Anna Magdalena Bach
Anna Magdalena Bach (née Wilcke or Wilcken) (22 September 1701 – 22 February 1760) was an accomplished singer and the second wife of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Anna Magdalena Wilcke was born at Zeitz, in the Electorate of Saxony, to a musical family. Her father, Johann Caspar Wilcke, was a trumpet player, who had a career at the courts of Zeitz and Weißenfels. Her mother, Margaretha Elisabeth Liebe, was the daughter of an organist. Little is known about her early musical education, but it is possible that Johann Sebastian Bach first heard her sing at Weißenfels during his time as director of music at the court of Köthen. By 1721 Ana Magdalena was employed as a singer at Köthen.
Bach married Anna on December 3, 1721, 17 months after the death of his first wife, Maria Barbara Bach. Together they raised the children from his first marriage and had 13 children of their own from 1723 to 1742, seven of whom died at a young age:
- Christiana Sophia Henrietta (1723–1726)
- Gottfried Heinrich (1724–1763)
- Christian Gottlieb (1725–1728)
- Elisabeth Juliana Friederica, called "Liesgen" (1726–1781), married to Bach's pupil, Johann Christoph Altnickol
- Ernestus Andreas (1727–1727)
- Regina Johanna (1728–1733)
- Christiana Benedicta (1729–1730)
- Christiana Dorothea (1731–1732)
- Johann Christoph Friedrich, the 'Bückeburg' Bach (1732–1795)
- Johann August Abraham (1733–1733)
- Johann Christian, the 'London' Bach (1735–1782)
- Johanna Carolina (1737–1781)
- Regina Susanna (1742–1809)
Anna Magdalena continued to sing professionally after her marriage. For example, she returned to Köthen in 1729 to sing at Prince Leopold's funeral. The Bachs' shared interest in music contributed to their happy marriage. She regularly worked as a copyist, transcribing her husband's music. He wrote a number of compositions dedicated to her, most notably the two Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach. During the Bach family's time in Leipzig, Anna Magdalena organized regular musical evenings featuring the whole family playing and singing together with visiting friends. The Bach house became a musical centre in Leipzig.
Apart from music, her interests included gardening.
After Bach's death in 1750, his sons came into conflict and moved on in separate directions, leaving Anna Magdalena alone with her two youngest daughters and her stepdaughter from Bach's first marriage. While they remained loyal to her, nobody else in the family helped economically. Anna Magdalena became increasingly dependent upon charity and handouts from the city council; when she died on February 27, 1760, she was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave at Leipzig's Johanniskirche (de) (St. John's Church). The church was destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II.
A possible composer
Recently, it has been suggested that Anna Magdalena Bach composed several musical pieces bearing her husband's name. Professor Martin Jarvis of the School of Music at Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia, claims that she composed the famed six cello suites (BWV 1007–1012) and was involved with the composition of the aria from the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), claims which have been disputed by Yo Tomita.
- Geiringer, Karl (1958) Die Musikerfamilie Bach: Leben und Wirken in drei Jahrhunderten. Unter Mitarbeit von Irene Geiringer. München. Beck. ISBN 3-406-06985-1
A fictitious autobiography The Little Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach was written in 1925 by the English author Esther Meynell. This sentimental narration of the family life of Bach is not based on any sources and is probably far from the personality of Anna Magdalena Bach.
A compilation of material about Anna Magdalena Bach has been published by Maria Hübner in 2005, Anna Magdalena Bach. Ein Leben in Dokumenten und Bildern, completed by a biographical Essay of Hans-Joachim Schulze.
- Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach
- The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach – a Straub-Huillet film about Johann Sebastian and Anna Magdalena Bach
Notes and references
- The Face of Bach by Teri Noel Towe at the Wayback Machine (archived July 16, 2011) - web page on archive.org accessed 2012-10-29, the original page is no longer accessible
- Catherine Bott, Andrew Parrott (October 2011) Reconstructions (starts about minute 12), The Early Music Show, BBC Radio 3
- Anna Magdalena Bach as copyist: discussions on Bach-cantatas.com
- Werner Neumann, Hans Joachim Schultze: Bach-Dokumente Band II – Fremdschriftliche und gedruckte Dokumente 1685–1750. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1969, p. 423.
- Koch-Kanz, Swantje & Luise F. Pusch (1988) "Die Töchter von Johann Sebastian Bach", in: Pusch, Luise F. Hg. 1988. Töchter berühmter Männer: Neun biographische Portraits. Frankfurt/M. Insel TB 979. S. 117-154. ISBN 3-458-32679-0
- Bach works were written by his second wife, claims academic. The Telegraph, 22 April 2006
- Scholar says Bach's wife may have composed some of his work, CBC news, 25 April 2006
- 'Anna Magdalena as Bach's Copyist', Understanding Bach 2 (2007) abstract accessed 2012-10-29, full text PDF also accessible
- Meynell, Esther (1925) The Little Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, reprinted 2007 by Library Reprints ISBN 1-4227-4202-4
- Maria Hübner (ed.) (2004). Anna Magdalena Bach - Ein Leben in Dokumenten und Bildern. Including a biographical essay by Hans-Joachim Schulze. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig, 2004. ISBN 3-374-02208-1