Thursday, February 23, 2017

J.S. Bach and Anna Magdalena

During this month of composer love stories, let’s not forget about Johann Sebastian Bach and his lovely second wife! Anna Magdalena served as not only the composer’s helpmate, but as the mother of thirteen of his children and a professional musician. The couple married in 1721 during Bach’s time in Cöthen.

While in Cöthen, Bach did not have duties as a church musician so scholars assume he took advantage of the extra time in his schedule to write secular court music and pedagogical works. The Little Keyboard Books, two of which were given to Anna Magdalena, served as music teaching and recreation books for his family. The first of these books (1722) was a wedding gift and contains the earliest source of his French Suites. The second book (1725) contains famous minuets and other pieces used for teaching purposes.

While Bach certainly contributed to these volumes, the second edition in particular contains many pieces by other composers of the time as well as little works by Anna and the children. It was quite rare during this time for a woman to compose, however Anna added quite a few works to her book up until the 1740s!

Anna Magdalena Bach
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