On the eve of March 9, 2013 I purchased my ticket for the play Bach at Leipzig. As the opening scene began Johann Freidrich greeted us in a strong German accent and encouraged us to time travel to the year of 1722, Leipzig, Germany. With a cathedral like setting with one glass window upside down and the other upright and a clock for the stage you can’t help but to recognize the twisted and whimsical setting you are being immersed in. as Johann began reading a letter to his dear sweet Anna he tells her that he has made it to Leipzig in one piece. Kuhnau, the director of St. Thomas church and master of St. Thomas school does not have long to live and wishes to see him at once to bid farewell and give over the seat of power since he is “his favorite pianist.”
As he arrived at the cathedral he was greeted by Georg Balthazar Schott who was listening to Kuhnau play, runs into his first challenge. Georg had been told that he will have that seat also and reign as the top organists in all of Germany but after witnessing the death of Kuhnau, as he played his last unbearable piece the fight to be the greatest organists of all Germany had begun. As time moved on they continued to run into challenges and different people with the same name as them with only their middle names to separate them. They were all hoping to fill that spot. Each person presents their obstacles to the audience as Georg Balthazar Schott father was very powerful and a lot of people owed him money, Georg Lenck was a thief, Balthazar was a widower and Georg Phillip Tar was the second greatest organists in Germany. Johann Martin Steindorff, Georg Friedrich Kauffman and Georg Friedrich Graupner. Six of Europe’s finest musician came out to audition for the position of being director of not only the school but the coördinator of music
As the plot thickened the fight to take Kuhnau’s place became more and more intense. Each character plotted and tried to extort the other so they could leave Leipzig so there could only be one person left. But if everyone tried to get rid of each other who will be left to take Kuhnau’s place? Drugging and tying up Johann Friedrich, putting Johann Martin in jail and Georg Kauffman stealing from right under their nose the characters were running out of ways to get rid of each other and the potential seat was up for ransom until a few playing arrangements failed and they gave up. Death welcomed them leaving only Johann Friedrich and Georg to wonder who would take Kuhnau’s place. But after learning the truth in 1750 that the letters they received had been made up and realized Kuhnau wanted things to stay the same or have no music at all they were astonished. Kuhnau wanted no one to replace him until Bach came to Leipzig had ever heard anyone play like that, so peacefully and amazing Bach was here to stay.
Through all the blackmailing, puns, and strong religious debates this play is the perfect example of what is going on in the news today. Some believe that God should be taken out of America and others believe that God should always be in America. Their beliefs of predestination surfaced numerous of times as some believed in it and the others believed that once you are saved you are not always saved and that does not guarantee your spot in heaven. I loved how in the play, the actors spoke briefly about their religious views (seemed rushed through a few times) they did not over exaggerate their religious debates.
At points hearing the actors words and dialect became a challenge overall they did an outstanding job. Whenever there was a date change they informed the audience so we would not be confused about anything. In the play there was a quote that I wrote down and will remember as a key in life itself; “When someone has control of you so do you, when you don’t neither do they.” Georg Lenck. That quote has stuck with me since the play and will forever be remembered. I do believe the play could have started earlier and was not so long because after the first half an hour my attention started to wander and became fidgety but after everything I loved the play.