Three for the Two Wives of J. S. Bach
Mariane Sepers from Dordrecht, Netherlands, wrote a note in part about the
two wives of Bach, Maria Barbara and Anna Magdalena, whom she thought could
be remembered with pieces in their honor. Of course, aside from the adage
that behind a "good man is a good woman" -- which by rights inverts in this
modern age depending on those involved -- both these women were by all
reports well-loved wives and mothers of the large Bach household,
accomplished musicians in their own right, and each 'suffered' under the
times, from Maria's early surprisingly and obviously devastating demise to
Anna's surviving J. S. Bach only to die in privation and want.
as well as J. S. Bach also shared the sad experience of having to bury their
own children, as did young children have to experience the death of parents
as is the history of J. S. Bach's parents dying when he was but nine years
old. The portraits below are as presented on a number of sites, though
issues of authenticity offer interesting diversions from the lives and work
of very real and very human indiviuduals.
so-called "young" Bach
Prelude and Fugue in C major
Maria Barbara Bach (1684-1720)
germ for the little prelude is drawn from the Bachs' time in Mühlhausen, in
the early Gott ist mein König ('God is my King', BWV 71). As with the
fugue below, the dalliance with the median major injects harmonic color into
the diatonic piece.
fugue is a short two measure theme, appearing in both the tonic, median and
ii: Prelude and Fugue in G major
Magdalena Wilcke Bach (1701-1760)
theme for the prelude is drawn from the Notenbüchlein vor A.M. Bachin,
or "Little Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach." The theme is preceded with
sevenths and small clusters as introduction. In the hand of several who
added to the notebook, the practice of the era was to copy as instruction,
as indeed did the young Johann Sebastian Bach copy out works by such as
Jakob Froberger, Johann Caspar Kerll and Pachelbel.
fugue is a four-measure theme, simply outlining tonic and dominant.
Fantasia as Counterpoint for Two Wives
for Mariane Sepers
themes for this fantasia are the famed B-A-C-H colored by the head motive of
the "Dies irae" singing of its "day of wrath," in a mostly two-part
fabric between chord progressions,
sometimes polytonal with the twelfth above added as if an ersatz 'nazard' or 'quint'
register for the organ. Domestic happiness alongside domestic tragedy, and
life's blessings mixed with life's deepest burdens, combine as counterpoint
links themes together into a Gestalt to frame the larger picture in the
mind's eye and musical imagination. The dedication is my appreciation for
some thought-provoking reflections.
pages, circa 12' 30" - an MP3 demo is here:
The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major
commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior
arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano
for the Two Wives of J. S. Bach