Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Anna Magdalena Bach: Composer?

If some scholars are right, then she penned the suites for cello as well as some other stuff. I don't knwo if I go in for this kind of thing, but here's the link (probably soon to be dead), and here's the story:
A researcher from Darwin, Australia, says he believes that many works attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach were actually written by the composer's second wife.

Martin Jarvis, a professor at Charles Darwin University School of Music, has been studying Bach's work for more than 30 years.

Bach's second wife, Anna Magdalena Bach, is traditionally believed to have been a copyist for Bach and her handwriting is known from many of his original scores.

But Jarvis believes she may actually have written some of the best-loved pieces herself, including Six Cello Suites, some of the Goldberg Variations, and the first prelude of the Well-tempered Clavier Book I.

Jarvis says it's known that Anna Magdalena was a talented musician and a student of Bach's. Born in 1701, she married him in 1721, 17 months after the death of his first wife. She bore him 13 children, seven of whom died in infancy.

"I found Anna Magdalena's handwriting in places where it shouldn't have been," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "In other words, assuming that the idea that it's her handwriting is correct, then it's in places where we really shouldn't be finding it."

Jarvis used forensic techniques to analyze the handwriting, saying the notations in her hand indicate she was working on a draft composition. Many works have no "original" score in Bach's hand.

He also studied the structure of the music before coming up with his theory. The British-born professor said he has felt there was something different about the Cello Suites since he studied them at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

"It doesn't sound musically mature. It sounds like an exercise, and you have to work incredibly hard to make it sound like a piece of music," he said.

He put forward the theory that the young woman wrote them when she was a music student. A woman's work as a composer would never have been acknowledged in Bach's time, he said.

Jarvis presented his ideas at an international symposium in London last week and will publish them in a doctorate paper later this year.

Bach scholars did not immediately dismiss Jarvis's claims. Yo Tomita, a Bach scholar based at Queen's University in Belfast, said the findings were "highly important." Others were more skeptical and said the theory could never be proven.

Bach, who lived from 1685 to 1750, was a prolific composer of more than 1,100 works, and is regarded as a great master of Baroque music.

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