In 1721 a 20-year-old soprano employed at the princely court in Köthen married the court's Kapellmeister, set to become the greatest composer of the age. As his second wife she married into a young family with four children, and a busy household filled with music. The music book that Johann Sebastian Bach presented to his new wife Anna Magdalena in 1722, and replaced more lavishly in 1725, treats us to a tantalizing glimpse inside this unique family, allowing us to sit beside Bach as a composer, teacher, husband and father. Over the years, these notebooks became a place for the family to share instructional exercises, favorite pieces – by Bach and other composers – to play or sing, early composition efforts from the children, and first versions of some of Bach's more ambitious keyboard works.
What is usually presented as ‘the' Anna Magdalena Notebook is a set of excerpts from the 1725 collection. The scholarship that informed the New Bach Edition in 1957 has been greatly developed and expanded since then.