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Bach's arrival in Cothen

Hannah French marks the 300th anniversary of Bach's arrival in Cothen, where he spent six happy years working for a 'gracious Prince, who both loved and knew music'.

In the fading light of December 1717, a carriage rumbles along the road to Cöthen. As the candlelit moated castle comes into view, the approaching family crane their necks to get a better look at their new home-town. The rural setting is a far cry from the hubbub of Weimar but there's promise in the air. The family are of course the Bachs, Johann Sebastian and his wife Maria Barbara, and four children: nine-year-old Catharina Dorothea, seven-year-old Wilhelm Friedman, three-year-old Carl Philipp Emanuel, and the toddler Johann Gottfried Bernhard.

This journey, taken 300 years ago, marked a new and exciting development for the young family, and considerable promotion for Bach. Looking back on the moment, Sebastian would later write: a 'change in my fortunes... took me to Cöthen as Cappellmeister. There I had a gracious Prince, who both loved and knew music, and in his service I intended to spend the rest of my life.

Hannah French delves into the history surrounding his move to Cöthen, his eventual departure, his relationship with the Prince Anhalt Cöthen, and the music he composed there.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Sonata No. 6 In G Major BWV 1019: V. Allegro

    Performer: Rachel Podger. Performer: Trevor Pinnock.
    • CHANNEL CLASSICS : ccs-14798.
    • 5.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Double Violin Concerto In D minor BWV 1042: I. Vivace

    Performer: Cecilia Bernardini. Performer: Huw Daniel. Ensemble: Dunedin Consort. Conductor: John Butt.
    • Linn CKD 519.
    • Linn.
    • 6.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Suite No. 1 In G Major BWV 1007: Prelude, Sarabande & Gigue

    Performer: David Watkin.
    • Resonus Classics RES 10147.
    • Resonus Classics.
    • 1.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Suite No. 3 In D Major BWV 1068 : Overture

    Performer: Monica Huggett. Ensemble: Sonnerie.
    • AVIE : 21-71.
    • Avie.
    • 15.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Cantata No.134a BWV 134a "Die Zeit, Die Tag Und Jahre Macht"

    Performer: Masaaki Suzuki. Singer: Damien Guillon. Singer: Makoto Sakurada. Ensemble: Japan Bach Collegium.
    • BIS-SACD-1971.
    • BIS.
    • 20.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Minuet In G Major BWV 841

    Performer: Richard Egarr.
    • EMI : 5697002.
    • EMI.
    • 14.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 In F Major BWV 1047: 1st movement

    Ensemble: Concerto Italiano.
    • NAIVE : 30412.
    • Naive.
    • 11.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, Bk.1 No. 13 In F Sharp Major: Prelude And Fugue

    Performer: Richard Egarr.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI : 907431-32.
    • 1.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Cantata No.173a BWV 173a 'Durchlauchtster Leopold': Movements I & II

    Orchestra: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. Choir: Amsterdam Baroque Choir. Conductor: Ton Koopman.
    • ERATO : 3984-27315-2.
    • ERATO.
    • 22.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Partita No. 3 In E Major BWV 1006: Prelude

    Performer: Rachel Podger.
    • 1.
  • Arcangelo Corelli

    Violin Sonata in C major, Op 5 No 3 (2nd mvt)

    Performer: Elizabeth Wallfisch. Performer: Richard Tunnicliffe. Performer: Paul Nicholson. Ensemble: The Locatelli Trio.
    • Corelli: Violin Sonatas: The Locatelli Trio.
    • Hyperion.
    • 12.