A Porsche Panamera in the city of music
Yun-Jin Cho – the brilliant violinist for Germany's renowned Gewandhausorchester – directs the new Porsche Panamera around Leipzig.
The Panamera 4S E-Hybrid glides across Augustusplatz on electric power, barely louder than a whisper, and comes to a stop directly in front of the new Gewandhaus. The centre of Leipzig is also the epicentre of its music and there is a natural desire to move softly and reverently. Here, the great composers live on in their works through the world’s largest professional orchestra, whose own roots go back to 1479.
South Korean violinist Yun-Jin Cho came to Leipzig in 2008 and today is the orchestra’s Deputy 1st Concertmaster and considered one of the very best violinists in the worlds. At the age of just 15 she left her home town of Seoul because she wanted to study music abroad. Ten years later, having completed here studies, she auditioned in Leipzig. “The orchestra has always had a fantastic reputation,” says Cho from in front of the Gewandhaus. “At the time I didn’t realise how deeply the roots of classical music run in this city.”
She won the position that would change her life, and proceeded to discover the city on her own terms. “When I’m in one of the traditional cafés, I imagine how Robert Schumann might once have sat there himself and composed a melody. Wherever you go in Leipzig you feel like you’re walking in the footsteps of great musicians.”
Cho gets into the back seat of the Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid. “How wonderful, I can control the sound system from here,” she says with a laugh, as the car heads to the Musikviertel (music quarter) of Leipzig, where rows of well-preserved villas bear quiet witness to the remarkable early years of the city’s history.
By the 15th Century, Leipzig had already become one of the most important hubs of trade between eastern and western Europe. The cosmopolitan metropolis had money, and so its cultural life also thrived. A magistrate appointed three musicians to accompany festivals and ceremonies at theatres, in the city hall and at church services. The Große Concerte, or Grand Concerts orchestra was founded in 1743, its performances attended by both aristocracy and bourgeoisie alike.
For 30 years, audiences enjoyed regular concerts at an establishment called Zu den drei Schwanen (At the Three Swans). But the city’s culture of music soon acquired a reputation far beyond its borders and a larger space was needed, which led to the Gewandhaus, or ‘clothmakers’ hall’. The large upper floor of this trade building was converted into a concert hall and the first concert took place in November 1781, putting Leipzig firmly on the European cultural map.
Cho directs the Panamera to some of the sites that reflect this grand tradition. Leipzig’s picturesque Musikviertel is where she teaches. “At the oldest university of music in Germany,” she notes with some pride. Later, the Panamera pulls up in front of a classical building that was once the home of the Schumanns. “This is where Robert and Clara Schumann spent the first four years of their married life,” says Cho. “The bride was only 21-years-old when they moved in.” Today the building houses a museum, event space, and educational facilities. It shows how the couple lived and where they welcomed famous fellow musicians such as Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Franz Liszt, and Hector Berlioz.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was another famous name that graced the musical halls of Leipzig. In 1789, two years before his early death, he performed a concert in the Gewandhaus. Ludwig van Beethoven’s nine symphonies were also performed for the first time here during the 1825–1826 season, when the composer was still alive. The city has always exerted an irresistible attraction to great artists. Some came for a few months, other stayed for years.
Clara Zetkin Park in Leipzig extends straight through the city: a place for Cho to find tranquility.
Like Cho herself. Now at the wheel, she steers the Panamera towards the more modern side of the city. Over the past few decades Leipzig has awakened from a slumber. Thirty years after German reunification, its cultural, social, and culinary offerings shine once again and companies like Porsche and BMW have played a key role in this thanks to new production sites in the region.
“New developments in Leipzig are so colourful and dynamic!” says Cho. “And this car fits the city perfectly. It’s as multifaceted as a great piece of music – sometimes fiery and passionate, and other times gentle and sensitive.”
Panamera 4S E-Hybrid fuel consumption combined: 2.2 - 2.0 l/100 km; electricity consumption combined: 18.1 - 17.4 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 51 – 47 g/km