A newly discovered letter in Leipzig suggests that the great composer excelled at taking time off work, delegating his duties to juniors.
The letter, by a former boy chorister at the Thomaskirche, Gottfried Benjamin Fleckeisen, claims that he and other students used to fill in for the master in his increasingly frequent absences. Fleckeisen, who was applying for Bach’s job after his death, said he had led and conducted performances in church for ‘two whole years’, apparently 1744-46.
Bach is usually seen as a diligent and hardworking public employee. But town council minutes refer to him as ‘unindustrious’ and some scholars are now suggesting that he suffered burnout from the endless performance of church service and the constant requirement for new oratorios on Biblical themes. Read a summary of the latest scholarship here.
photos (c) Lebrecht Music&Arts