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.