the music of its arias was taken from the Shepherd Cantata. Some time after the death of the Weißenfels Kapellmeister Johann Philipp Krieger (1649-1725) - possibly after spending a few days at Weißenfels in February 1729 - J.S. Bach was appointed composer von Haus aus to the duchy, an appointment which in effect made him ineligible, until 1736, for a similar honour at the royal and electoral court in Dresden.

Weißenfels had close ties with Halle, where indeed the court was originally established, and it was during a visit with his father to Weißenfels that the boy Händel’s organ playing attracted the attention of Duke Johann Adolph I (reigned 1680-1697). Another important figure with Weißenfels connections was the cantata librettist Erdmann Neumeister, who was pastor there in 1704-1706. During the reigns of Duke Christian (1712-1736) and his successor Johann Adolf II (1736-1746), Weißenfels was famed as a centre for touring and home-produced opera, and also as a centre for trumpet-playing. Two sisters of Anna Magdalena Bach, themselves daughters of a court trumpeter at Zeitz, married court trumpeters at Weißenfels, and both Gottfried Reiche, who served J.S. Bach as senior Stadtpfeifer in Leipzig, and I. E. Altenburg (1734-1801), who published an important history and tutor for the natural trumpet in 1795, came from Weißenfels. In November 1739 J.S. Bach made another trip to Weißenfels again, this time with his wife Anna Magdalena, probably for a family visit.

Even today Weißenfels is dominated by the elevated palace in which the dukes lived, and of which the chapel and its organ survive intact and restored. But the extension which housed the theatre where opera performances were given was built on insecure foundations and had collapsed by the mid-18th century.

Other famous musicians associateed with Weißenfels

Important musicians who lived in Weißenfel are Schütz and Beer. Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) was one of the most famous composers of this time. He was the conductor at the court of the Saxon princes. He composed the “Johannes-Passion“ and one of the first operas “Daphne“. In Weißenfels there is a house with hisname because he bought it in 1651 and lived there till 1672. Today it's a museum and sometimes concerts are given there. It's a Renaissance building from the 16th century. Johannes Beer (1655-1700) was an author and composer. Besides his musical talent which brought him to the court of August, the Duke of Saxony-Weissenfels, he was also well-known for his many literal masterpieces. Other notable musicians assiciated with Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759), whose outstanding musical talent of was discovered at the churche of Castle Neu-Augustusburg; Johann Philipp Krieger (1649-1725), under his direction as a court master Weißenfels became a significant centre of the early German Baroque opera and the Protestant church cantata. Among the impressive line-up of well-known composers who worked or grew up in Weißenfels are also Georg Philipp Telemann, Reinhard Keiser, Johann David Heinichen, and Johann Friedrich Fasch. There is quite no other town in which so many important musicians of 17th and the first half of the 18th, century have left their footprints.

Events in Life History of J.S. Bach

Date/Year

Event

Weimar (1708-1717)

Feb 1713

Visit to Weißenfels

Leipzig (1723-1730)

Feb 1725

Visit to Weißenfels

Feb 1729

Visit to Weißenfels

Leipzig (1731-1740)

Nov 7-14, 1739

Visit to Weißenfels with wife

Performance Dates of J.S. Bach’s Vocal Works

Date

Event

BWV

Title

Remarks

1713 [Weimar]

 

Feb 21-22, 1713

Birthday (Hunt) [Weißenfels]

208

Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd!

1st Performance

Feb 23, 1725

Birthday [Weißenfels]

249a

Entfliehet, verschwinder, entweichet, ihr Sorgen

 

Bach Festivals & Cantata Series

 

Features of Interest

Hotel Jägerhof
Geleitshaus
Novalishaus
Schütz-Haus Musikergedenkstätte
Schloß Neu-Augustusburg
Marienkirche

Schloßkapelle
Schusterjunge
Heimatnaturgarten

Information & Links

City of Weissenfels
Markt 1
D-06667 Weissenfels
E-Mail: oberbuergermeister@weissenfels.de
Website:Weissenfels (Official Website) [German]

Landkreis Weißenfels [German]
Cityreview: Weißenfels [German]
Weißenfels (Meinestadt) [German]
Heinrich-Schütz-Haus Weißenfels [German]
Hotel Jägerhof [German]
Weißenfels (Wikipedia) [English]

 

Prepared by Aryeh Oron (March 2004 - 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 29, 2009 ý14:26:11