Today I visited Mendelssohn’s and Bach’s houses. I think by far my favorite was Mendelssohn’s. I loved learning about him in class this past semester and developed a deep love for his overture for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you have never heard it…here’s a link for you:
Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg, and made his debut at age nine in Berlin and eventually founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music. He was a conductor and pianist as well as a composer. Walking through his house was sort of like a dream. Of course the entire thing wasn’t his and was part of the museum, but the highlights of this house were found in both parts: his house and the museum.
We were given listening guides which you were supposed to run along the number placed on the wall, then the device would start translating the German for you. Most of my time was spent smiling at all the facts I remembered from my Music History class this past year, and the rest was spent in this tiny, magical room where I virtually conducted a choir. It took us a minute to figure out that there was a little imaginary sphere you had to stay in for the machine not to stop playing the music. I probably spent close to an hour just in that one room.
The next favorite room of mine was upstairs in Mendelssohn’s apartment. They had left a gorgeous piano uncovered, with no sign telling you not to play it. The instrument was practically calling our names. Several of us played on it and we took some really cool pictures while the lighting was good. People stopped and listened and applauded our performances, so we decided to gather all of us in the room that served as a stage for the voice parts we had, to sing “Phos hilaron,” or “O Gracious Light.” (Below you can hear it for yourself.)
Shortly thereafter, the woman from the front desk came up and got onto us for playing the piano…that we had been on for probably 45 minutes before she came up and told us to stop. Ha! We had had our fill, and soon left the house greeting the annoyed woman as we walked out the door.
Bach’s house was like a room full of things I wish I could touch–maybe I did, maybe I didn’t…–and there was an overload of information. We didn’t spend nearly as long there as we did in Mendelssohn’s house, but every room was really cool. The first couple of rooms were interactive, even though I didn’t go in order. The listening room was probably my favorite because I listened to all of Bach’s motet…in his house…that we performed…in front of his grave. It was beautiful, and though there were slight differences, I was pretty pumped that we got to perform it just the day before in front of Bach’s grave at his church.
The experiences I’ve had here have been unforgettable.
I promise to write more next time, but I have an early flight.