Bach FAQ 103


Children, Children: Was Bach One of Eight Siblings and Did Bach Have 20 Children with Two Wives?


Among Bach fans a very well-known picture: the painting "Morning Prayer " by Toby E. Rosenthal. It was created, however, many decades after Bach's life. From the age of the persons in the painting, you can assume that it is a situation with Bach's second wife Anna Magdalena.


Children or Siblings? Of Johann Sebastian Bach!


Yes, that is indeed a strange question. And anyway, why is it about children, about siblings and what do these different numbers mean?


Siblings, children – you can easily confuse it. Just as it happened to me for a long time again during the creation of this website and a recent time when I got a huge shock just one day before the printing of my biography for children. When I listened to the book in the audio version for the last time. There was one sentence in chapter 12 that "... in the house of the Bachs in Koethen never played seven children together"!


Now you need to know that I have never liked mathematics and I didn't shine in the most school subjects. And it was – good only every now and then – a funny situation when I forgot to count myself in a group of buddies. The following happened in my final check before I ordered the printed version of my "Johann Sebastian Bach Biography for Children". For that I checked the audio file and believe me, I checked this text for more than two dozen times. I make fun all the time, so I used the sentence "... there were never ever eight siblings playing together" once for the situation in Eisenach when Bach was one of eight kids of Ambrosius. Plus once for the first seven kids in his first marriage with Maria Barbara. As both numbers are so similar I had the alarm of my creative life. As late as that moment I realized a final time, that I messed up a period with a quarter of a century time difference. What both situations have in common? The reason, why never seven and eight kids respectively played together is because so many of them died. So caution again: Bach had 8 siblings and 20 children, 7 of them in his marriage 1.


By the way, here you get to the listing of all siblings of Johann Sebastian Bach, that is to say to the children of his parents Ambrosius and Elisabetha.


Plus here you get to the list of the children of Johann Sebastian Bach (... that is to say not the siblings) with his two wifes Maria Barbara, these are – again for you – seven children. Then those with his second wife Anna Magdalena, again thirteen more. That is a total of? Right, 20 children.




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