(The year in Muhlhausen as told by Maria Barbara Bach, JS Bach’s first wife)
Johann Sebastian Bach and I were married on October 17, 1707. It was a lovely affair starting in Arnstadt and continuing in Dornheim four miles away. We had such a grand time walking with all our family and friends to the little village church in Dornheim where a friend of the family married us.
After our celebration, we immediately moved to Muhlhausen where Johann had already begun his work several months earlier. I will now be with Johann to support him, provide a home for him, and to encourage him in all his musical efforts.
Things are definitely looking up in Muhlhausen. Students have started coming to Johann Sebastian asking for lessons. If you are a genius, it is a gift to be taught by Johann Sebastian Bach. If not…well things can be a little tough.
However, now that we are settled in Muhlhausen, we are finding that the congregation at St. Blaise’s is basically Pietist. We now know that Pietists believe in extreme simplicity – simplicity in everything including their music. I am told they are afraid of the excessive use of music and art in worship, with its temptations to worldliness. Some church people even wanted a complete ban on instrumental music in the service. This was not good, because what my Johann plays for them is his wonderful but complex contrapuntal music.
I have begun to wonder if St. Blaise’s in Muhlhausen is such a good place for us or not. What were they thinking when they hired my Johann Sebastian Bach?
(The anecdote above is one of a dozen vignettes from the multi-media and organ program, Bach and Sons, presented by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist.)