Ohrdruf may be the smallest of all the “Bach cities” but, aside from the young Johann Sebastian’s five-year stay here, it also boasts a Bach tradition spanning more than 170 years. Johann Sebastian Bach’s brother, Johann Christoph (1671– 1721), who became the organist at St Michael’s Church in 1690, where he was a highly regarded musician, is considered the founder of the Bach family’s Ohrdruf branch
Stadtverwaltung und Tourist Information Ohrdruf
Following the early death of Johann Sebastian Bach’s parents in Eisenach, it was Johann Christoph who took the ten-year-old into his home. The 14-year age difference meant Johann Christoph not only became Johann Sebastian’s guardian, but also his first piano, organ and figured-bass teacher, laying the foundations for his brother’s future creative work. Johann Christoph had acquired his own musical skills under Johann Pachelbel during a three-year stint in Erfurt, after which he gained experience as the organist at St Thomas’ Church in Erfurt and Arnstadt, before being appointed organist in Ohrdruf. Johann Sebastian’s brother had only just got married before Johann Sebastian arrived in Ohrdruf. Johann Sebastian Bach was musically active as a choir singer. The youth choir’s appearances around the city even helped him earn a livelihood. Some of his first organ chorales from this time have also become known, having been discovered in the “Neumeister Collection” in 1984.
Thuringia 20 km
St Michael's Church
Until its destruction in 1945, St Michael’s was the main church in the town of Ohrdruf. Today, only the tower still stands, and can be visited with prior notice. Its small library houses some true treasures closely affiliated with Bach’s time in Ohrdruf.
Bach Monument Ohrdruf
One of Ohrdruf’s two Bach monuments is visible at Michaelisplatz (St Michael’s Square). It was crafted by students of the neighbouring Michaelisschule at the Tobiashammer hammer mill, combining numerous allegories of Bach’s music with Ohrdruf’s history.
Back in Bach’s days, Schloss Ehrenstein was home to the ruling counts of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein. Since 1657, the region’s sovereignty has been at the hands of the dukes of Saxony-Gotha. The magnificent rococo hall and various exhibits are all worth a visit, plus there is original evidence of Bach’s stay in Ohrdruf. Following a devastating fire in 2013, the castle is currently being restored, and is due to reopen in the summer of 2020.