No tour of the historic Bach sites of Germany is complete without a visit to Wechmar. Wechmar is where the “Bach story” began. Veit Bach, great-great grandfather of the now most famous of the dozens of Bach musicians, Johann Sebastian Bach, was a baker and a player of the cittern who settled in Wechmar sometime between 1590 and 1600. Veit Bach is seen by most as the “founding father” of the Bach musical family. Johann Sebastian’s grandfather Christoph Bach also grew up in Wechmar before taking a position as city musician in Erfurt. Based on these facts, the Village of Wechmar proudly calls itself “Home of the founding fathers of the Bach musical family” (Urväterheimat der Musikerfamilie Bach). As of 2006, there are once again some descendants of the Bach family living in Wechmar.
We traveled to Wechmar with Bach enthusiasts and scholars, Rosemarie and Juergen Frey for a personal tour of the Veit Bach bakery. The history of the Bach family came alive with the most comprehensive and world’s largest Bach family tree hanging in the courtyard of this site of the famous Veit Bach bakery.
Our excursion continued to the town of Ohrdruf where the 10 year-old orphaned Johann Sebastian Bach was sent by foot from Eisenach to live with his older brother, Johann Christoph. The church where Christoph was organist and the family home were destroyed in World War II, however, a unique sculpture and monument to Bach’s sojourn in Ohrdruf are worthy of a visit.
(Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist and with David Jordan, creator and performer of the organ and media event, Bach and Sons.)
(Christoph Bach’s wife tells of taking Johann Sebastian Bach into their home in Ohrdruf.)
I am happy to have these two foundlings, Johann Sebastian and Jacob Bach in our home. It gives my husband, Christoph, a chance to get to know his little brothers and teach them how to play the clavier. The boys have settled into life here with us here in Ohrdruf since the sudden death of their parents a few months ago. Thankfully, Johann Sebastian is able to help support our family with his beautiful voice. He sings for all sorts of occasions around Ohrdruf.
Johann Sebastian is also really interested in Christoph’s collection of music scores and is always asking to see the books of music Herr Johannes Pachelbel gave to Christoph. In fact, the other night I caught Johann Sebastian copying by moonlight some of the organ music Christoph had expressly forbidden him to use. I know he is going to ruin his eyesight staring at that music in the near darkness.
After five years, having Johann Sebastian still living with us has started to become a problem. You see, our little home is getting a bit too crowded with our first two babies now walking and our third on the way. I think Christoph and I are going to have to send Johann Sebastian away. We just do not have room anymore and with one less 15-year-old-mouth to feed, it will make life a bit more manageable for us. We think it is time Johann Sebastian learns to live on his own.
(This story above is one of a dozen vignettes from the multi-media and organ program, Bach and Sons, presented by David Jordan, media artist and Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist.)