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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: 17 September 2021

Bitter Bean and Loose Ließgen: On Coffee, Cantatas, and Unwed Daughters

Bitter Bean and Loose Ließgen: On Coffee, Cantatas, and Unwed Daughters

(p.151) Chapter Five Bitter Bean and Loose Ließgen: On Coffee, Cantatas, and Unwed Daughters
Sex, Death, and Minuets

David Yearsley

University of Chicago Press

Anna Magdalena Bach's Notebooks were meant for the home, but the cosmopolitan music they contain also referred to the wider world beyond. In the first half of the eighteenth century in Leipzig women were becoming increasingly involved in the city's public sphere: its coffee houses, fairs and other aspects of a vibrant consumer culture. Johann Sebastian Bach's Coffee Cantata (BWV 211) engages directly with that culture, its contradictions and conflicts. The work seems to call into question the notion that women might articulate a position of independence through engagement with the fashionable world. This was a musical entertainment that staged family tension, patriarchal anxiety, and the problem of unwed daughters—all serious themes, notwithstanding the veneer of humor generated by the lampooning of contemporary fads, in particular the desire for coffee and hoop skirts. The cantata might well have offered a dramatic role to one of the composer's own daughters, to be heard and seen in coffeehouse or salon. Whatever the case, the work casts an ambiguous light on the female musicians of the Bach family, on Anna Magdalena's Notebooks, and, more generally, on women and performance in mid-eighteenth-century Lutheran Germany.

Keywords:   cosmopolitanism, coffee houses, public sphere, consumer culture, secular cantatas, salons, sentimental marriage, unwed daughters, hoop skirt, fashion, sex

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