15 Explosive Facts About Melrose Place

A spinoff of Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place debuted on Fox in the summer of 1992, ran for seven seasons (with most seasons consisting of at least 32 episodes, a figure unheard of today), and focused on a group of friends and foes living in a Los Angeles apartment complex located at 4616 Melrose Place.

According to Heather Locklear, the first season was “very boring. It was all nice people, and, really, there are some bad people in the world.” To beef up ratings in the second season, creator Darren Star—who went on to create Sex and the City—and co-executive producer Aaron Spelling brought in Locklear, and the show exploded. “There’s an old Noel Coward expression that fits,” Spelling told the Chicago Tribune. “To put a cat amongst the pigeons. We needed Heather to be the cat amongst the pigeons.”

Locklear played the conniving Amanda Woodward, and was nominated for four Golden Globes for her performance. She was effective enough for people to tune in each week to see what might unfold on the nighttime soap opera, whether it was an outrageous baby kidnapping plot, the apartment building exploding, or one of a number of scandalous affairs. The show went off the air in 1999, but its impact remains. Here are 15 mind-blowing facts about the series.

1. THE REAL MELROSE PLACE ISN’T LOCATED ON MELROSE PLACE.

Exteriors of the Melrose Place apartment complex were filmed at El Pueblo Apartments, at 4616 Greenwood Place, in Los Angeles’s Los Feliz neighborhood. You can, of course, take a selfie in front of it, and possibly rent one of its eight units. The listing doesn’t mention a pool, though.

If you want to stroll down the real Melrose Place street—which does exist—you’ll start at the intersection of Melrose Place (which eventually intersects with Melrose Avenue) and La Cienega Boulevard. You won’t find residences (or drama), but you will find a hip and pricey shopping oasis, featuring Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta boutiques.

2. JOSIE BISSETT HATED PLAYING “NICE.”

Josie Bissett played Jane Mancini, Melrose Place’s resident nice girl. But Bissett wanted to be as bad as everyone else. “I do get tired of playing a victim all the time on the show,” she complained to Rolling Stone. “I mean, enough already. People call for me on the street and tell me everything that I’m doing wrong. In real life, I learn from my mistakes, and Jane is just not learning. But look out, because she will very soon.”

Apparently Bissett’s protest was received. “I remember Josie Bissett asking, ‘Can I please, please do something, like, a little devious? Do I have to be the nice one?’ I totally understood it,” Darren Star told Vulture. “You don’t want to be the character that’s being stepped on all the time.” By season three, Jane had become more villainous. “I think in the third season we had fun showing that all these characters had two sides,” Star said. “We made villains out of almost everyone.”

3. MANY OF THE CAST MEMBERS HOOKED UP WITH EACH OTHER IN REAL LIFE.

During the first season, Courtney Thorne-Smith (Allison Parker) and Andrew Shue dated, and later on in the series she dated Grant Show. “Show and Courtney Thorne-Smith were together and when they weren’t, we were all pretty sure that’s why she left the show,” Melrose Place writer/producer Charles Pratt Jr. told Vulture.

Though Laura Leighton also dated Grant Show, she ended up marrying Doug Savant in 1998. “We were friends on the set, but then it became, ‘Oh my God, this person I think is so perfect is right here,’” Savant told People. “The best thing that happened to me as a result of Melrose was meeting my wife.” A couple of other real-life couplings weren’t as successful: Josie Bissett divorced Rob Estes (they were newlyweds when the show started), and Locklear and Jack Wagner called off their engagement.

4. MATT FIELDING WAS ONE OF THE FIRST GAY CHARACTERS ON NETWORK TV, BUT HIS ROMANCE WAS CENSORED.

YouTube

It was progressive for a show in the early ’90s to feature a gay character (it would take Ellen DeGeneres, starring as Ellen Morgan on Ellen, until 1997 to come out as gay), but Matt’s personal plotlines could go only so far. Matt finds a boyfriend and wants to sleep with him, but according to Vulture, Fox was against having the men be filmed lying in bed together.

“One of them had to be in the doorway,” Melrose Place writer-producer Carol Mendelsohn said. “Then we wanted them to kiss on the beach near Michael’s house, and broadcast standards at the time would not let us have them kiss. Instead it was ‘Matt’s lover rubs his ear.’ Fortunately, we’ve come a long way in 20 years.”

Doug Savant, who played the role of Matt, didn’t want the media to know about his private life. “There are other straight actors who have played gay characters and then shouted their straightness to the media at every chance,” he told Rolling Stone. “I think that's disgraceful. I have the responsibility to play the common humanity that crosses boundaries of sexuality."

