Johann Sebastian Bach’s parents, Johann Ambrosius Bach and Elisabeth Lämmerhirt, came from Erfurt, and moved to Eisenach in 1671 when Johann Ambrosius was given a job as town musician under Johann Georg I of Saxony-Eisenach. According to the employment contract, his tasks as “Hausmann” included leading the town’s music and pipers. Twice a day, he, “along with four others”, is said to have tooted from the town hall and provided the musical accompaniment for the church services. This was the musical environment into which Johann Sebastian Bach was born on 21 March 1685 in Eisenach.
Tourist Information Eisenach
Two days after his birth, he was baptised at St George’s Church. Bach later attended the same Latin School Martin Luther had once attended, and almost certainly sang in the “Chorus musicus”, which was responsible for the church services. His mother died in 1694, and his father nine months later, rendering Johann Sebastian Bach, the family’s youngest son, an orphan at the age of ten. But just as Ambrosius Bach had been supported by the Bach family network during his own childhood, so Johann Sebastian also felt the strong sense of family cohesion. He was taken into the home of his brother Johann Christoph, 14 years his senior, in Ohrdruf, with Johann Christoph subsequently becoming his guardian.
Thuringia 20 km
Bach House Eisenach
The “Bachhaus Eisenach” opened by the Neue Bachgesellschaft in 1907, is one of Germany’s most popular music museums, displaying the largest exhibition on Bach’s life and music. Five baroque musical instruments from his extensive collection are presented to visitors as part of short hourly concerts, including a Silbermann spinet and Thuringia’s oldest chamber organ, dating back to 1650.
St George's Church
At St George’s Church, where “Bachs” not only spent more than 100 years working as organists – during Johann Sebastian’s childhood this was his great-uncle Johann Christoph Bach (1642–1703) – but also where Johann Sebastian was baptised. Not only was Johann Christoph Bach an organist; he also worked as a harpsichordist at the royal court, and wrote motets, organ chorales and religious concerts. His music must have been familiar to the young Johann Sebastian, who would have stood right near the organ loft as a soprano in the “Chorus musicus”.
The 16th-century building today houses the Martin-Luther-Gymnasium grammar school. A plaque commemorates Johann Sebastian Bach’s schooling days. Just adjacent to the school is the “Alte Münze” mint and occasional home of Eisenach organist Johann Christoph Bach. The tour ends at the Old Cemetery, where the tombs of the Bach family’s Eisenach branch can be found.
The tombs of the Bach family's Eisenach branch can be found at the Old Cemetery.