Associate Professor conducts his way through musical mystery 


The question of whether Johann Sebastian Bach actually wrote the Six Cello Suites is one that does not come up every day.

However, artistic director of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra and local identity, Associate Professor Martin Jarvis has examined this mystery as a part of his PhD thesis.

Associate Professor Jarvis will be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy at the Charles Darwin University graduation ceremony at the Darwin Entertainment Centre tonight (Friday, 12 October).

Associate Professor Jarvis explained that the purpose of his research was to investigate the compositional origins of the Bach Six Cello Suites.

“I have been aware, since my student days at the Royal Academy of Music in London, that it is believed that the original manuscript was lost, and that the only complete manuscript is a copy by Anna Magdalena, Johann Sebastian Bach’s second wife,” he said.

“Her handwriting, it is also believed, is almost identical to Johann Sebastian.

“As a result of my desire to resolve the handwriting conundrums, I undertook an extensive period of study to become a trained forensic document examiner.”

Associate Professor Jarvis’ thesis presents findings of the scientific examination of manuscripts and other written documents attributed to both Johann Sebastian Bach and to Anna Magdalena. What has been revealed is that, at the very least, understanding of the role of Anna Magdalena in her husband’s musical output must now be re-evaluated.