5. BILLY WAS SUPPOSED TO BE PLAYED BY ACTOR STEPHEN FANNING.

In Lifetime’s The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story, it showed how an actor named Stephen Dale—Stephen Fanning in real life—was hired to play Billy but was fired because he gained too much weight. But according to the 2012 ABC reunion special, Shue said the reason Fanning was let go was because the actor didn’t have the right chemistry with Allison. “No one told Stephen that he was let go,” Show said. “He showed up to work and Andrew was in his dressing room.” Shue joked, “I feel that I need to personally apologize.” (Fanning should not be confused with baseball player Steven J. Fanning, who is father to Dakota and Elle Fanning.)

6. VANESSA WILLIAMS THINKS SHE WAS FIRED BECAUSE THE SHOW DIDN’T “EQUIP THEMSELVES TO WRITE FOR A BLACK CHARACTER.”

Williams played dancer/aerobics instructor Rhonda Blair on the first season of Melrose Place, but she wasn’t asked back for season two. “I think they didn't make the effort to equip themselves [to write for a black character], either by hiring a black writer or asking me things,” she told TV Guide. “Then, the whole face of the show changed—no pun intended—to [Aaron] Spelling’s soap-opera formula. They raised the stakes in terms of the sexual content, so who was gonna jump in bed with the black girl and not raise a hair in middle America somewhere? So it was devastating to me as an actress not to be invited back, but I knew it had nothing to do with my work, so I just had to release it.”

7. AMY LOCANE ONLY LASTED ONE SEASON AS WELL.

Williams’s on-screen roommate Amy Locane, who played Shooters waitress/aspiring actress Sandy Harling, also only lasted one season on the show. In 2010, Locane struck and killed a 60-year-old woman with her car while intoxicated. In 2013, she was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to three years in prison. She was released early, in 2015.

8. GRANT SHOW TURNED DOWN PLAYING THE BRAD PITT ROLE IN THELMA & LOUISE.

Thelma & Louise came out in 1991 and made Brad Pitt a star. Melrose Place actor Grant Show told The New York Times that he was offered the role but had to reject the part because “I was doing 12 days on a Jackie Collins mini-series, and I had to turn it down because they wouldn’t let me out of my contract.” He thinks Pitt did a better job than he would have, but regrets not breaking his contract. “But what I’ve learned is, back then I didn’t realize that the game is played by my own morality and not theirs. If there is one thing I wish I could tell that young actor, it would be to walk off that set and say, ‘Sue me.’”

9. ANDREW SHUE THINKS THE REASON PEOPLE LOVED THE SHOW WAS BECAUSE EACH AIRING RESULTED IN “PARTIES.”

The original cast members—with the exception of Williams and Locane—reunited on ABC in 2012 to reminisce about their backstabbing days. In 2010 Shue married Good Morning America anchor Amy Robach, who interviewed Shue and the cast. When she asked Shue why fans had such an affinity for the show, he stated: “We weren’t catty, there were no divas. It really was a family. When you think about that show, people had parties. There’s never been a show where people would gather on a weekly basis and have parties. I think it was groundbreaking in that sense, and now everybody would be on their digital devices and so you could never have a party.”

10. THE 1995 OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING CAUSED THE SEASON THREE FINALE TO BE EDITED.

During the final moments of season three, “The Big Bang Theory,” crazy person Kimberly (Marcia Cross) is about to detonate Melrose Place, but then the screen cuts to “to be continued.” A month prior to the May 1995 finale, the Oklahoma City bombing took place. The episode was supposed to end with the denotation, followed by Kimberly flying through the air, Amanda falling down the stairs, and the courtyard blowing up. Viewers would have to wait until the fourth season premiere in September to see the explosion and to find out that (spoiler alert!) none of the main cast members died (though Allison did go blind—temporarily). Cross felt some remorse.

“I felt guilty in a way, as if I were perpetuating violence,” Cross told Entertainment Weekly. “But it’s a weird line—most people can distinguish the fact that our show has nothing to do with [the bombers] in Oklahoma.” According to Rolling Stone, though, the original concept involved Kimberly kidnapping Sydney, putting her in a plane, and flying the plane into the apartment courtyard. But when a plane used as a weapon crashed near the White House in 1994, the producers changed their minds about the ploy.

11. THE SHOW ENDED BECAUSE THE CAST OUTGREW THEIR DIGS.

“You could not believe after seven years these people, who had actually attained some stature in their careers and had some money, were living in that building,” Carol Mendelsohn told Vulture. “You tried to ignore it, but it would come up in the writers’ room all the time: ‘Why haven’t they moved?’” Dee Johnson, another Melrose Place writer/producer, said. “‘Amanda makes a ton of money. Why is she staying in that little apartment?’ In the end, it was unavoidable.”

