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Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach

"Bach with His Family at Morning Devotion", by Toby Edward Rosenthal (1870)


In the eighteenth century, copying music was a very important part of any musician’s life. That’s why in the years of 1722 and 1725 Johann Sebastian Bach gave his second wife, Anna Magdalena, two notebooks: the first one entitled “Clavier-Büchlein vor Anna Magdalena Bach in ANNO 1722”, or “Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, year 1722”; and the second one, the 1725 notebook, commonly referred to as the “Anna Magdalena Notebook”.

The 1722 notebook contains mainly pieces by J.S. Bach, such as fragments of the French Suites, an air with variations and a short organ piece. Unfortunately, only 25 unbound pages of this first notebook have reached us, what amounts to about a third of its estimated original size.

The better known 1725 notebook, more richly decorated and better bound than the first one, did reach this day in much better condition. Its fine binding work and gilt edging, strongly suggests it was a gift from J. S. Bach to his wife to celebrate a very special occasion: possibly, either her 24th birthday on September 22nd, 1725, or their wedding anniversary on December 3rd.

Anna Magdalena was very much musically inclined and was employed as a singer at the time of their marriage. In Bach's own words, she could sing "decent soprano".

Bach copied the first two pieces on the notebook, as part of the gift for his wife: the very first one is the partita BWV 827 in A minor, or AM, which are Anna Magdalena’s initials. The second piece is the partita in E minor, BWV 830.

The notebook also contains several dances, arias, chorales and other pieces of music by several composers, including Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach, Christian Petzold, François Couperin, Georg Bohm and other musician friends of the Bach family. Most entries were copied by Anna Magdalena herself, but the presence of the handwritings of Johan Sebastian, Carl Phillip Emmanual and Johann Christian Bach indicates that maintaining the notebook was a family effort.

Most of the pieces are technically quite accessible, a fact which denotes an important didactical value to them. Quite possibly, these pieces were not only for musical enjoyment of the Bach family, but also for the musical education of its younger members. Bach probably knew that initiation to keyboard instrument playing would take something easier and simpler than his Inventions and Sinfonias, especially for children.

In addition to that, Anna Magdalena was known to have organized several musical gatherings at the Bach household, where visitors were encouraged to perform and also to compose new pieces for the Notebook, which were promptly copied to it.

It has recently been suggested by researchers that Anna Magdalena may have composed some pieces which bore her husband’s name, namely the six cello suites, BWV 1007-1012, and the aria from the Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, which was entered into the 1725 notebook. This claim is not universally accepted by all scholars, though.

Johann Sebastian and Anna Magdalena had a happy marriage to which their common interest in music certainly contributed. Unfortunately, after Bach’s death in 1850, their sons parted different ways due to disagreements, and Anna Magdalena became increasingly dependent on charity and government handouts. She died in 1860 and was buried in a pauper’s grave.

The complete listing of the pieces which have reached us in the 1722 and in the 1725 notebook are below:

1722 notebook:

1. Five keyboard suites. The first three are fragments of the pieces that are now known as the first three French Suites, BWV 812–814. The next two are complete suites, French Suites Nos. 4 and 5, BWV 815–816. The minuets of suites 2 and 3 are separated from the rest of their respective suites and were most probably added at a later date by Anna Magdalena Bach (they are almost certainly in her hand), some time before 1725.
2. Fantasia pro organo, unfinished, BWV 573. A short organ piece, 12 complete bars and the beginning notes of the 13th bar.
3. Air with variations in C minor, unfinished, BWV 991. The first 10 bars feature coherent two-part writing, but the remaining 35 bars only have one voice written out.
4. “Jesus, meine Zuversicht”, chorale prelude, BWV 728. A brief (9 bars) piece in three voices, features two sections with repeats for each.
5. “Minuet in G major”, BWV 841 (not to be confused with Petzold's Minuet in G Major in the 1725 notebook). A short dance with simplistic two-part writing and two sections with repeats for each.

1725 notebook:

