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Sex, Death, and MinuetsAnna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks$
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David Yearsley

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226617701

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226617848.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Magdalena Mania

Magdalena Mania

(p.1) Chapter One Magdalena Mania
Sex, Death, and Minuets

David Yearsley

University of Chicago Press

Soon after her death in 1760 Anna Magdalena Bach was quickly forgotten. After fleeting mention in later nineteenth-century biographies of her husband, she emerged as a figure of real historical significance with the 1904 publication of her complete 1725 Notebook in an affordable modern edition that soon established itself as an essential element of German domestic musical life. The personal repertoire of Bach's wife seemed to provide a direct connection between modern musical households and that of the Bach family. Building on this sentiment was Esther Meynell's 1925 historical novel, The Little Chronicle of Magdalena Bach, which, though written in English, masqueraded initially as an authentic work by Anna Magdalena herself. Marketed in the same opportunistic way, the German translation of 1930 became a huge hit and enjoyed a relentless succession of print runs even during World War II. Many were the international translations. A landmark film borrowing the title of Meynell's book was released in 1968. Many fictionalized accounts of Anna Magdalena followed in the spirit of The Little Chronicle. As a result of these reimaginings and reanimations, Anna Magdalena's aura shines brightly still as a symbol of motherly devotion—a musical patron saint of hearth and home.

Keywords:   reception history, historical novels, women's history, Esther Meynell, World War II, inscriptions, marriage, motherhood, domestic music, cinema

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