12. MALCOLM GLADWELL WAS A SUPERFAN OF THE SHOW.

During a January 2016 interview with Bill Simmons on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Gladwell, a writer for The New Yorker, admitted his love for the series. “I used to do an email synopsis of every episode of Melrose Place,” he said. “I had a list of, like, a 100 people that I’d send it out to. And why did I do that? Because I was absolutely sure that everyone I knew—all of us in our 20s or early 30s—was watching MP. There is not a single show that I would have the same certainty about today. The only thing that comes close was Serial last year.” Gladwell said he’d take two hours out of his workday to write up the newsletter, but said he wouldn’t go to so much effort today for just a network show. “It was a bad show,” he said. “Nobody would watch it today.”

13. PEOPLE PAID BIG MONEY FOR MELROSE PLACE POOL WATER.

According to The New York Post, before the show’s series finale aired, Fox sent out snow globes filled with MP pool water to journalists. Some of those globes sold for as much as $300 on eBay. Amazon.com got involved with auctioning off Melrose Place memorabilia, including Amanda’s headboard and Sydney’s wedding dress. Grant Show knew the series would last when he saw the pool. “The minute I walked on the set and saw that they’d built a real pool in here, I had the feeling we’d be around for a while,” he told Rolling Stone. “Forget about actors, man; pools aren’t cheap.”

14. ANDREW SHUE QUIT ACTING AND BECAME A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR.

In 2008, Shue co-founded CafeMedia, which hosts CafeMom, The Stir, MamásLatinas, and other popular websites. He founded CafeMedia with “the vision to create an organization that would celebrate and reward moms for all that they do each and every day,” according to his bio. Besides CafeMedia, Shue also sits on the board of Do Something, a youth leadership organization he founded in 1993.

15. IN 2009 FOX REBOOTED THE SERIES, BUT IT FAILED.

Thomas Calabro (Dr. Michael Mancini) starred in more episodes than any other cast member—219 out of 226—and was one of the few original cast members to appear on the reboot. Calabro told SheKnows why he wanted to reprise his role as Dr. Michael Mancini. “First of all, he had a nuclear family, which I had never ever played before. He had a twentysomething-year-old son, which I had never had … He was going to be intertwined in many of the main characters’ storylines. So that became really interesting to me. There was a whole new dynamic.” Before the show got canceled after one season, Laura Leighton, Heather Locklear, Josie Bissett, and Daphne Zuniga all made appearances.

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
iStock
iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images
11 Things You Might Not Know About Johann Sebastian Bach
Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images
Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images

Johann Sebastian Bach is everywhere. Weddings? Bach. Haunted houses? Bach. Church? Bach. Shredding electric guitar solos? Look, it’s Bach! The Baroque composer produced more than 1100 works, from liturgical organ pieces to secular cantatas for orchestra, and his ideas about musical form and harmony continue to influence generations of music-makers. Here are 11 things you might not know about the man behind the music.

1. PEOPLE DISAGREE ABOUT WHEN TO CELEBRATE HIS BIRTHDAY.

Some people celebrate Bach’s birthday on March 21. Other people light the candles on March 31. The correct date depends on whom you ask. Bach was born in Thuringia in 1685, when the German state was still observing the Julian calendar. Today, we use the Gregorian calendar, which shifted the dates by 11 days. And while most biographies opt for the March 31 date, Bach scholar Christopher Wolff firmly roots for Team 21. “True, his life was actually 11 days longer because Protestant Germany adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1700,” he told Classical MPR, “but with the legal stipulation that all dates prior to Dec. 31, 1699, remain valid.”

2. HE WAS THE CENTER OF A MUSICAL DYNASTY.

Bach’s great-grandfather was a piper. His grandfather was a court musician. His father was a violinist, organist, court trumpeter, and kettledrum player. At least two of his uncles were composers. He had five brothers—all named Johann—and the three who lived to adulthood became musicians. J.S. Bach also had 20 children, and, of those who lived past childhood, at least five became professional composers. According to the Nekrolog, an obituary written by Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, "[S]tarting with Veit Bach, the founding father of this family, all his descendants, down to the seventh generation, have dedicated themselves to the profession of music, with only a few exceptions."

3. BACH TOOK A MUSICAL PILGRIMAGE THAT PUTS EVERY ROAD TRIP TO WOODSTOCK TO SHAME.

In 1705, 20-year-old Bach walked 280 miles—that's right, walked—from the city of Arnstadt to Lübeck in northern Germany to hear a concert by the influential organist and composer Dieterich Buxtehude. He stuck around for four months to study with the musician [PDF]. Bach hoped to succeed Buxtehude as the organist of Lübeck's St. Mary's Church, but marriage to one of Buxtehude's daughters was a prerequisite to taking over the job. Bach declined, and walked back home.

