The quiet little village of Teuchern, about 50 km south of Halle and 45 south-west of Leipzig (the nearest town is Weissenfels, 12 km away off the road to Zeitz), was the birthplace in January 1674 of the Hamburg opera and oratorio composer Reinhard Keiser. His musical gifts – which no doubt came from his father, Gottfried, a composer and the local organist, who left the marital home soon after Reinhard was born – were recognized and developed first in Teuchern, probably by the local organist, Johann Christian Schieferdecker.

On the 300th anniversary of Keiser’s birth a plaque was erected on the house in the market square where he was born. A small permanent exhibition devoted to his life, devised by local enthusiasts, was opened to the public in 1982 in the ground-floor front room. This was expanded and modernized in 2000, to incorporate a sound system with music and commentary (available in English and French as well as German). It is divided, parallel to the display, to follow Keiser’s career – his time at the Thomasschule in Leipzig and his early career in Brunswick; his important years at the Hamburg opera, where he met (and influenced) the young Handel; his period in Stuttgart and Copenhagen (here there are facsimiles of letters in his fine, elegant hand); and then his late years back in Hamburg, as cathedral Kantor, and his death there in 1739. There are also tributes to other musicians linked with this unusually musical village: Schieferdecker (1679-1732), another native; Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729), born nearby, who went on to the Thomasschule and a distinguished career in Dresden; and Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758), who spent part of his childhood in Teuchern.


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