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C÷then (1717-1723)

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C÷then (1717-23) In C÷then Bach's salary doubled, and the age of his employer halved. Prince Leopold of C÷then was an energetic and enthusiastic person, who especially supported the arts. Bach developed a personal friendship with the prince which lasted even after Bach had left the place. But C÷then was a court that subscribed to the Calivinist belief; as a consequence, no instrumental music was performed in the churches of the town. The cantatas that Bach wrote during this period were performed in the court, and had to be for solo voice since there was no choral tradition in the town. The town also had no organ of any size. So, C÷then, while it was a place that encouraged instrumental music, was not conducive to choral, therefore sacred, music. In 1720 Bach accompanied the prince to the health spas of Carlsbad. When Bach returned he found that his wife, Maria Barbara, had died of a sudden illness and had been buried. At this time Bach had four children--Catharina Dorothea, Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and Johann Gottfried Bernhard (three more had died in infancy)--all three of the sons would become famous musicians themselves. Bach remarried eighteen months later, to Anna Magdalena Wilcken, a professional singer, nearly half his age, engaged at the court since the preceding year. Her salary was about half that of her husband, and it continued after the marriage. Anna Magdalena was a good mother to her stepchildren, and had twelve more herself. The stepchildren, however, did not take to her. Thirty years later, when Bach died without having left a will, the older sons of Maria Barbara pillaged the estate to the extent that Anna Magdalena had to move into the alms house with her younger children. That same year prince Leopold married. His wife was not sympathetic to the arts; in a letter Bach refers to her as amusa, that is, a person who has no muse. Tragically, she died two years later, but by then Bach had become dissatisfied at C÷then and within a couple of months he had left. Bach's major compositions from the C÷then period are the Brandenburg concerti, and the St. John Passion (which he probably composed in anticipation of his move to Leipzig, where it was first performed).


Hanford & Koster C÷then

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