Ger. city in Saxony with long tradition of sacred and secular music. St Thomas's Church became town church 1755. Several distinguished musicians were Kantor there, one of the finest being Johann Kuhnau, org. from 1684 and Kantor 1701–22. He was succeeded in 1723 by J. S. Bach who stayed until his death in 1750. Like Kuhnau, he became dissatisfied with standards of perf., but many of his church cantatas were written for the choir. His successors incl. J. A. Hiller (1789–1804) and Karl Straube (1918–40). The first opera written for Leipzig was N. A. Strungk's Alceste (1694). Telemann comp. at least 20 operas for Leipzig. The Schauspielhaus was built 1766 after which opera was regularly perf. It became the Stadttheater 1817. The Neues Stadttheater opened 1867. Lortzing was cond. of opera in Leipzig 1844–5; among his successors were Julius Rietz (1847–54), Anton Seidl (1878–80), Arthur Nikisch (1879–89), Gustav Mahler (1886–8), Otto Lohse (1912–23), Gustav Brecher (1923–33), Paul Schmitz (1933–51). Krenek's Jonny spielt auf (1927) and Weill's Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (1930) were f.p. in Leipzig. Opera house was destroyed by bombs 1943. After 1945 Leipzig was in East German (Communist) zone. Joachim Herz was dir. 1959–76. After Ger. reunification (1989), Udo Zimmermann became Intendant 1990 and mus. dir. was Lothar Zagrosek.
Leipzig's concert tradition began in 17th cent. In 1781 a new Gewandhaus (Cloth Hall) was built, enabling the Gewandhaus concerts to become the most important in the city, the first being given on 25 Nov. 1781, cond. by Hiller. Mozart gave a concert of his own works there 1789. Mendelssohn was cond. 1835–47. During his régime Bach's St Matthew Passion was revived and f.ps. were given of Schumann's 1st, 2nd, and 4th syms., Schubert's ‘Great’ C major sym., and Mendelssohn's 3rd sym. and vn. conc. Rietz was cond. 1854–60, Carl Reinecke 1860–95. Brahms cond. all his syms. in Leipzig and his vn. conc. had its première there 1879. New Gewandhaus opened 1884. Conds. were Arthur Nikisch (1895–1922), Furtwängler (1922–9), Bruno Walter (1929–33), Hermann Abendroth (1934–46). Gewandhaus was bombed 1943 and rebuilt 1978. Since 1946 conds. have incl. Franz Konwitschny (1949–62), Vaclav Neumann (1964–8), Kurt Masur (1970–98), Herbert Blomstedt (1998–2005), Riccardo Chailly from 2005.
Leipzig also has a radio orch., founded 1924. The Cons. was founded in 1843 through Mendelssohn's efforts and has remained one of the leading institutions of its kind. Leipzig is also the home of org.‐builders, several mus. publishers, e.g. Breitkopf & Härtel, Hoffmeister & Kühnel, and C. F. Peters, and of mus. journals such as the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (1798) and Neue Zeitschrift für Musik.