Steven Isserlis on Anna Magdalena Bach

And speaking of Bach, cellist Steven Isserlis has spoken out on the Guardian’s website against the claim that Anna Magdalena Bach wrote works attributed to her husband Johann Sebastian.

He doesn’t believe it either.

I’m afraid that his theory is pure rubbish. Anna Magdalena Bach did not write the Bach suites, any more than Anne Hathaway wrote Shakespeare’s plays, George Henry Lewes wrote George Eliot’s novels, or Freddie Starr ate his friend’s hamster.

Interesting counter to my dismissal of the graphology argument, though:

The main “evidence” for the theory seems to be the testimony of a handwriting expert, who has decided that Anna Magdalena’s copy shows that “the speed of the writing and the spacing between pen lifts were suggestive of composing rather than copying”. Why? Certainly to my eyes—and incidentally to those of the two musicians I know who were interviewed for the film, neither of whom believe the theory in any way—it is clearly a copy. There are no alterations or second thoughts, as there would be in a working manuscript.

This is certainly more sober than the nonsense Martin Jarvis has posited about creative outpourings, but I’m still skeptical that handwriting analysis can provide much more than the identity of the person holding the pen.


I almost missed this article, but luckily Limelight Magazine didn’t.

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