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Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach)

Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach
Scene from "Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach" (photo courtesy of Filmmuseum Berlin/Deutsche Kinemathek)

Extracts from 25 pieces of music - from the Brandenburg Concert No. 5, Allegro 1, bars 147-227, to the first part of Choral BWV 668 "Before Thy throne I step" - are presented as self-contained musical sets. In between these examples of Bach's work, his second wife Anna Magdalena, whom he married in 1721 and with whom he led a happy life until he died in 1748, describes the various stages in her husband's life, from his post as conductor in Coethen until he passed away "quietly and gently". Anna Magdalena did not really leave a diary for posterity. The Short Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach published by the English author Esther Meynell in the 1920s is a compilation in exactly the same way as Jean-Marie Straub's text. The Englishwoman's book proved to be best-seller in Germany and served as the source of inspiration for the film's title.


Jean-Marie Straub was born in 1933 in Metz/France and grew up speaking French and German during the German occupation of France. He studied in Strasbourg and Nancy and worked in Paris with, among others, Abel Gance, Jean Renoir, Alexandre Astruc and Robert Bresson before meeting and teaming up with his wife Danièle Huillet. In 1958, they moved to Germany where his film Not Reconciled or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules (Nicht versoehnt oder Es hilft nur Gewalt, wo Gewalt herrscht, 1965) caused a great scandal at that year's Berlinale. Straub and Huillet have since then become prominent directors with such films as Machorka-Muff (1963), Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach, 1968), Othon (1969), History Lessons (Geschichtsunterricht, 1973), Moses and Aaron (1974), Class Relations (Klassenverhaeltnisse, 1984), From Today Until Tomorrow (Von heute auf morgen, 1997), and Sicily! (Sicilia!, 1999), among others.
Genre History, Biopic
Category Feature
Year of Production 1968
Director Jean-Marie Straub
Screenplay Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet
Cinematography Ugo Piccone
Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub
Johann Sebastian Bach
Cast Gustav Leonhardt, Christa Lang, Kathrien Leonhardt, Andreas Pangritz, Bob van Aspern, Ernst Castelli, Joachim Wolf, Rainer Kirchner
Producers Franz Seitz, Gian Vittorio Baldi, Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet
Production Company Seitz Filmproduktion/Munich, in co-production with IDI Cinematografica/Rome, Straub-Huillet Film/Munich, HR/Frankfurt, TELEPOOL/Munich
Length 93 min
Format 35 mm, b&w
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Optical
Festivals London 1968, Prades 1968
Awards Best Film London 1968, BFI Award 1968, Grand Prize Prades 1968, Bambi 1968 for Best German Film
German Distributor Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek/Berlin

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