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Thread: Bach's Wife

  1. #1
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    Bach's Wife

    Professor of music Martin Jarvis claims that some of the great musicians works were written by his wife Anna Magdalena.
    The professod has spent mang hours since 2006 comparing handwritten evidence.
    Heidi Harrison a forensic handwriting expert is convinced within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty.
    Ahh those solo cello suites will never sound the same again.
    We must carefully consider to what extent our listening is affected by our knowledge of the source.
    Could it possibly be that women composers have been supressed by men ? History has a long tradition of assuming men are superior.

  2. #2
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    Re: Bach's Wife

    Interesting. Link?
    "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." - Ronald Reagan

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    Re: Bach's Wife

    I don't think I'm buying his claim, after reading some articles including this one: http://www.nationalreview.com/articl...-tim-cavanaugh

    But if you like that kind of thing, you may enjoy reading about how some renaissance "great masters" may have traced their paintings using camera obscura: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/014...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." - Ronald Reagan

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    Re: Bach's Wife

    My apologies for poor communication I'm using an old mobile given to me by my daughter.
    I managed to get the gist of the article but what is the cause of the outrage.
    I'm a great admirero of Charles Darwin but to quote from the descent of man.
    ' The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man's attaining a higher eminance in what ever he takes up than can woman--whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of senses and hands.
    That attitude still prevails to the present day .
    I wonder if Professor Martin had suggested a male alternative if the outcry would have been so ferciferous.
    We have had a few male suggestions in the case of the Shakespeare plays.

  5. #5
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    Re: Bach's Wife

    It seems that the experts just don't agree with him. That isn't outrage. They just think he is wrong.
    "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." - Ronald Reagan

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    Re: Bach's Wife

    Quote Originally Posted by evensaul View Post
    It seems that the experts just don't agree with him. That isn't outrage. They just think he is wrong.
    There are two plain facts to this matter:

    1. It was not at all unusual for a composer to work with a copyist, and many times a spouse filled that role. We can see that Bach's handwriting deteriorated considerably until he became completely blind. At that point his wife did wrote everything down for him, and during these last few years of his life we can see from their journals that they were in the middle of refining music that Bach had written even in Weimar and Cothen, so he was going over his whole life's work at that point (he had been in Leipzig for decades by then). Such a thing was common and clearly to be expected when you are such an achieved composer that you have made music for the entire five year liturgical cycle.

    2. Bach's music was of such a uniqueness and complexity, that it would have been literally impossible for someone else to compose in the same manner. One would have to have been exposed to as much music from all over Europe, the ability to insert mathematical puzzles in contrapuntal figures at an unprecedented level, an extremely progressive understanding of tonal harmony (Mendelssohn commented that it took them until the Romantic period to catch up with his chromaticism, odd cadences, and augmented, diminished, and suspended chords), and purposely suggestive details in orchestration.

    The orchestration methods in particular would have required an intimacy with every instrument in the baroque orchestra that Anna Magdalena Bach simply wouldn't have had, seeing as she was just a keyboardist and soprano. She wouldn't have known what the uppermost range of a bassoon was at the time well enough to have them play that high as the choir sings Herr Jesu "thou art most high" in the first chorus of the St. Matthew. Such an association wouldn't have been notable to anyone else, seeing as the upper range of a bassoon is relatively mid range compared to other instruments.

    So I'm afraid you'll have to apologize to Herr Bach, meine freude. Consider this pleasure your apology:


    Last edited by Lukecash12; June 13th, 2015 at 12:51 AM.
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
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  9. #7
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    Re: Bach's Wife

    I did listen to the piece but it was too deep for my simple tastes. In music as in everything else I'm an average enquiring layman. It is the popular Bach that appeals to me. I find I need simplicity as in Jesu Joy, or air on G string. I'm the same with all great composers Beethoven looses me in his late quartets. The music must go straight to the heart to move me then the tears can flow.
    I'm rather easily convinced by a good argument , tossed on a sea of knowledgable facts but then I'm not an innovator just an interested follower. I'm always suprised how variable expert opinion is on all important subjects. I worry about the supression of women in our world and have considerable fears that we have pushed them into second class citizens.

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    Re: Bach's Wife

    Quote Originally Posted by kaptonok View Post
    I worry about the supression of women in our world and have considerable fears that we have pushed them into second class citizens.
    What part of the world do you live in, kaptonok? It can't be the western hemisphere, or else you have zero knowledge of the advances in women's rights over the last couple hundred years.
    "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." - Ronald Reagan

