BACH – We Are Family · Leipzig Bach Festival 2020

95th Bach Festival of the Neue Bachgesellschaft

It all started with the idea of holding a 2020 Bach Festival similar to the kind of celebration the much-ramified Bach family of musicians would once have held in Thuringia. Once a year, they met at a certain place to feast, sing and make music.

Today, the Bach family is a global one. All over the world, there are people who live out their love of Johann Sebastian Bach together – in Bach choirs and Bach societies. The oldest of all of these, the Neue Bachgesellschaft, will be celebrating its annual Bach Festival with us again in 2020.

But to turn our idea into a reality, we have also invited all the other ›family members‹ – that is, all the Bach associations around the globe – to Leipzig: more than 250. The response has been overwhelming. The 2020 Bach Festival is set to become the greatest ›family reunion‹ the global Bach community has ever held, and you are cordially invited to be part of it.

Consequently, the festival programme will be centred on works by the entire Bach family. But spiritual members of the family will also be having a very large say, especilly Beethoven, whose anniversary we will also be celebrating.

Two major concert series provide a good illustration of the festival theme as, on the first weekend, famous Bach interpreters explore the roots of J. S. Bach. In five concerts, they will perform works by his most important models and ancestors and place them in the context of Bach’s own early cantatas and motets. In the second half of the festival, numerous concerts will shed light on the musical relationship between Bach and his sons.

Plenty of space in the festival programme is devoted to J. S. Bach himself. His two Passions will be performed on two successive evenings in St. Thomas’ Church, while two exceptional musicians will perform Bach’s entire oeuvre for solo violin and cello in four late-night concerts. But most beautiful of all is that our family reunion will be epitomised by a cycle spanning the entire Bach Festival. More than 30 Bach ensembles from six continents are to play all 66 cantatas from Bach’s »annual cycle of chorale cantatas« in 18 concerts and various church services in his churches in Leipzig, and all visitors are invited to join in the singing of the immortal closing chorales.

This is how, in all kinds of ways and on each of its eleven days, the motto of this exceptional festival will be brought compellingly to life: BACH – We Are FAMILY!


Dr. Michael Maul
Artistic Director of the Bach Festiva