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Bach At Leipzig - Full Length Play, Comedy

Bach At Leipzig

Itamar Moses

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Full Length Play, Comedy


ISBN: 9780573651441

Leipzig, Germany — 1722. Johann Kuhnau, revered organist of the Thomaskirche, suddenly dies, leaving his post vacant. The town council invites musicians to audition for the coveted position, among them young Johann Sebastian Bach.

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Description | Characters | Rental Materials | Media | Author | Reviews
: Acting Edition
: Large Print
: Stage Manager

Minimum Fee: $75 per performance


Full Length Play


Farce, Period

More than 120 minutes (2 hours)

Time Period - 18th Century

Settings Of Play - The Thomaskirche, Leipzig, Germany, 1722. Later 1750.


Play w/ Music

Interior Set

Period Costumes


No Special Cautions


Appropriate for all audiences


From Off-Broadway

Leipzig, Germany — 1722. Johann Kuhnau, revered organist of the Thomaskirche, suddenly dies, leaving his post vacant. The town council invites musicians to audition for the coveted position, among them young Johann Sebastian Bach. In an age where musicians depend on patronage from the nobility or the church to pursue their craft, the post at a prominent church in a cultured city is a near guarantee of fame and fortune -which is why some of the candidates are willing to resort to any lengths to secure it. BACH AT LEIPZIG is a fugue-like farcical web of bribery, blackmail, and betrayal set against the backdrop of Enlightenment questions about humanity, God, and art.


“The most stylish and substantive play based on classical music since Peter Shaffer's Amadeus .” – Ithaca Times

"A funny, fiercely intelligent romp." Los Angeles Times

“A fleet-footed, quick-witted, brain-teasing farce. It's a joy.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“If you like super-smart silliness, be ready to laugh until your ribs are sore. A who's-on-first farce full of theatrical trickery and fizzy verbal slapstick.” – The Wall Street Journal

“A remarkably silly yet intellectually stirring comedy. Deserves to be a minor classic. Reaches for an ineffable beauty and mystery that is hard to shake.” – Queen Anne News

“Lovely, wise, tender, strong, and the best play I've seen — or can imagine — by a young playwright.” – Chicago Reader

“An intellectual fun-house of a play. With its wordplay, brainy allusions and virtuoso manipulations of artistic form, it has a 'look-Ma-no-hands' swagger. A poignant meditation on the artistic temperament and the transporting power of music.” – Washington Post

“Itamar Moses' brainy comedy doesn't settle for cheap laughs, though it has a lot of them. He's got more — much more — on his mind...a look at pride, the meaning and duties of talent, and deep, discursive ruminations on whether music and people can — or should — evolve without spiritual faith.” – Seattle Weekly

“Moses may be some kind of genius.” – Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Brilliant. What consistently amazes and delights is not just the wealth but the breadth of the intellectual fencing, which never misses a comedic beat. Moses reveals a remarkable ability to make a complex, intellectual play funny, with the feather-light touch of a modern Moliere.” –Shepherd Express  Milwaukee

Bach at Leipzig was first presented at Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY, in 2002. It was directed by Kevin Moriarty. The play was subsequently presented Off Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop in New York City in 2005. It was directed by Pam MacKinnon.





All Male


N/A (Not a musical)

JOHANN FRIEDRICH FASCH - organist and Kapellmeister at Zerbst, fifties.
GEORG BALTHASAR SCHOTT - organist at the Neuekirche in Leipzig, fifties.
GEORG LENCK - organist and Kantor at Laucha, late thirties.
JOHANN MARTIN STEINDORFF - organist and Kantor at Zwickau, twenties.
GEORG FRIEDRICH KAUFMANN - organist and Kantor at Merseburg, fifties.
GEORG FRIEDRICH GRAUPNER - organist and Kapellmeister at Dramstadt, fifties.
THE GREATEST ORGANIST IN GERMANY - organist and Kantor at Hamburg.

Rental Materials


N/A (Not a musical)


N/A (Not a musical)

  • Itamar Moses on Bach at Leipzig

Itamar Moses

Itamar Moses

Itamar Moses is the author of the full-length plays Outrage, Bach at Leipzig, Celebrity Row, The Four of Us, Yellowjackets, Back Back Back, and Completeness, the musicals Nobody Loves You (with Gaby Alter), and Fortress of Solitude (with Michael Friedman), and the evening of short plays Love/Stories (or But You Will Get Used to It). His work has appeared Off-Broadway and elsewhere in New York, at ... view full profile

Other Itamar Moses titles:

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Philip Dickerson 8/20/2017 7:52 PM
Michael baker 4/16/2016 8:38 AM
I read the play once through and extracted a scene to develop for our actor's workshop.  The play, on first read, was very interesting, fast paced, and complex.  There were a few "gags" along the way, but most of the comedy comes from the corroboration of material throughout the play.  Moses (or the blurb writer) describes the play as a fugue, and after working on the scene in depth, I can really understand that.

I have Master's Degrees in music and studying fugues endlessly, and after studying the one scene, I really began to "get" the nature of the rest of the play, and, like a great Bach fugue, it started to work its effect on me.

My only fear in producing the work would be that the audience wouldn't have the opportunity to study the play in depth over time, and would base its judgement on the one performance.  Would the standard audience have the attention span to "get" the joke of hiding the scores in various places, would they "get" the references to everyone wanting the others to leave, etc.

On second read, after studying the one scene in depth, I had a much greater appreciation for the construction of the play.

Before I produce it, I would want to see another production to see how it plays with a first time viewing audience.

To offer a four word review:  I really liked it.  I'm not ready to commit to a five-star review just yet, but with time, I hope to have the play grow on me.

Also by Itamar Moses was Back, Back, Back, which I also very much enjoyed (separate review)

Michael Baker

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