Music professor to shed light on talented woman hidden from history 

Professor Martin Jarvis will deliver the public lecture “Mrs Bach and the Cello Suites” at Parliament House on 23 April

Music Professor Martin Jarvis will tell a tale of romance and intrigue when he delivers the first Inaugural Professorial Lecture by a Charles Darwin University professor in Darwin this month.

Professor Jarvis will explain how the absence of women in the historical record supports his theory that some of the works widely attributed to classical music genius Johann Sebastian Bach were more likely to have been written by his wife Anna Magdalena.

“Many women in the 18th Century were subsumed into the persona of their husbands and thus are hidden from history,” he said.

“Anna Magdalena, who was without doubt a talented musician in her own right, would not have been afforded independent recognition for her compositions and there is strong musical and circumstantial evidence which is supported by forensic evidence to suggest that she composed, at least for the most part, the Cello Suites and other works attributed to Bach.”

Professor Jarvis in 2007 was awarded a doctorate for his research thesis “Did Johann Sebastian Bach Write the Six Cello Suites?”

The findings, which suggest the need for a re-write of the history of Western classical musical, jolted the classical music world.

“It is a view that is grounded in forensic research, a passion for history and a decade invested into critically examining the detail,” he said.

Professor Jarvis said his lecture “Mrs Bach and the Cello Suites” would be the first occasion on which he has publically spoken about feminist issues in the context of his research.

“Anna Magdalena’s portrayal through history as a simple woman whose main roles were to produce children and copy Bach’s manuscripts is unbalanced.

“This lecture is about Mrs Bach, her relationship to the Six Cello Suites and hopefully will help lift the veil that has obscured her from view for the past two centuries.”

Professor Jarvis said it was an honour to have been invited to deliver Charles Darwin University’s first Inaugural Professorial Lecture.

“It is a time-honoured academic tradition that provides universities with a public forum for making an important contribution to the wider community.”

“Mrs Bach and the Cello Suites” will be delivered at Parliament House on 23 April and is open to a limited public audience. Members of the public who wish to attend must provide all guest names by email to by Monday 16 April.