Maria Barbara Bach

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Maria Barbara Bach (20 October 1684 – buried 7 July 1720) was the first wife of composer Johann Sebastian Bach. She was also his second cousin, the daughter of Johann Michael Bach.

Personal life[edit]

See also: Bach family

Maria was born at Gehren, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen. She married Johann Sebastian Bach during his tenure as organist of Mühlhausen's St. Blasius Church, a position he assumed in midsummer 1707. That August, he received an inheritance of 50 gulden (more than half his annual salary) from his maternal uncle, Tobias Lämmerhirt. This facilitated the marriage which occurred on 17 October at Dornheim, a village near Arnstadt, her hometown and his previous post. Little is known of her life or their marriage, except that they were contented.

According to her second surviving son, Carl Philipp Emanuel, Maria Barbara's death in 1720 came quickly and unexpectedly: Johann Sebastian was accompanying his employer, the Duke of Köthen, as the duke went to take the waters at the Carlsbad spa (the Duke brought his musicians along to provide him with entertainment). When he left, Maria Barbara was in normal health; when he returned two months later, he learned that she had died and been buried on 7 July. The cause of her death is unknown, but speculations include infectious disease or complications from pregnancy.

Maria Barbara bore seven children, three of whom died at an early age:

  • Catharina Dorothea (28 December 1708 – 14 January 1774).
  • Wilhelm Friedemann (22 November 1710 – 1 July 1784).
  • Johann Christoph (23 February 1713 – 23 February 1713).
  • Maria Sophia (23 February 1713 – 15 March 1713), twin of Johann Christoph.
  • Carl Philipp Emanuel (8 March 1714 – 14 December 1788).
  • Johann Gottfried Bernhard (11 May 1715 – 27 May 1739).
  • Leopold Augustus (15 November 1718 – 29 September 1719).

Anna Magdalena Wilcke became Johann's second wife 17 months after Maria Barbara's death and raised her stepchildren along with her own children with Johann Sebastian Bach.