Story: A Boston Organist’s Saga

April 2009

It is a dark and stormy day in early February when I arrive in Leipzig, now a bustling city with new buildings and a spiffy train station aka shopping plaza.  I head straight to the St. Thomas Church.  In the square, someone has hung a sign around the neck of the tall, imposing statue of J. S. Bach.  It reads “Happy Birthday, Felix” (in German, of course).  I smile.  It seems a fair exchange since Mendelssohn had so much to do with the rediscovery of Bach’s music.  The doors of the Thomas Church are open and I see a crowd of people filing in for a special concert of the six Mendelssohn Sonatas.  Wow, Ezequiel Menéndez is the visiting artist!  Gazing up again at Bach before I join the crowd, the statue seems to wink at me!  Hey, did that really happen?  The concert is great, displaying different approaches to the sonatas, some more Romantic than others.  The audience is enthusiastic and the experience is just overwhelming.  I have one more stop before hopping the “pond” – to visit Mendelssohn’s grave in Berlin.  The whole Mendelssohn family is here – parents, Felix, wife and children and sister Fanny, husband and son.  After this solemn pilgrimage, I cross the street to Church of the Holy Cross where the large Woburn Hook sings forth from the gallery.  Mendelssohn sounds just as good here as in Leipzig.  But of course!  On this American organ of English ancestry I’m hearing how the sonatas might have sounded when Felix played them in England.  The Hook makes me homesick for New England.  I dream of persuading the city fathers to erect two new sculptures on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall – Bach and Mendelssohn.  The alarm clock rings . . . . .

Lois Regestein