For seven generations, the Bach family dominated musical life in Erfurt. As late as 1793, the Erfurt town musicians were generally referred to as “Bachs”. From here, their influence spread over all of central Germany.
Bach’s ancestors, town musicians and organists, were the determining factor in the trading metropolis of 17th century Erfurt. The sons of Johann Bach the minstrel, namely Johann and Christoph founded the musical reputation of the so-called “Bache” or Bachs in Erfurt. Johann Sebastian Bach’s grandfather, Christoph Bach, was the city piper in Erfurt. His father Johann Ambrosius lived in Erfurt and married Elisabeth Lämmerhirt, Bach’s mother, in the Kaufmannskirche.
Both family and business matters often brought Johann Sebastian Bach to Erfurt. It was Duke Johann Georg I von Saxony-Eisenach who kept Johann Sebastian Bach from becoming an Erfurt-born citizen. After thirteen years in Eisenach, Johann Ambrosius wanted to return to Erfurt. The duke refused his request, however, and this is why his son, Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach.
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Kaufmannskirche (Merchant's Church)
The Kaufmannskirche (Merchant’s Church) at the north end of the area known as Anger dates from the 13th century and is considered the church home of the widely-ramified Bach family. The church registers show 61 baptisms, twelve weddings and 60 funerals of the Erfurt musical family.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s parents lived in the first three buildings on Junkersand Street. Along with the Kaufmannskirche, the so-called Bach-houses are considered the most important historical memorial site because of their cultural-historical significance. Incidentally, the composer Johann Pachelbel also lived here from 1678 until 1690.
"Zum Schwarzen Ross" House on the Krämerbrücke
During a celebration in 1635, an argument with a drunken soldier had great consequences: two town musicians were killed. Johann Bach, Bach’s great-uncle, heard about the incident and applied for one of the town musicians’ vacant positions. He was hired and lived in the house called “Zum Schwarzen Ross” (Black Horse) from then on.
Augustinerkirche (Augustinian Church)
The church and the monastery of the Augustinian Hermits was built in 1300. Martin Luther joined the monastery on 17 July 1505. Later, business affairs brought Johann Sebastian Bach to visit his relatives’ home town, for example in 1716, to inspect the new organ in the Augustinerkirche.
Predigerkirche (Preacher’s Church)
Johann Christoph Bach, the oldest brother of Johann Sebastian, studied with Johann Pachelbel in Erfurt, who was the organist at the Predigerkirche. Johann Kittel lived in a house on Marktstrasse in Erfurt and was the last of Bach’s students. He became the organist of the Predigerkirche.
Michaeliskirche (St. Michael's Church)
Johann Egidius Bach was the city music director and the organist of the Michaeliskirche. The centrally located late Gothic church was also the city’s university church. Today, it is under the auspices of the Protestant city mission and is renowned far beyond the city borders for its Compenius organ dating from 1652. All year round, organists from all over the world come to play concerts here.
Thomaskirche (St. Thomas's Church)
In the year 1282, the old Thomaskirche was documented for the first time in writing, and was rebuilt in Gothicstyle most likely in the first half of the 14th century. Johann Sebastian Bach’s oldest brother Johann Christoph and his cousin Johann Gottfried Walthere played the organ.