BWV 508

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Bist du bei mir

BWV 508 performed by Charles Daniels,
Menno van Delft and Fred Jacobs
at the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam

Tenor Charles Daniels talks about the Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach.

A token of love

Bach gave the second Notenbüchlein to his wife as a gift.

If Bach wrote one singalong tune, it was surely Bist du bei mir? Unfortunately not. Although Bach did have a hand in it, the song itself is by… Stölzel. The theme was a wonderful choice to open his gift music book to Anna Magdalena: a simple song of gratitude, trust, faith in God and faith in his second wife. We do not know how the couple were familiar with the aria from Stölzel’s Diomedes, but maybe the opera was so fashionable that tout Leipzig was humming the melody.

The Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach
Shortly after their arrival in Leipzig in 1723, Johann Sebastian and Anna Magdalena Bach revealed themselves as a cultural power couple. Although Anna Magdalena gave up her successful public singing career, she joined her husband in running a thriving music business, alongside looking after a large and growing family. We have at least two tangible traces of their married life in the form of two Notenbüchlein from 1722 and 1725.

Whereas the first Notenbüchlein was still a sort of notebook, containing things like early versions of five ‘French Suites’ (and who knows what else, as two-thirds of the pages are missing), the second one was definitely intended as a gift from Johann Sebastian to his wife. In fair copy, he notated two Partitas and all sorts of other music of Anna Magdalena’s own choosing, such as the aria from the Goldberg Variations and the song Dir, dir Jehova, BWV 452, as well as music by composers like Couperin and Bach’s stepson Carl Philipp Emanuel. Together, the Notenbüchlein form a colourful mix of arias, chorales and suites.


BWV
508

title
Bist du bei mir

genre
song

series
Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach

Year
1722-1725

City
Köthen/Leipzig

Special notes
Not by Bach, but by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel.

Cast & Crew

release date 2 November 2018
recording date 12 May 2018
location Bartolotti House, Amsterdam
tenor Charles Daniels
organ Menno van Delft
theorbo Fred Jacobs
Director, camera and lights Gijs Besseling
Music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
Music edit and mix Guido Tichelman
Camera, lights Nina Badoux
Camera and lighting assistant Eline Eestermans
Interview Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
Producer concert Marco Meijdam
Producer film Jessie Verbrugh

Vocal Texts

Original

Bist du bei mir, geh' ich mit Freuden
zum Sterben und zu meiner Ruh'.
Ach, wie vergnügt wär' so mein Ende,
es drückten deine lieben schönen Hände
mir die getreuen Augen zu!

Translation

Be thou with me and I’ll go gladly
To death and on to my repose.
Ah, how my end would bring contentment,
If, pressing with thy hands so lovely,
Thou wouldst my faithful eyes then close.

Translation: Z. Philip Ambrose

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