Early Music in the Churches of Basel post image

Early Music in the Churches of Basel

Listen to Medieval, Renaissance or Baroque music in a unique atmosphere

Basel has preserved many vestiges of its centuries-old past, through its architecture or through traditions, such as Fasnacht, its yearly carnival. Something else has survived as well: music. Basel is one of the world centres for performance of early music, and concerts featuring works from the Medieval, the Renaissance and the Baroque eras take place year round. Musicians specialising in this repertoire perform on historical instruments, such as the lute, Gothic harp, harpsichord and fiddle. Singers bring to life ancient chants and madrigals from long time ago. For the visitor in Basel, these concerts offer a unique cultural experience, one doubly interesting in that these events often take place in the city’s churches, which are worth visiting in themselves.

The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, an internationally renowned school for early music, is the centre for this specialised performing world. Being part of the Musik-Akademie of Basel, the Schola offers training in early music, at university level. Students carrying ungainly theorbo cases can be seen crossing the cobblestone courtyard or sitting in the garden by the rose bushes, deciphering Medieval music notation. Concert programs for performances at the Schola can be found on their website.

Apart from the Schola is the ancient Leonhardskirche, where many early music performances take place, in Basel’s old city at Labyrinthplatz. As the church stands on a small hill, the square in front offers a view of the city, where the Münster, Basel’s Cathedral, can be seen dominating the skyline. Concerts at the Münster take place in the main church or in one of the small chapels that provide a more intimate setting. Martinskirche, nearby, first built in the twelfth century, and Pauluskirche with its rose window close to Schützenmattpark regularly offer concerts as well. On the other side of the river, in Kleinbasel, you can hear performances in Kartäuserkirche at Theodorskirchplatz or in the new Gothic styled Matthäuskirche at Matthäusplatz. All of these churches are a joy to visit at any time, but especially so when they pull the visitor into a bygone era through music.


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