1. Keyboard partita in A minor, BWV 827. This is the third partita from Bach's set of Partitas for keyboard BWV 825–830, which was published in 1731 as the first volume of Clavier-Übung.
2. Keyboard partita in E minor, BWV 830. This is the sixth partita from Bach's set of Partitas for keyboard BWV 825–830.
3. Minuet in F major, BWV Anh. 113.
4. Minuet in G major, BWV Anh. 114. Usually attributed to Christian Petzold.
5. Minuet in G minor, BWV Anh. 115. Usually attributed to Christian Petzold.
6. Rondeau in B-flat major, BWV Anh. 183. This piece is by François Couperin and is best known under the original title: Les Bergeries.
7. Minuet in G major, BWV Anh. 116.
8a. Polonaise in F major, BWV Anh. 117a.
8b. Polonaise in F major, BWV Anh. 117b.
9. Minuet in B-flat major, BWV Anh. 118.
10. Polonaise in G minor, BWV Anh. 119.
11. Chorale prelude “Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten”, BWV 691.
12. Chorale setting “Gib dich zufrieden und sei stille” in F major, BWV 510.
13a. Chorale setting “Gib dich zufrieden und sei stille” in G minor, BWV 511.
13b. Chorale setting “Gib dich zufrieden und sei stille” in E minor, BWV 512.
14. Minuet in A minor, BWV Anh. 120.
15. Minuet in C minor, BWV Anh. 121.
16. March in D major, BWV Anh. 122. Usually attributed to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
17. Polonaise in G minor, BWV Anh. 123. Usually attributed to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
18. March in G major, BWV Anh. 124. Usually attributed to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
19. Polonaise in G minor, BWV Anh. 125. Usually attributed to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
20a. Aria “So oft ich meine Tobackspfeife” in D minor, BWV 515.
20b. Aria “So oft ich meine Tobackspfeife” in G minor, BWV 515a.
21. Menuet fait par Mons. Böhm, by Georg Böhm. Not included in the BWV catalogue.
22. Musette in D major, BWV Anh. 126.
23. March in E-flat major, BWV Anh. 127.
24. (Polonaise) in D minor, BWV Anh. 128.
25. Aria “Bist du bei mir”, BWV 508. This composition is probably the most well-known of the arias of the 1725 notebook. Its melody is by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel.[4]
26. Keyboard aria in G major, BWV 988/1. Another well-known piece, this is the aria of the Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. Christoph Wolff has suggested that this Aria was entered into the two blank pages of this book by Anna Magdalena later, in 1740.
27. Solo per il cembalo in E-flat major, BWV Anh. 129. A harpsichord piece by Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach.
28. Polonaise in G major, BWV Anh. 130. Possibly composed by Johann Adolph Hasse.
29. Prelude in C major, BWV 846/1. This is the first prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1, with bars 16–20 omitted, most likely in order to make the piece fit in two pages.
30. Keyboard suite in D minor, BWV 812. This is the first French Suite.
31. Keyboard suite in C minor, BWV 813. This is an incomplete version of the second French Suite.
32. Movement in F major, BWV Anh. 131. The handwriting looks like that of a child, and apparently the piece is an attempt to create a bass line for a given melody.
33. Aria “Warum betrübst du dich”, BWV 516.
34. Recitative “Ich habe genug” and aria “Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen” (solo), BWV 82/2,3.
35. Chorale setting “Schaff's mit mir, Gott”, BWV 514.
36. Minuet in D minor, BWV Anh. 132.
37. Aria “Wilst du dein Herz mir schenken” (subtitled Aria di Giovannini), BWV 518.
38. Aria “Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen”, unfinished, BWV 82/3.
39a. Chorale setting “Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen” (version for choir), BWV 299.
39b. Chorale setting “Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen” (solo), BWV 299.
40. Song “Wie wohl ist mir, o Freund der Seelen”, BWV 517.
41. Aria “Gedenke doch, mein Geist, zurücke”, BWV 509.
42. Chorale “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort”, BWV 513.

References:
1. Wikipedia. Anna Magdalena Bach. November 7, 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Magdalena_Bach
2. Wikipedia. Notebook for Anna Magdalea Bach. November 7, 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notebook_for_anna_magdalena_bach
3. Palmer, Willard A. (Editor). J. S. Bach - Selections from Anna Magdalena's Notebook. Second Edition, 1992 - Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. p. 1
4. Heinemann, Ernst-Günter (Editor). J. S. Bach. Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach. Urtext Edition. G. Henle Verlag. G Henle USA Inc., St. Louis, MO, pages V-VI
5. Johann Sebastian Bach. Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. Kalmus Edition. Van Nuys, California, Alfred Publishing |Co., Inc., pages 3-7
6. Rossi, Nino (Editor). BACH - 14 peças fáceis do livro de "Ana Magdalena Bach". São Paulo, Ricordi Brasileira S.A. - Editores. p. 2

--article written by Marcelo da Silva


BWV 515
Aria "So oft ich meine Tobackspfeife" in D minor
1:06
Silva, M. da
BWV 846/1
Prelude in C Major
2:04
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 113
Menuet in F Major
1:40
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 114
Menuet in G Major
1:21
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 115
Menuet in G minor
1:25
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 116
Menuet in G Major
1:37
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 118
Menuet in B-flat Major
1:21
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 119
Polonaise in G minor
0:59
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 120
Menuet in A Minor
1:29
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 121
Menuet in C minor
1:08
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 123
Polonaise in G minor
1:47
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 125
Polonaise in G minor
1:35
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 126
Musette in D Major
1:02
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 131
Untitled movement in F Major
1:00
Silva, M. da
BWV Anh. 132
Menuet in D minor
0:51
Silva, M. da

Menuet fait par Mons. Bohm (Georg Böhm)
1:22
Silva, M. da