The National Scholars Magazine Gossip Column on Bach

The National Scholars Magazine Gossip Column on Bach

The arrival of the Johann Sebastian Bach family in Leipzig as told by Anna Magdalena, Johann Sebastian Bach’s second wife.

It is June and we have just heard that the post of Cantor at St. Thomas’ in Leipzig is open. My Johann Sebastian will immediately apply for this prestigious post. An added joy to this month is that our first baby was born and we have named her Christiana Sophia Henrietta. Her brothers, Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Phillip Emmanuel and Gottfried Bernhard and big sister, Catharina Dorothea, are delighted with the baby. Ah, but back to the Leipzig story.

Finally my husband has been asked to come to Leipzig to interview for the post of Cantor at St. Thomas. We have heard that the council is “sorry,” as they say, “that they can’t have the best, and that they will make do with what there is.” Ah, but my Johann Sebastian will show them what a composer and performer he is! Well, that is exactly what JS did! We were told that the entire council, all 32 members, unanimously elected my husband as the new Cantor of St. Thomas in Leipzig.

A very famous magazine, the National Scholars’ Magazine of the Neutral Correspondent of Holstein, has written about our move to Leipzig. It is so good, I must quote exactly what they said about the Bach family’s move: “Last Saturday around noon, four coaches with household equipment arrived from Cothen. They belonged to the former royal court Kapellmeister who was called to Leipzig and appointed Cantor at St. Thomas’s. At two o’clock he and his family arrived in two coaches and moved into the newly renovated apartment at St. Thomas’s school.” So, we are in Leipzig now. All seven of us: Catharina Dorothea who is now 15, the three boys and the baby Christiana Sophia. Our apartment is large and beautiful and takes up three floors of a huge old building over a century old.

Johann Sebastian is trying to understand his new position. He has to report to so many different people. It really is very tricky because the Kantor, my Johann Sebastian, is basically the music director for all the churches in Leipzig. In his new position as Kantor he has to answer to: the rector of the St. Thomas School; the city council made up of three burgomeisters (mayors of the town); two deputy burgomeisters; and ten assessors. My heavens! How is he going to manage to keep everyone happy? Besides that he has to compose a lot of cantatas, teach at the school, and of course play for all the services, weddings and funerals. We will be a busy family helping him with all this work!

This story is one of a dozen vignettes from the multi-media and organ program, Bach and Sons, presented by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist.