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Johann Sebastian Bach in Berlin

The series about historical places of opera art & culture. Get to know exciting excursion and travel ideas for opera lovers. This time: Johann Sebastian Bach in Berlin.


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Johann Sebastian Bach in Berlin

Sanssouci Palace Potsdam

Bach never lived in Berlin, but visited the Prussian capital at least three times. For the first time he went there during his time in Köthen to buy a harpsichord. Twice, in the forties, he visited his son Carl Philipp Emanuel, who was in the royal service of Frederick II, called the Great.

The second time the meeting took place during his Leipzig years, in 1747 , which gained anecdotal fame. The king was an outstanding musician and himself composed over 100 sonatas for his beloved flute. His court musician of many years, Quantz, often had to follow him to the field camp to give music lessons. As king, one of his early official acts was to have the opera house “Unter den Linden” built. When his later court musician Carl Philipp introduced his father to the king, the king was aware that he had a musical celebrity before him, but nevertheless he did not miss the opportunity to put him to the test. He played Bach a theme on the harpsichord and asked him to improvise a fugue. The latter now played a masterly three-part fugue, so that the king was highly astonished. When he wanted to hear a six-part fugue, Bach had to pass and wrote one down in Leipzig and sent it to the king. This piece became known as the “musical sacrifice”.





Destination Sanssouci Palace

The meeting of the two “giants” took place in the royal music room in Sanssouci Palace, which can be visited.

Sanssouci Concert Room:

Konzertzimmer Sansouci Berlin Potsdam Johann Sebastian Bach Travel Reisen Culture Tourism Reiseführer Travel guide Classic Opera



Destination Musical Instrument Museum

In this museum with a huge and interesting stock of historical instruments, among the “highlights” is the so-called “Bach harpsichord”.

According to tradition, it came from the estate of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, who is said to have inherited it from his father Johann Sebastian. However, this cannot be proven. The builder is most likely a member of the Harrass family from Großbreitenbach in Thuringia. (Source: Museum website, own translation)

Bach harpsichord:

Cembalo ("Bach-Cembalo")


The collection also includes transverse flutes by Frederick the Great.

The museum owns several transverse flutes, including one made of ebony and one made of ivory, which were in the possession of Frederick II. This is evidenced by a handwritten mark (FR=Fredericus Rex) and written evidence from around 1800. (Source: Museum website, own translation)

Transverse flute of Frederick:

Querfloete mit zugehˆrigem Kasten des Komponisten Johann Joachim Quantz



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