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I have heard that some works by JS Bach were actual composed by his wife, Anna Magdalena. I believe that one of the pieces in question is The Prelude no 1 in C major from the first book of the Well tempered Clavier. Although questions of authorship do not effect the appreciation of such music for myself, I would be interested to see what the forum thinks on this issue.
 
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This comes up every couple of years. Despite having been first floated in 2008, it caught the attention of several newspapers in 2014, probably because that's when the film came out.:)

(It hit TC in 2013. Or at least that's one of the times it caught someone's eye here. The site is acting a bit cracky at the moment, but if you type Anna Magdalena in the search box, you'll find that 2013 thread.)
 

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What we do know is that the earliest manuscript of the cello suites was written by Anna Magdalena Bach. And that text contains some phrasing which some scholars believe is uncharacteristic of Johan Sebastian Bach.
 

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"Some scholars?" Please cite which scholars.

I'll repost an earlier address to these myths:

I'll deal with only one of the claims made here... the most preposterous... and that is the suggestion that the Cello Suites BWV 1007-1012 were not in fact composed by J.S. Bach but rather by his second wife Anna Magdalena Bach (AMB) according to one Australian musicologist loon, Martin Jarvis.

Let's begin by looking at the FACTS:

*The Cello Suites (BWV 1007-1012) were composed between 1717-1723 while J.S. Bach was employed at Köthen. According to analysis by musicologists making comparisons with other works, they were most likely composed before 1720

*AMB was born in 1701

*Bach's First wife dies in 1720

*J.S. Bach Marries AMB in 1721. There is no mention of AMB in any of the Bach family correspondences or any other known sources or official documentations or correspondences of Köthen suggesting any link between AMB & J.S. Bach prior to 1721.

*The Cello Suites (BWV 1007-1012) are not merely recognized as wholly in the style of J.S. Bach... but also stand as one of the most most masterful works of Bach's entire oeuvre as recognized by music lovers, musicologists, performers, etc...

Here, then, is what Martin Jarvis theory would ask us to accept:

*A 20 year old girl with no prior experience in composition composed the whole of the Cello Suites, one of the supreme masterpieces of music... within a short period of time... while also taking charge of the other duties of the wife of J.S. Bach, including raising little Johann Gottfried Bernhard and Carl Philipp Emanuel.

Now Jarvis builds on his theory, suggesting that AMB was living in the Bach household from as early as 1712 and that she took part in composing a number of "Bach's" cantatas. This is based upon the fact that he has discerned her handwriting in a number of Bach's scores dating to as early as 1712. So rather than assume (logically) that any such manuscript was likely a transcription by AMB of her husband's earlier work made at a later time, Mr. Jarvis would have us accept that AMB was responsible for composing some of J.S. Bach's mature cantatas as early as age 11... which would put such child prodigies as Mozart and even Mendelssohn to shame. :rolleyes:

*Jarvis bases the assumption that AMB composed the Cello Suites upon his personal feeling that something is not right about these works... that contrary to the opinions of nearly every other musical expert and performer the suites "don't sound like Bach"... and due to the fact that the oldest extant score of the Cello Suites is in AMB's handwriting and is signed "Written by AMB". This alone, Jarvis asserts, proves that Mrs. Bach composed the works... not merely made a transcription as a copyist as she had done on any number of other scores by J.S. Bach and continued to do over the years.

*Finally we are left with the issue of how one account for the records showing that AMB was still living with her father, Johann Caspar Wilcke, and was even employed as a singer in Köthen as late as 1721, where Bach likely met her.

But again... if it suites the efforts to deflate one of those "sacred cows" well then it is not beyond the realm of possibility to assume that the strictly religious J.S. Bach took an 11 year old girl into his home while his first wife was still living... and that this 11 year old girl composed some of J.S. Bach's mature cantatas... in spite of no record of prior experience as a composer... and that this same girl at age 20 then composed Bach's cello suites which not only mirror wholly the style of J.S. Bach... but are among the greatest of Bach's achievements. And then... for whatever reason... this same woman, AMB, went on to compose nothing more anywhere near this scale or level or artistic achievement.

I also have a bridge in Brooklyn that's for sale for the right price.


By the way... for a truly mind-blowing hoax check out Robert Newman's (banned from TC) writings across the internet asserting that Mozart and Haydn wrote virtually nothing but were rather front-men for a vast conspiracy. Newman also includes Shakespeare, Goethe, Beethoven, the moon landing, the existence of dinosaurs, 9-11... and quite likely the death of Elvis among his conspiracy theories.
 

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By the way... for a truly mind-blowing hoax check out Robert Newman's (banned from TC) writings across the internet asserting that Mozart and Haydn wrote virtually nothing but were rather front-men for a vast conspiracy. Newman also includes Shakespeare, Goethe, Beethoven, the moon landing, the existence of dinosaurs, 9-11... and quite likely the death of Elvis among his conspiracy theories.
You sound surprised. As if he's the first in the long line of kooky conspiracy theorists :rolleyes:

Other then that, great post. Or at least, I hope it is, having not the foggiest idea of Bach's familial and marital matters. As far as the music is concerned, doesn't matter who wrote it. If it's not Bach, then it's someone possessed of the genius of Bach. That's good enough.
 

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I also read before that the famous, beautiful aria to the Goldberg Variations may have been composed by the wife?

Additionally, the aria itself cannot be traced directly to Bach, with the only autograph version of the thirty-two-measure preamble appearing in the handwriting of Bach's second wife, Anna Magdalena, in one of her personal notebooks.

This does not prove the wife composed the beautiful aria. Either way it is a beautiful piece.
 

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I saw that Martin Jarvis documentary, and any time he made a reasonable claim he'd then immediately pile nonsensical speculation on top. The most egregious statement being that Bach's first wife committed suicide because of a supposed affair between JS and Anna Magdalena.

One of the contributors to the documentary subsequently wrote a rebuttal: http://bachnetwork.co.uk/ub10/ub10-tatlow-wbmb.pdf
 

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