21 April, 2006

bach v bach

It is not often that one of the world's great composers is accused of plagiarising his wife's work, but a Darwin music expert has cast doubt on whether Johann Sebastian Bach wrote all his own material. The conductor of Darwin's Symphony Orchestra and Associate Professor from the Charles Darwin University, Martin Jarvis, believes Bach's Cello Suites were composed by the German musician's second wife, Anna Magdalena.

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Martin Jarvis says there is no doubt Anna Magdalena was a talented musician. She was a student of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1714 and married him in 1721. Prof Jarvis says if in fact Anna Magdalena did compose some of the music, she would never have been credited for the work.

"Being a woman at that point, there was no likelihood that she would have been recognised as a composer," he said. "Had she remained unmarried maybe she would have been, but once she got married, it was this way for all women in society at that point, that they became the property of their husband and their intellectual property was their husband's too.

"We have lots of other examples in music history of women getting married and then publishing the music under their husband's name.

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