The Post Coach during Bach’s time

Post Coach Saxony during Bach's time
Post Coach monument

During Bach's latter years in Leipzig, also the later years of his life, he had completed his Cantata Cycles, sorted out his somewhat unruly school choir, trained some good musicians - with addition for cantata performances of town musicians. He had also taken up the leadership and organization of the popular concerts at Zimmerman's Coffee House, a pleasant and relaxing pastime.

So during the 1740s, his life took on a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. Contemporary accounts also relate that he enjoyed periodic visits to the handsome city of Dresden on the Elbe, the Capital of Saxony and home to the Electoral Court, where Bach would visit his son Wilhelm Friedemann, organist of the Sophienkirche, and listen to the music at Court.

But he didn't simply hop onto an ICE (Inter City Express train) for a journey counted in minutes. Rather it was a 13-hour journey by Post Coach, a little bumpy no doubt, dusty, and tiring - though frequent stops were made in towns, cities and hostelries to unload and take on mail, and to refresh the passengers!

The advertisement below for a famous hotel in Leipzig giving travel times in hours to and from various cities makes interesting reading. Also noteworthy were the Post Monuments (illustration above), centrally located in many cities, marking the stops of the coaches where passengers and mail could be picked up and set down. Closer study of the inscriptions reveals that travel times were quoted, not just in hours, but in fractions of an hour going down in some cases (presumably where there were good roads) to one-sixteenth of an hour - that's three minutes! Would that many of our buses and trains today maintained such punctuality!

Leipzig 1730 hotel advert giving travel times

For a city map and more pictures of Leipzig see:
Bach's Leipzig, 1725-1750

See also The Trauerode
for the story of August I's acquisition of the Polish Crown
and reactions in Leipzig.

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