A professor in Australia is claiming that Johann Sebastian Bach’s most beloved pieces could have actually been written by his wife. The shocking findings come after the German composer’s most acclaimed pieces of work underwent forensic analysis.
According to a report in the Telegraph, Martin Jarvis, professor of music at Charles Darwin University in Australia, says that Anna Magdalena, Bach’s second wife, was actually the composer of some of his major works, including the Cello Suites. Jarvis has been trying to prove this theory since 2006.
Jarvis put Bach’s most famous compositions through a comprehensive study of handwriting and manuscripts. All the history changing findings will be aired in a documentary, which will detail the analysis of ink and writing styles, to “prove” Mrs. Bach was much more relevant than previously thought.
The documentary — titled Written by Mrs. Bach — will be screened at the BAFTAs next week and will be presented by British composer Sally Beamish. The evidence that Bach’s wife actually wrote some of his pieces includes that of an American forensic scientist, who compared Bach’s signature to his scores.
Professor Jarvis’ intent is reportedly to reverse the “sexist” belief that renowned composers, such as Bach, were solely male and to finally restore Mrs. Bach to her rightful place in the history of music. Anna Bach was known to be her husbands transcriber in his later years, however, scientists did not believe her handwriting had the “slowness or heaviness” of someone who is simply copying and was likely following her own mind.
Researchers also noted corrections made by Bach’s wife indicating that she was making it up as she went along. The new revelations raise questions about female composers and also have great significance that could completely change music’s history, according to Beamish.
“What I found fascinating is the questions it raises about the assumptions we make: that music is always written by one person and all the great masters were male by definition.”
In those days female composers used a male relative’s name and it was not socially accepted that women would have such roles. Even though Bach’s second wife married the famous composer in 1721, Professor Jarvis believes they could have known each other as early as 1713, after finding handwriting matching hers during that time.
According to Professor Jarvis, Johann Sebastian Bach’s wife, Anna Magdalena, wrote the Cello Suites, the aria from the Goldberg Variations, and the first prelude to Clavier: Book I. Heidi Harralson, a forensic document examiner who was convinced that Anna was behind the famous pieces says, “I think she is the author. The evidence is more in her favor than it is in Bach’s.”
[Image via Tikabasa Musik]