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    Re: Bach's Wife

    Quote Originally Posted by kaptonok View Post
    I did listen to the piece but it was too deep for my simple tastes. In music as in everything else I'm an average enquiring layman. It is the popular Bach that appeals to me. I find I need simplicity as in Jesu Joy, or air on G string. I'm the same with all great composers Beethoven looses me in his late quartets. The music must go straight to the heart to move me then the tears can flow.
    I'm rather easily convinced by a good argument , tossed on a sea of knowledgable facts but then I'm not an innovator just an interested follower. I'm always suprised how variable expert opinion is on all important subjects. I worry about the supression of women in our world and have considerable fears that we have pushed them into second class citizens.
    Hey, no hard feelings. It's awesome to see people with an interest for my favorite composer. Personally I love his sacred music the best, but I can see why his more simple, instrumental music has a broader appeal. You say that there is variable expert opinions, and I understand that this can be confusing for lay people. What we have to take stock of here is not only that there is a general consensus against names like Jarvis and Harrison, but there are a number of facts that fundamentally disprove their claims, facts that are easy to understand and prove, and most importantly they are facts which musical lay persons can understand. In my last post I touched just a bit on such details, for example Bach's familiarity with the instruments, a familiarity that would have been impossible to replicate for someone who didn't have as much experience (think back to my example about bassoons).

    Bach treasured his wife and there is a wealth of Christian testimony in his life when it comes to that. A wonderful book for lay people that I would recommend on that subject is Bach's Passion, which is full of references to the personal journals of the Bach family. What's notable is that he does credit her for a number of his themes and wrote a keyboard study especially for her (it bears her name). If his sons credit him for these compositions then I have all the trust in the world for their accounts, CPE Bach and WF Bach are our primary sources on the man after all and as far as they were concerned they weren't writing about anyone famous. In fact in their time they became more famous than Bach, and while JS Bach was adored in academic circles his name didn't become famous until a century later, when Mendelssohn premiered the St. Matthew Passion and Brandenburg Concertos. What I fail to see here is any reasonable motive for such a conspiracy, especially when we take stock of the fact that Bach's sons actually discredited him in parts of their accounts because he was locked into his own evolving musical ideas during the early classical (rococo) period. This was why they felt that he would never be famous, and for the most part they credited him with being a great musician and fantastic teacher.

    This baffles me because looking from a more modern, musicological perspective without such biases based purely on genre, we can see that Bach's music had compelling text that he worked out with his pastor and a Catholic librettist named Picander, incredibly inventive orchestration, all kinds of fun mathematical puzzles mostly found in his canons and fugues, other forms of hidden symbolism e.g. the shape of a cross being visible on the sheets as you read the St. Matthew and St. John Passions, a progressive understanding of tonality that composers wouldn't catch up with for over a century, an encyclopedic knowledge of many styles of music all over Europe (e.g. dotted eighth note and sixteenth note rhythms in his music that were reminiscent of a french overture, violin solos with distinctly Italian harmonies and rhythms), and an incredibly prolific output of music. The man perfected his craft by writing over three thousand pieces of music, at least that we've found so far. In terms of sacred music alone, he fulfilled his ultimate life's goal of writing music for the entire five year liturgical cycle for Lutherans. A seminal work called "The Art of Fugue" functions as a charming catalog of every known style of fugue all over Europe. The Well Tempered Clavier celebrated the new tuning system of "Equal Temperament" by displaying a wonderful prelude and fugue for each major and minor key, twice because there is a book one and book two covering it all!

    So it is exceedingly obvious to most any musicologist that a composer this prolific simply could not be parroted by someone else, and scholars like Jarvis and Harrison are clearly being dishonest in order to appeal to emotions like your own about women being second class citizens. How can I know that off hand? For starters I'm not familiar with either of them writing for a reputable publisher and I've been a passionate amateur of musicology for decades. Secondly their arguments are way off base considering her own musical background. Thirdly her sons don't indicate anything of the kind, even though they had no motive to preserve their father's already nonexistent fame. Lastly, I doubt anyone could attempt to pass their works off for that of the most prolific composer of all time, which I can maintain as an empirical statement because no other composer that we know of has such an encyclopedic, astonishingly large, and amazingly complex body of music.

    Here's something instrumental for your listening pleasure:

    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
    Nahj ul-Balāgha by Ali bin Abu-Talib

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    Re: Bach's Wife

    Quote Originally Posted by kaptonok View Post
    History has a long tradition of assuming men are superior.
    You say assuming as though it isn't true....
    The U.S. is currently enduring a zombie apocalypse. However, in a strange twist, the zombie's are starving.

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    Re: Bach's Wife

    Lukecash that is extraordinary at times the violin seems to answer itself and at other times it seems to echo its own phrase. I get the feeling Bach is trying to get more out than the poor instrument can cope with yet it is nothing like List when he streches the piano to its limit. There is nothing flamboyant about this music it runs to a rigid theme. I must need hear this a few times and brush following music. This looks hand written the lines joining the notes curve and often dont meet the tail of the note. I know this must be immensly difficult to play chords dont come easy on a violin. It is a wonderful instument but I'm used to hearing it accompanied by the piano as in the Beethoven sonatas which touch me deeply.
    It is sad if intelligent people distort the truth, or lie to make a valid moral point, but I can understand them.Sometimes the truth is unpalitable and goes against our instictive beliefs. It is said that education banishes ignorance but it can also inflate the ego and confirm error.
    I have no higher qualifications but I dabble in most things attempting to make sense of the world. Every day that passes I'm reminded of my ignorance and thats very good for my soul. I have those around me who love me warts and all.

