Keith Briggs

This page was last modified 2013-05-12  


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Photos of Bach sites

The purpose of this page is to allow a comparison of sites associated with J. S. Bach, as they appeared in earlier times, with their recent appearance.

About 20 years ago I acquired a copy of Bach: A biography by Terry [1]. This book has about 75 photographs of towns in which Bach lived or which he had visited, I think mostly taken by Terry himself, presumably in the 1920s. Seeing these inspired me to make a similar trip, but as almost all the sites were then in the GDR, arranging this was quite difficult. I finally got there in 1988, and have been back several times since. All the colour photos here were taken by me, in 1988, 1990, 1998, and 2003.

Since my first visit several good books have appeared which make planning such a trip easier now [2-9].

[1] Bach: A biography C. S. Terry. OUP 1928
[2] Die Bachkirche zu Arnstadt M. Donhof. Verlag G. & M. Donhof, Arnstadt 1990
[3] Reisen zu Bach W. Hoffmann, VEB Tourist Verlag, Leipzig 1985 (reissued by Brockhaus Stuttgart)
[4] Reiseweg zu Bach R. Humbach, M. Imhof & S. Gildersleeve. M. Imhof Verlag, 2003
[5] Bachstätten - Ein Reiseführer zu Johann Sebastian Bach M. Petzold. Insel Verlag 2000
[6] Bach in Leipzig - Leben - Wirken - Nachwirken Nationale Forschungs- und Gedenkstätten J. S. Bach. Leipzig 1985
[7] Johann Sebastian Bachs Mühlhäuser Zeit (1707-1708) Michael Meißner. Mühlhausen 2000
[8] Bachhaus Wechmar: Die Urväterheimat der Musikerfamilie K. Kreuch, Wechmar 1994
[9] Die Bachstadt Ohrdruf: Kleiner Streifzug durch die Kirchenmusik Ohrdruf 2000


This is a village between Gotha and Arnstadt. Bach's great-great-grandfather Veit was a miller here in the 16th century. In 1998 I had to walk 12 km each way from Gotha as it was Sunday and there were no buses. In 2003 I went by bicycle from Gotha. It used to be thought that Veit's mill was the Niedermühle shown in the first photographs, but now the Obermühle is believed to be the correct site and it was being converted to a museum in 2003. The house described by Terry as Hans Bach's House is also now a museum. Hans was the son of Veit.

Terry Figure 3 - Niedermühle Niedermühle (Mühlenstr. 27) in 1998

Terry Figure 4 - Hans Bach's House Hans Bach's House in 2003

Hans Bach's House in 1998 Obermühle poster in 2003


Bach was born here in 1685, at 35 Lutherstraße, according to Terry. Joshua Rifkin has said in a radio program that the house is now an "anonymous stucco-fronted" one, but I saw it being renovated in 1988 and it clearly contains some old timber-framing, so it might retain some original 17th century work. The house is the two-storey one with orangey-coloured finish in the centre of the 1988 photo. Bach attended the Gymnasium (as did M. Luther 200 years previously).

Terry Figure 9 - Lutherstraße Lutherstraße in 1988

Lutherstraße in 1998 Lutherstraße in 2003

Lutherstraße 35 in 1988 Lutherstraße 35 in 1998

Terry Figure 10 - The Gymnasium The Gymnasium in 1998

House of J. A. Bach, Rittergasse 11 in 1988 House of J. C. Bach in der Alten Münze in 1998

Markt in 1988 Gymnasium door in 1998


Bach was organist here 1703-1707. The church was built between 1676 and 1683 ([2], page 1). The organ was lowered in renovations in 1913 ([2], page 21) but the façade is the original from 1703. The fountain with statue has been in place since at least 1580.

Terry Figure 24 - Bonifaciuskirche Church in 2003

Terry Figure 27 - church interior Church interior in 1988

Fountain in 1580 (from [2]) Fountain in 1990

Church interior in 1988 Fountain in 1988


Bach was organist here 1707-1708.

Terry Figure 32 - Marienkirche Marienkirche in 2003


Bach was married here 1707 October 17.

Terry Figure 34 - Dornheim church Dornheim church in 2003


Bach was a court musician here 1708-1717.

Terry Figure 40 - Schlossthurm Schlossturm in 1988


Bach was a court musician here 1717-23.

Terry Figure 55 - Schloss Schloss in 2003

Terry Figure 50 - Schloss Schloss in Merian's engraving


Bach was Cantor here 1723-1750.

Terry Figure 62 - west end of Thomaskirche (pre-1902) West end of Thomaskirche in 1988

Terry Figure 67 - Nikolaikirche in the 17th century Nikolaikirche in 1988

Hotel am Ring car park in 1988 - site of Zimmermann's Caffeegarten Rathaus in 1988

Bach monument in 1988 Thomaskirche under restoration in 1988

Thomaskirche interior in 1988 Thomaskirche main door in 1988

Thomaskirche, Markt und Rathaus in 2003

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