4. HE BRAWLED WITH HIS STUDENTS.

One of Bach’s first jobs was as a church organist in Arnstadt. When he signed up for the role, nobody told him he also had to teach a student choir and orchestra, a responsibility Bach hated. Not one to mince words, Bach one day lost patience with a error-prone bassoonist, Johann Geyersbach, and called him a zippelfagottist—that is, a “nanny-goat bassoonist.” Those were fighting words. Days later, Geyersbach attacked Bach with a walking stick. Bach pulled a dagger. The rumble escalated into a full-blown scrum that required the two be pulled apart.

5. BACH SPENT 30 DAYS IN JAIL FOR QUITTING HIS JOB.

When Bach took a job in 1708 as a chamber musician in the court of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, he once again assumed a slew of responsibilities that he never signed up for. This time, he took it in stride, believing his hard work would lead to his promotion to kapellmeister (music director). But after five years, the top job was handed to the former kapellmeister’s son. Furious, Bach resigned and joined a rival court. As retribution, the duke jailed him for four weeks. Bach spent his time in the slammer writing preludes for organ.

6. THE BRANDENBURG CONCERTOS WERE A FAILED JOB APPLICATION.

Around 1721, Bach was the head of court music for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. Unfortunately, the composer reportedly didn’t get along with the prince’s new wife, and he started looking for a new gig. (Notice a pattern?) Bach polished some manuscripts that had been sitting around and mailed them to a potential employer, Christian Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg. That package, which included the Brandenburg Concertos—now considered some of the most important orchestral compositions of the Baroque era—failed to get Bach the job [PDF].

7. HE WROTE ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST COFFEE JINGLES.

Bach apparently loved coffee enough to write a song about it: "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht" ("Be still, stop chattering"). Performed in 1735 at Zimmerman’s coffee house in Leipzig, the song is about a coffee-obsessed woman whose father wants her to stop drinking the caffeinated stuff. She rebels and sings this stanza:

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes
More delicious than a thousand kisses
Milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
And, if someone wants to pamper me,
Ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!

8. IF BACH CHALLENGED YOU TO A KEYBOARD DUEL, YOU WERE GUARANTEED TO BE EMBARRASSED.

In 1717, Louis Marchand, a harpsichordist from France, was invited to play for Augustus, Elector of Saxony, and performed so well that he was offered a position playing for the court. This annoyed the court’s concertmaster, who found Marchand arrogant and insufferable. To scare the French harpsichordist away, the concertmaster hatched a plan with his friend, J.S. Bach: a keyboard duel. Bach and Marchand would improvise over a number of different styles, and the winner would take home 500 talers. But when Marchand learned just how talented Bach was, he hightailed it out of town.

9. SOME OF HIS MUSIC MAY HAVE BEEN COMPOSED TO HELP INSOMNIA.

Some people are ashamed to admit that classical music, especially the Baroque style, makes them sleepy. Be ashamed no more! According to Bach’s earliest biographer, the Goldberg Variations were composed to help Count Hermann Karl von Keyserling overcome insomnia. (This story, to be fair, is disputed.) Whatever the truth, it hasn’t stopped the Andersson Dance troupe from presenting a fantastic Goldberg-based tour of performances called “Ternary Patterns for Insomnia.” Sleep researchers have also suggested studying the tunes’ effects on sleeplessness [PDF].

10. HE WAS BLINDED BY BOTCHED EYE SURGERY.

When Bach was 65, he had eye surgery. The “couching” procedure, which was performed by a traveling surgeon named John Taylor, involved shoving the cataract deep into the eye with a blunt instrument. Post-op, Taylor gave the composer eye drops that contained pigeon blood, mercury, and pulverized sugar. It didn’t work. Bach went blind and died shortly after. Meanwhile, Taylor moved on to botch more musical surgeries. He would perform the same procedure on the composer George Frideric Handel, who also went blind.

11. NOBODY IS 100 PERCENT CONFIDENT THAT BACH IS BURIED IN HIS GRAVE.

In 1894, the pastor of St. John’s Church in Leipzig wanted to move the composer’s body out of the church graveyard to a more dignified setting. There was one small problem: Bach had been buried in an unmarked grave, as was common for regular folks at the time. According to craniologist Wilhelm His, a dig crew tried its best to find the composer but instead found “heaps of bones, some in many layers lying on top of each other, some mixed in with the remains of coffins, others already smashed by the hacking of the diggers.” The team later claimed to find Bach’s box, but there’s doubt they found the right (de)composer. Today, Bach supposedly resides in Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church.

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