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Film on Bach research has international premiere

By Leanne Miles

A documentary entitled “Written by Mrs Bach” based on the book of the same name written by Professor Martin Jarvis has premiered in Europe A documentary entitled “Written by Mrs Bach” based on the book of the same name written by Professor Martin Jarvis has premiered in Europe

A film based on pioneering research by a Charles Darwin University academic, which shocked the classical music world in 2006, has premiered at the Leipzig Film and Documentary Festival in Germany and screened in London at the BAFTAs.

The documentary entitled “Written by Mrs Bach” is based on the book of the same name written by Professor Martin Jarvis and directed by BAFTA winning filmmaker Alex McCall.

This globally significant research by Professor Jarvis changed the course of music history, suggesting that some of Johann Sebastian Bach's most significant works were most likely composed by his second wife, Anna Magdalena.

“Forensically, handwriting is a biometric, just like a fingerprint of a person," Professor Jarvis said. "Anna Magdalena's musical calligraphy is her written fingerprint, and along with her musical fingerprint (the sound), I believe she was the true composer of the famed Cello Suites."

The film documents Professor Jarvis’ research, which was undertaken at CDU in Darwin, and his visit to Leipzig, Germany the home of Bach and Anna Magdalena and where the Cello Suites were believed to have been composed.

The film sets out the case for Anna Magdalena Bach and investigates the impact on the value of Bach autographs in the wake of Professor Jarvis’ research.

Professor Jarvis entered a sea of controversy when he published his book, based on a decade of research combining the principles and techniques of scientific forensic document examination and traditional musical analysis techniques to test his theory.

Upon his visit to the Bach-Archive in Leipzig, Professor Jarvis took on scholars and protagonists who defend the believed truth of Bach as composer.

“Written by Mrs Bach” is a science-based investigative documentary presented by British composer Sally Beamish and follows Professor Jarvis on his fact finding mission to gather advice from a team of experts, musicians and academics, travelling to Cöthen in Germany and Karlsbad in the Czech Republic, and ending in the UK at the Royal Academy of Music.

The documentary features extensive footage of Professor Jarvis at work as a conductor and at his home in Darwin. The documentary also features interviews with CDU Historian Professor Alan Powell, Music Librarian Glenda Snyder and PhD candidate Penny Reiss, who is continuing to research the Anna Magdalena story.

The film premiered in the Leipzig Film and Documentary Festival on October 31. It was also given two screenings in London at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts on October 29.