Leipzig seeks new cantor

Leipzig seeks new cantor


norman lebrecht

April 27, 2020

Gotthold Schwarz, 67,  will retire in June 2021 from the job that J S Bach made famous.

The successor will be appointed by the city council.

Needs to play the organ and run the choir.

Nothing in the job spec about being Christian.

The year 2023 will mark 300 years since Bach won the job.



  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Big shoes to fill!!

  • Andreas B. says:

    Do you have some inside knowledge about the job description?
    Could you provide a link perhaps?

    Afaik, it has not yet been published.

    Last Friday’s press release only states the selection process will begin with proposals by the selection committee and further information would soon (“zeitnah”) be provided for individual applicants:


    However, some minor points of your post could perhaps be clarified:

    Since the Reformation all Thomaskantors (including Bach) have been employees of the city of Leipzig.

    The Kantor does not need to play the organ (that’s Prof. Ulrich Böhme’s job as current Thomasorganist)

    Also, while the ‘job spec’ for the last appointment in 2016 might not have mentioned a Christian religious affiliation explicitly, it did require the applicant to possess

    “anwendungsbereite und umfängliche kirchenmusikalische, liturgische und theologische Kenntnisse”

    (extensive knowledge of sacred music, liturgy and theology)

    as well as

    “nachgewiesene Kenntnisse der knabenchorrelevanten Musica Sacra, im Besonderen der vom Thomanerchor praktizierten”

    (proven knowledge of Christian church music repertoire, especially boys choirs’).

    Therefore, and given the Thomaskantor is ex officio member of St Thomas’ parish council, applicants might be aware that at least some degree of Christian background could be considered helpful.

  • Michael James says:

    Is it banned under German law to require an employee to adhere to any religion?

    • Andreas B. says:

      The relevant German law is the

      ‘Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz’ AGG,

      which implements European law:

      Directive 2000/78/EC, called ‘Employment Equality Framework Directive’.

      (In UK law implemented as the ‘Equality Act 2010’ )

      It is still possible for an employer to demand profound religious knowledge and qualifications as long as these pertain to the nature of the specific job.

      • Maria says:

        Equality? You must be joking! That law is so easy to get around. As a woman you can go through the motions of an interview for the sake of it, and never get appointed as it was always going to be a man. Or everyone goes through the motions of being interviewed and the person has already been decided upon, and the panel.finds fault with every one of them.

        • Brian v says:

          Very true

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          It has been like this since humans emerged from the caves. Decades ago I got a job in television when it was said these were nearly impossible. The candidates came from people already in the organization. The fates were with me that day when I stepped into the interview with an all-male panel. They asked me searching questions about what I would do under pressure and I found an intelligent response, very fortunately. But after I got the job there was a great deal of bitterness amongst my cohort who said, “we didn’t apply because we knew we wouldn’t get the job”. I replied, “then you’ve lost nothing”.

          You’ve got to be in it to win it!!!

  • Maria says:

    Cantor? Is that what he’s called? Hardly be a female, would it? Ha!

  • I know the Thomanerchor and how it operates very well, having brought them to the UK in 1994 for their first ever visit here. We have remained friends ever since.
    Founded in 1212, the Thomaner tradition was well known in Germany over a period of 500 years before Bach came on the scene in 1723, although JSB remains at the heart of its repertoire today.
    Whatever credentials the Commission determines for the new appointment (to be made in a way that would be familiar to JSB if he were applying today) whoever it turns out to be, what is also imperative is, like Directors of Music here, complete dedication is required on the part of the Cantor. It is not just a 9-5 job, nor is the choir rent-a-choir, but the appointment is one that carries with it the requirement of the Cantor to run and direct a choir of c.80 9-18 year old boys (SATB), sustain a long, weekly church service-rehearsal-concert packed year, touring outside Germany as well as within it, hopefully to include more international tours in the future as well. Expectation both in the Leipzig parish and on the international concert platform is high. I confess to loving the sound they make and how the choir works today, backed up by a devoted staff.