Luther's Legacy in Saxony: A New Podcast Highlights Martin Luther Sites and his Legacy to Music
In 2017, the state of Saxony, in the eastern part of Germany, is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the date when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the famous church door, calling for a debate and reform of the Catholic Church. From that point on, there was no going back. The events that followed led to the Leipzig Disputation, Luther's excommunication at the Diet of Worms, and the start of the Protestant Reformation.
For Luther, music was a vital part of the church service, and an expression of devotion, prayer and communion with God. In fact, Luther was a trained musician and composer, who wrote 30 chorales, and published a book of hymns. He was a powerful force for music and a reason that choral singing became so popular in German-speaking countries. His most famous hymn, "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott" (A Mighty Fortress is Our God), is said to have been translated over 70 times into English, and is still sung in churches of many Christian denominations. Luther's music and words still resonate throughout the United States and the world. Similarly, the role of music in Saxony is as vital and alive today as it was in the 16th century.
To honor and commemorate the role of music in Martin Luther's life, Saxony Tourism has created the podcast about Luther's legacy, highlighting places in Saxony that were important to Luther, accompanied by music based on hymns that he himself composed.The podcast is produced and narrated by Naomi Lewin, the former afternoon host on WQXR, New York's classical music radio station. It is available as a free download for radio and news websites, and leads the listener through the most important Reformation sites in the cultural and musical destination of Saxony. They include Leipzig and Dresden, both world-renowned centers of composition and performance; Meissen, home of the famous porcelain factory; and Torgau, the political heart of the Reformation movement.
In Dresden, the Semper Opera, the Staatskapelle Dresden, and the 800-year-old Holy Cross Boys Choir are major institutions that are lively parts of the city's cultural life. Dresden is also in the process of opening a renovated hall for the Philharmonic at the Kulturpalast, as well as a new building for the Staatsoperetta that was crafted out of a former power plant. In Leipzig, the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the St. Thomas Boys' Choir, the Bacharchiv, the Mendelssohn House and the GRASSI Museum for Musical Instruments are just a few of the stops along the city's three-mile Music Trail. Understanding the role of music in the time of Martin Luther is an important part of the celebration of both the life of Luther, and the Protestant Reformation.
In this podcast, listeners can literally hear the sounds of Saxony. The podcast features some of the greatest composers and musicians who lived and worked there: Johann Sebastian Bach, Heinrich Schütz, Max Reger, and Johann Walter. Performers include Leipzig's St. Thomas Boys' Choir, and Dresden's Holy Cross Boys Choir, as well as the brilliant brass instruments of Virtuosi Saxoniae, under the direction of Ludwig Güttler. Other composers include Dieterich Buxtehude, Michael Praetorius, Johann Ernst Altenburg, and Jean Langlais, plus organist Harold Stover.
Saxony Tourism is grateful to Edel Kultur for the use of "Luther in Music" and "Celebrating Together" - two CDs created expressly for celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and the life of Martin Luther. To stream the podcast please click here, listen below or download it here.
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