A wife, a mother, an accomplished musician in her own merit, she intrigues and sparks curiosity. Her story makes us realize that an idea of a musically accomplished woman in addition to her traditional role of a nurturer is not a concept so exclusive to modernity. Or, perhaps, she was one of the first to pave the way for many towards this modern trend. For the past three hundred years, teachers and students of the keyboard have used the Anna Magdalena Notebook as a trustworthy source of pieces suited to beginner and elementary level players.
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A wife, a mother, an accomplished musician in her own merit, she intrigues and sparks curiosity. Her story makes us realize that an idea of a musically accomplished woman in addition to her traditional role of a nurturer is not a concept so exclusive to modernity. Or, perhaps, she was one of the first to pave the way for many towards this modern trend.
For the past three hundred years, teachers and students of the keyboard have used the Anna Magdalena Notebook as a trustworthy source of pieces suited to beginner and elementary level players. Early drafts of his five distinguished and elegant French suites first appeared in this notebook as well as several vocal pieces and compositions by eminent contemporary composers.
But for most musicians, Anna Magdalena is habitually brushed aside as a complementary figure in the life of the great J. Bach and the dedicatee of the Notebooks. Apart from this, little is known about her, and it was, therefore, an appeal to embark on an investigative journey to discover more about her and, possibly, the status of female musicians in the s. The investigation has not been so easy. Hard evidence, surviving letters, and documentation on Bach are comparatively scarce.
The information about her available in English is even more limited. Despite these constraints, details of her life as a woman who was married to one of the greatest composers ever lived, could provide a window for modern readers to understand the domestic musical life of the Baroque era. Anna Magdalena was in fact a professional singer employed by the court prior to her marriage to J.
This was a higher category of employment compared to most musicians of the time and was most definitely awarded due to a high level of musical ability. Based in Weissenfels- the Saxony-Anhalt region of Germany, her father was a court trumpeter and her mother — a daughter of an organist.
The details of the meeting between J. Bach and Anna Magdalena are unknown and much of what is known about her is focused on her post marriage life. Documentary evidence shows us that she had the official position of a chamber musician which she held for 2 years. At age 20, Anna Magdalena married J. Bach, who was 16 years her senior. The ceremony took place at their home by command of the Prince in As a young wife, she immediately assumed the role of a stepmother of four children and was possibly responsible for their musical education when Bach was unavailable.
Anna Magdalena soon became a mother herself. Alongside being a mother, a stepmother, and a co-leader of a busy musical household, she was listed as a godparent of J. Hahn OBM , a son of a footman to the Prince. The Bachs were not known to have written any diaries and, therefore, documentation on their domestic life is, unfortunately, scarce. Yet, there is a precious letter, in which Bach describes his domestic situation and family musical ensemble to his friend Georg Erdmann OBM , the Imperial Russian residence agent in Danzig, which provides a rare glimpse of life inside the Bach household.
Upon examining the obituary on Johann Sebastian written by his second eldest son, Carl wrote extensively on his birth mother Maria Barbara. When she entered the Bach household, she gave birth almost every year for 13 years. Life must have been difficult for Anna Magdalena.
It is evident that he was fond of Anna Magdalena. There had been remarks stating that she ceased her professional engagements after her marriage. As a part of a husband and wife team, she helped garner almost half of the annual household income, earning thalers at first, which was then increased to thalers subsequently, granted by the Prince.
Indeed for the untrained eye, it is a challenge to distinguish the differences in manuscript writing between the husband and wife. As a loving husband, Johann Elias remarked that his cousin constantly looked out for gifts for Anna Magdalena and he even had her painted by court painter Antonio Cristofori OBM. Unfortunately the painting has been lost, but this is testament that this practice was rather unusual for a woman of her social standing. After Johann Sebastian died in , Anna Magdalena outlived him for 10 more years and passed away at the age of Due to the size of the family, J.
At this juncture, she was left with two sons and two daughters aged Anna Magdalena Bach juggled multiple important roles during her lifetime. Professionally, she was a talented singer, assistant, copyist, and public performance partner alongside her husband. Domestically, she was his companion, mother, wife, manager of a busy household and occasional performer on musical evenings.
Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. XL1 : n. Portland, Or. New York: Oxford UP, Roesner, Alvin Harold. Johnson, and Robert L. New York: W. Norton, Jacqueline Leung is a Hong Kong based concert pianist and educator. She has performed on four continents and is in demand as a solo and chamber musician, lecturer and adjudicator. Alongside music, her passions include traveling and cooking.
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Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach - piano - (HN 349)
Convert currency. Add to Basket. Book Description G. Henle Verlag, Sheet music.
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An authoritative edition of the 'notebook' of pieces originally written and compiled for the second wife of J. Bach, containing works by the composer himself along with contributions from contemporaries and other familymembers. Edited by Ernst-Gunter Heinemann. Convert currency.
REVISITING HISTORY: The Story of Anna Magdalena Bach