Bach likely intended the simple binary dances as teaching material

Monday, December 19th, 2022

I recently heard the famous Minuet in G major, but I had to ask what the name of the piece was — which wasn’t very helpful — and the name of the composer — which was rather confusing:

The little keyboard student said it was by Christian Petzold. That can’t be right. Isn’t it by Bach? Ah, therein lies a tale!

The second Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach was started in 1725. It opened with two harpsichord suites, that is, the Partitas BWV 827 and 830, composed and written down by Johann Sebastian Bach. Anna Magdalena Bach likely received the notebook from her husband in the autumn of 1725, as a present for either her birthday (22 September) or their wedding anniversary (3 December). Nos. 3 to 11 in the notebook are keyboard pieces written down by Anna Magdalena, likely shortly after she was given the volume. No. 3, the first piece after the two seven-movement Partitas, is a Minuet in F major by an unknown composer (likely not Bach), adopted as No. 113 in the second annex (German: Anhang, Anh.), that is the annex of doubtful compositions, in the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV). Petzold’s Minuets in G major and G minor, BWV Anh. 114 and 115, are the next two entries in the notebook (Nos. 4 and 5). These pieces may have been brought back from Dresden by Johann Sebastian when he visited this city in September 1725.

Bach likely intended the simple binary dances contained in Anna Magdalena’s notebooks, including the Minuets entered without composer indication, as teaching material, likely rather for his younger children than for his wife.


  1. Jim says:

    This sort of thing could lead one to believe that in Preoccupation Germany one could throw a rock in any direction and hit a top-tier composer.

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