Reformation & Music History
Let us guide you in the footsteps of Martin Luther and J.S. Bach, two people whose legacies reach far beyond Germany to this day. Traverse the magnificent Thuringian Forest to visit Eisenach, where Bach was born, and where Luther went to school and later hid from the Holy Roman Emperor. Visit Worms and Speyer, two of Germany’s oldest towns where some of the most momentous events of the Reformation took place. Travel to Leipzig, where J.S. Bach was director of the famous St. Thomas Boys Choir. Stroll through the city’s famous passages and visit one of its inviting coffeehouses, once frequented by the likes of Richard Wagner, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Felix Mendelssohn. From Leipzig, it is only a stone’s throw to Wittenberg; where Luther posted the 95 Theses that started the Reformation; Halle, the hometown of George Frideric Handel and site of several sermons by Luther; and Eisleben, where Luther was born and died. End your tour in Berlin, Germany’s vibrant capital.
In each city, choirs may perform in some of Germany’s most beautiful and historic churches: St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, the Castle Church in Wittenberg, the Market Church in Halle, and St. George’s Church in Eisenach, where J.S. Bach was baptized.
Enjoy a concert tour of Germany and let yourself by immersed in all that Germany has to offer as you share your music with local people.
Depart North America for Frankfurt, Germany.
Welcome to Germany! Enjoy an introduction to Frankfurt during a guided walking tour including such famous sights as the Roman Hill, the Imperial Cathedral, and the Goethe Haus.
Check in to your hotel and take some time to rest, and refresh. A rehearsal can be arranged.
This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner of local specialties as your tour manager previews the days ahead.
Begin your first full day in Germany with an excursion to Worms and Speyer, two of Germany’s oldest cities. In Worms, Martin Luther had to defend his theses in front of the Holy Roman Emperor. During a guided tour of Worms, savor the classic Romanesque architecture of Worms Cathedral, St. Martin’s Church, and the iconic Nibelungen Bridge Tower.
Continue to Speyer, famous for the 1529 Imperial Diet where the Lutheran representatives formally protested against sanctions imposed on Lutheran teachings in the Protestation of Speyer, which led to the term “Protestantism.” Visit Speyer Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered by many the pinnacle of the Romanesque style.
This evening, perform a friendship concert together with a German choir in one of Frankfurt’s historic churches. Afterwards, there will be time to socialize with your hosts and the audience.
Depart Frankfurt for Eisenach, where J.S. Bach was born, and Martin Luther attended parish school. On today’s journey, you will traverse the beautiful Thuringian Forest.
In Eisenach, enjoy a guided walk of this picturesque town. As part of your walk, visit the Luther House, where exhibits bring to life the world of the late Middle Ages, and St. George’s Church, where Bach was baptized.
Check in to your hotel at the edge of the Thuringian Forest. Enjoy a sumptuous buffet dinner at the hotel’s popular restaurant.
Enjoy a morning tour of the Wartburg, the ancient fortress that towers over Eisenach and a symbol of the Reformation. See the room where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German while in hiding from the Holy Roman Emperor.
This afternoon, explore the musical instrument collections and interactive music exhibits at the Bach House.
Perform an evening friendship concert with a local choir at St. George’s Church. Following your performance, there will be time to socialize with your German hosts and the audience.
Depart for Leipzig, stopping en route in Erfurt, where Luther studied law and entered the Augustinian monastery, and Weimar, a city rich in legacies left by such cultural giants as the poets Goethe and Schiller.
Upon arrival in Leipzig, join your tour manager on an orientation walk to get a feel for this lively, pedestrian-friendly city where the likes of J.S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn once went about their everyday lives.
Enjoy dinner together in Leipzig at the atmospheric Arabic Coffe Baum restaurant, once the haunt of famous poets and musicians.
This morning, enjoy a walking tour of Leipzig including the Church of St. Thomas and the Gewandhaus Concert Hall. Also visit the stunningly beautiful St. Nicholas Church, where the Peaceful Revolution of 1989 began.
Perform a mid-day a cappella concert in the famous Church of St. Thomas, where J. S. Bach was choirmaster for twenty-seven years.
Enjoy some free time to explore Leipzig’s famous passages, hidden courtyards, and inviting cafes, then visit the Bach Museum or the Mendelssohn House.
Embark on a full-day excursion to the picturesque towns of Halle and Eisleben, including visits to the sites of George Frideric Handel’s birth and baptism in Halle and the house in Eisleben where Martin Luther was born.
Perform an afternoon concert in the magnificent Market Church in Halle, where Handel learned to play the organ and Luther preached.
Return to Leipzig for the evening.
Depart for Berlin, stopping en route in Wittenberg to see the Castle Church, where Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses that set off the Reformation and made this small town world-famous. Perform a mid-day concert at the Castle Church. You may also wish to visit the Luther House, where Luther lived with his family and gave many of his famous table talks.
Continue to Berlin, Germany’s vibrant capital, and see the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag (the German Parliament), Checkpoint Charlie, and remnants of the Berlin Wall.
This evening, enjoy a festive farewell dinner at a restaurant serving local specialties.
Depart from the Berlin Airport for North America, or extend your stay in Berlin.
Martin Luther, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Saint Elisabeth all left their legacies in Eisenach. It was in Eisenach that Martin Luther attended parish school as a young man and on the nearby fortress Wartburg that he found refuge after defending his theses in front of the Holy Roman Emperor. Three hundred years before Luther’s stay, the Wartburg had been home to Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia, who continues to inspire people to this day. More than 150 years after Luther’s time in Eisenach, Bach was born there. Johann Pachelbel also made Eisenach his home while working as court organist for the Duke of Saxe-Eisenach, and became a close friend of J.S. Bach’s father and a tutor for the Bach children. One of our favorite venues for choral concerts is St. George's Church, where J.S. Bach was baptized.
A relaxing stroll through the Marktplatz of Leipzig offers the visitor an overview of the city’s rich history. Nearby is the famous St. Thomas Church where Johann Sebastian Bach was the music director for the last 27 years of his life and where we love to hear our choirs perform mid-day concerts. The city’s musical tradition is reflected not only in the St. Thomas Boys Choir but in the worldwide fame of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. The legacy of numerous musical and cultural luminaries is evident in monuments of Goethe, Bach, and Leibniz as well as streets named for Richard Wagner, Martin Luther and Friedrich Schiller. Even Robert Schumann was active in Leipzig music, having been invited by Felix Mendelssohn when he established Germany’s first musical conservatory in 1843. More recently, the city gained worldwide attention as the starting point of the Peaceful Revolution in 1989 that eventually led to Germany’s reunification. As a center for publishing, industry, and culture, Leipzig has long been one of the most important cities in eastern Germany.
Our friendship concerts are a featured experience on our tours and are at the heart of our mission to foster cultural connections through music. We benefit from a vast international network in the choral world built over our thirty years' experience of helping choirs share their music both in the United States and abroad. Your choir will share a venue and a concert program with a host choir from the region. Your singers will have the chance to hear their host choir's repertoire (often showcasing local musical styles) and to share your own repertoire in turn. Fellowship time usually follows the friendship concert, giving both choirs the chance to mingle and enjoy the camaraderie of creating cross-cultural connections through a shared love of music.