    ---------- Post added at 11:06 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:56 AM ----------

    Ibelsd I take your comment as tongue in cheek for I think you take pride in fortrightness.
    We all have our styles and that is good but you must not hide under humour; say what you think even at the risk of being wrong or shot down.
    I cannot teach you history we all know it and we should all be ashamed of the darker passages.

    ---------- Post added at 11:20 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:06 AM ----------

    Evensaul it is true that us westerners have improved our treatment of women and compared to many parts of the world we are angels.
    I have been the under-dog a few times in my life and I know what persecution feels like.
    The greatest gift in man is compassion that is why I love ' the good samariton ', but it is not just compassion about misfortune there is more to it than that. We need to try and walk in the strangers shoes. It is why I am a socialist for Im not only my brothers keeper I look out for him when he stumbles.

    ---------- Post added at 11:21 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:20 AM ----------

    Lukecash that is extraordinary at times the violin seems to answer itself and at other times it seems to echo its own phrase. I get the feeling Bach is trying to get more out than the poor instrument can cope with yet it is nothing like List when he streches the piano to its limit. There is nothing flamboyant about this music it runs to a rigid theme. I must need hear this a few times and brush following music. This looks hand written the lines joining the notes curve and often dont meet the tail of the note. I know this must be immensly difficult to play chords dont come easy on a violin. It is a wonderful instument but I'm used to hearing it accompanied by the piano as in the Beethoven sonatas which touch me deeply.
    It is sad if intelligent people distort the truth, or lie to make a valid moral point, but I can understand them.Sometimes the truth is unpalitable and goes against our instictive beliefs. It is said that education banishes ignorance but it can also inflate the ego and confirm error.
    I have no higher qualifications but I dabble in most things attempting to make sense of the world. Every day that passes I'm reminded of my ignorance and thats very good for my soul. I have those around me who love me warts and all.

  14. #12
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    Re: Bach's Wife

    Quote Originally Posted by kaptonok View Post
    Lukecash that is extraordinary at times the violin seems to answer itself and at other times it seems to echo its own phrase. I get the feeling Bach is trying to get more out than the poor instrument can cope with yet it is nothing like List when he streches the piano to its limit. There is nothing flamboyant about this music it runs to a rigid theme. I must need hear this a few times and brush following music. This looks hand written the lines joining the notes curve and often dont meet the tail of the note. I know this must be immensly difficult to play chords dont come easy on a violin. It is a wonderful instument but I'm used to hearing it accompanied by the piano as in the Beethoven sonatas which touch me deeply.
    It is sad if intelligent people distort the truth, or lie to make a valid moral point, but I can understand them.Sometimes the truth is unpalitable and goes against our instictive beliefs. It is said that education banishes ignorance but it can also inflate the ego and confirm error.
    I have no higher qualifications but I dabble in most things attempting to make sense of the world. Every day that passes I'm reminded of my ignorance and thats very good for my soul. I have those around me who love me warts and all.
    Your candor about your own limitations is a sign of intellectual health and I would like to express my appreciation of this quality. It takes a specific kind of intelligence and self awareness to possess "Socratic ignorance". This quality, I believe, should be emulated by anyone who pretends to be intelligent or informed. And believe you me, I am often at the same point. In fact, it seems to me that I don't practice as much Socratic ignorance as I might like to say that I do.

    You're absolutely right that Bach was pushing the boundaries of the viola da gamba (interestingly enough, in his time there weren't violins). What you saw was a verified example of Bach's own handwriting. And yes, it truly is sad that intelligent people use pernicious motives with material so edifying and beloved as Bach's music. I've seen similar claims about Palestrina, Perotin, Ockeghem, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, the list goes on and on. Do we really need to resort to such methods in order to contribute something to the modern moral discussion? Nope.
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
    Nahj ul-Balāgha by Ali bin Abu-Talib

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    Re: Bach's Wife

    Could it be that removing the frets from the da gamba made it a better instrument?
    I would have thought much more difficult to play since a thin metal fret exactly defines the length of the string and the exact finger position is not needed.
    How can fingers which are round and soft accurately define an exact length?
    Maybe less technology between the player and the sound is better ; in which case the voice would be the best musical instrument.
    Yet look at the complexity of the piano but there is no sound like it.
    Like everything else sound and music throws up a host of questions, perhaps we had better just listen rather than ask.
    Deep biological knowlege can spoil the beauty of a flower, and I suspect deep investigation cannot fully explain the magic of music.

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    Re: Bach's Wife

    Maybe if you meant PDQ Bach... Bach was good enough to call out notes to a transcriptionist from his head. Having his work in another's handwriting is not surprising at all. Bach's eyesight was notoriously bad so it would make sense he would have someone else do his initial drafts. His work, however, was quite singular in nature and easily seen to be his. I think this is a red herring.

 

 

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