Over seven generations, the Bach family dominated musical life in Erfurt to such an extent that, by 1793, all city musicians were called “Bach”. Over 70 descendents of Vitus Bach became professional musicians. Most of the family members lived in Erfurt. And it was from here that their work spread right across central Germany.
Erfurt Tourist Information
In the 17th century, Johann Sebastian Bach’s ancestors defined the trading city’s music scene as musicians and organists. The sons of Johann Bach “der Spielman” (“the player”, deceased in 1626), Johann (1604–1673), who came to Erfurt in 1635, and Christoph (1613–1661), established the musical reputation of the “Bachs” in Erfurt. Johann Sebastian Bach’s grandfather, Christoph Bach, worked in Erfurt as a city piper from 1642 to 1654, and his father, Johann Ambrosius, lived in Erfurt at Junkersand 3 until 1671, marrying Elisabeth Lämmerhirt, Bach’s mother, at the Kaufmannskirche in 1668. The “Bachs” enriched Erfurt’s music scene, introducing, among other things, the “major sixth” interval. Family and work repeatedly drew Johann Sebastian Bach back to the city, be it to examine the organ in the Augustinerkirche in 1716 or to consult Erfurt music scholar, Jakob Adlung, in 1728. Duke John-George I of Saxe-Eisenach is to blame for Johann Sebastian Bach not also being born in Erfurt. In 1684, after thirteen years in Eisenach, Johann Ambrosius wanted to return to Erfurt as a city musician. But the duke rejected his request, and Johann Sebastian Bach ended up being born in Eisenach.
Thuringia 20 km
Built in the 13th century, the Kaufmannskirche (“Merchants’ Church”) on the northern village green is considered to have been the local church of the extensive Bach family. Its registers document 61 baptisms, 12 weddings and 60 burials relating to the Erfurt musician family. Johann Sebastian Bach’s parents, Johann Ambrosius Bach and Elisabeth Lämmerhirt, got married in the church in 1668.
The first three buildings on Junkersand were home to Johann Sebastian Bach’s parents, Johann Ambrosius Bach and Elisabeth Lämmerhirt. Along with the Kaufmannskirche where his parents got married, the “Bach houses” are considered important historic memorial sites due to their significance in cultural history. Composer Johann Pachelbel, who was an organist at the Predigerkirche and an acquaintance of the Bach family at the time, incidentally also lived here from 1678 to 1690.
"Haus Zum Schwarzen Ross" on the Krämerbrücke
In 1635, a celebration in Erfurt’s city centre resulted in a serious altercation with a drunken soldier, during which two city musicians were killed. Johann Bach, a great-uncle of Johann Sebastian Bach, heard about the incident and applied for one of the city-musician positions which had become vacant. Following a successful interview with the city’s council, he was given the job, living in the “Haus zum Schwarzen Ross” thereafter.
Augustinerkirche (St Augustine's Church)
The church and monastery of the Augustinian Hermits were built around 1300. Martin Luther, the famous Augustinian monk, joined the monastery on 17 July 1505. Work-related business later led Johann Sebastian Bach to visit the city of his relatives, including to examine the new organ at the Augustinerkirche in 1716. The “Orgelschmaus“ (“organ feast”) that followed at an inn on the village green was one of the many occasions on which the family, most of whom worked as musicians, would come together.