The front section of the building was built in the renaissance style during the 16th century. In 1710 the merchant Georg Heinrich Bose purchased it, rebuilding and extending it in the baroque style. This is when the side and back sections of the building were added. Johann Sebastian Bach lived directly across the street, at St. Thomas’ School, from 1723 onwards. The “Bosehaus” on Thomaskirchhof has housed the Bach-Museum Leipzig since 1985.
Johann Sebastian Bach lived at the neighbouring St. Thomas’ School from 1723 to his death in 1750. On May 22, 1723 he moved in with his second wife Anna-Magdalena and their new-born daughter Christiana Sophia Henrietta as well as four children from his first marriage, Johann Gottfried Bernhard, Carl Philipp Emanuel, Wilhelm Friedemann and Catharina Dorothea.
The special feature of the house is the baroque “Sommersaal” (summer hall) in the rear building with its moveable sound chamber.
In the rear building, constructed in 1710, a representative banqueting hall was installed, offering a charming view of the house garden with its diagonal pathways and central water fountain. The light-filled hall, measuring 60 square metres, was sumptuously ornamented. Four large mirrors were installed on opposite windowed walls, and the lower walls decorated with base paintings measuring 15 cm in height. Since the hall was unheated, it could only be used during the warmer months, earning it the sobriquet “Summer Hall”.
The inclusion of a gallery had a practical purpose. The sound or echo chamber enabled festive occasions to be accompanied by up to 12 musicians without their disturbing proceedings or being visible inside the hall. To this day, music is regularly heard in the Bosehaus’ Summer Hall, following its restoration in 2002.
The Bach and Bose families were in close contact. No other Leipzig family numbered so many godparents for Bach’s children as the Boses. Anna-Magdalena Bach and the oldest Bose daughter, Christiana Sybilla, were close friends. For example, Bach’s wife gave her neighbour a copy of Johann Jacob Rambach’s Betrachtungen über das Leiden Christi, inscribing it with the following dedication: „Als der HochEdlen, Hoch- Ehr- und Tugendbegabten Jonffer, Jonfer Christiana Sybilla Bosin, meiner besonders hochgeehrtesten Jonfer Gefatterin u. werthesten Herzens Freündin erfrülicher Geburths Tag einfiel; wolte mit diesen kleinen doch wohlgemeinten Andencken sich bestens empfehlen. Anna Magdalena Bachin.“ (“As the birthday of the Highborn, Honourable and Virtuous Damsel, Miss Christiana Sybilla Bosin, my particularly esteemed damsel, godmother and beloved friend of my heart, occurred to me, I commend myself to her good graces with this small yet well-meant souvenir. Anna Magdalena Bachin.”) The book still exists: it was discovered in 1997 and purchased by the Bach-Archive Leipzig, which restored it to the Bosehaus.
From 1910 the historical Bosehaus belonged to Friedrich Wilhelm Reinhardt, director of the brewery in Leipzig/Reudnitz and president of the German Brewers’ Association (1844-1920). The popular establishment “Oberpollinger”, which his widow Mathilde Reinhardt ran from 1921 onwards, could accommodate ca. 700 guests.
“… Given his many occupations, he [J. S. Bach] hardly had time for the most necessary correspondence, so he had no time to wait for extensive written conversations. However, he had plenty of time to converse with decent folk, as his home resembled a dovecote, including in its liveliness. …” (C. P. E. Bach to J. N. Forkel, 1775)
The Bach-Museum presents Bach’s life and work in an interactive and resounding exhibition. A virtual orchestra, a listening cabinet featuring Bach’s collected works and a family tree with sound elements take the visitor into the world of his music. Its treasures include original score manuscripts, a famous Bach portrait and a small box of remains from his grave. Special artifacts also include the console of the organ at Leipzig’s Johanniskirche, which Bach inspected in 1743, a violone from his orchestra and a cashbox he owned. The permanent exhibition offers many features for people with handicaps. Temporary exhibitions alternate at the cabinet, rounding out the programme.