Leipzig for Beginners

The St. Thomas Boys Choir of Leipzig is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year. It made me realize that I know little to nothing about Leipzig itself. And with a newly elected German President also from the former East, it seemed like an appropriate time to look eastward and learn more about the eastern German city of Leipzig.

Cultural capital
It’s amazing that a single singing group has been in existence for so long and still honors many of its founding traditions. Established in the St. Thomas Church which was built in 1212, the St. Thomas Boys Choir boasts as one of its past canters, Johann Sebastian Bach.

Any city that can claim Johann Sebastian Bach as a son gets to call itself a cultural SUPER capital in my book. Having once played the harpsichord, and like most other piano students, having learned to play his Inventions, I personally regard this composer as part of the foundation of my education. Add Felix Mendelssohn on top of that, and hot dog, Leipzig is indeed a cultural epicenter! (This might have been the first sentence ever with Mendelssohn and hot dog together.)

There is no end to culture in Leipzig. It boasts one of the Germany’s best opera houses, along with the theater and Gewandhaus concert hall. But there is also a vibrant alternative scene, thanks partly to being a large university city.

Let’s also not forget Goethe who studied in the city and chose it as the backdrop of Faust. There is also a big book fair which takes place annually in March.  It seems that this year’s book fair (along with the next two) looked eastward too, featuring literature from Poland, Ukraine and Belarus.

Historical epicenter
As the lead in the peaceful revolution in 1989 which brought the Berlin Wall down, Leipzig promises some sort of buzz. Maybe a dark one in some regards as the Stasi Museum is also here. Here’s an easy to read timeline of the city’s history.

University town
Leipzig also has one of the biggest universities of the former east, and as a result 30,000 students reside in the city. Apparently, it is also one of the oldest, younger only than Heidelberg by about 35 years. There is also the music university, visual arts school and a highly regarded business school, among others.

There seem to be oodles more to see and explore, so consider this a mere introductory snapshot to Leipzig in two minutes.

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