Image for The First Son of a Genius

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The First Son of a Genius

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Monday 18 February 2013

Introducing the music of J.S. Bach's first - and most notoriously wayward - son.

--

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784) was the first son of arguably the greatest composer who ever lived, JS Bach. How could he ever live up to his father?

Indeed, in the decades after his death, Friedemann Bach gained a notorious reputation as the "black sheep Bach" - a man who had frittered away the vast talent and opportunities that had come his way. Remembered by contemporaries as a difficult, arrogant man, he ended his life in abject poverty, never enjoying the success, or critical acclaim of JS Bach's other sons, Carl Phillip Emmanuel and Johann Christian - both now regarded as great composers in their own right.

And yet...Friedemann Bach's surviving music is arguably more fascinating and original than any of the Bach sons. Though barely 100 works remain, they're full of raw expressive sweeps, strange, bittersweet lyricism and with a naked, mercurial quality that prefigures the tormented artist-creators of the Romantic Era.

This week, Donald Macleod allows us a rare glimpse at W.F. Bach's life and legacy, in conversation with the Bach scholar David Schulenberg - featuring a number of Friedemann Bach's concerti, flute duets, cantatas and compositions for solo keyboard. They unpick what makes "the black sheep" of the Bach family so intriguing - both musically and historically - and unpeel the layers of anecdote, misinformation and outright lies that have affected Friedemann Bach's reputation for nearly three centuries.

Music Played

16 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:02

    Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Sonata in A Minor, Fk.8 - I. Poco Allegro

    Performer: Christophe Rousset (harpsichord)

    HARMONIA MUNDI;HM901305

  • Image for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:10

    Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Concerto for Keyboard, Strings and Continuo in E Minor, Fk.43- III. Allegro Assai

    Performers:Michael Behringer (fortepiano), Freiburg Baroque Orchestra

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:17

    Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Klavierbüchlein für W.F. Bach - Prelude in C, BWV 924a

    Performer: Wolfgang Rubsam (piano)

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:18

    Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Klavierbüchlein für W.F. Bach - Prelude in D, BWV 925

    Performer: Wolfgang Rubsam (piano)

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:20

    Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Klavierbüchlein für W.F. Bach - Allemande, BWV 836

    Performer: Wolfgang Rubsam (piano)

  • Image for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:26

    Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Fantasia in D Minor, Fk.19

    Performer: Friedhelm Flamme (organ)

    CPO:7775272, 1

  • Image for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:35

    Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Keyboard Sonata no.1, Fk 3

    Performer: Charlotte Mattax Moersch (harpsichord)

    CENTAUR:CRC 2351

  • Image for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:47

    Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Duet for two Flutes no.1 in E Minor, Fk.54

    Performers: Barthold Kuijken, Marc Hantai (flutes)

    ACCENT: ACCC9057D

  • Image for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:02

    Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Sonata in A Minor, Fk.8 - I. Poco Allegro

    Performer: Christophe Rousset (harpsichord)

    HARMONIA MUNDI;HM901305

  • Image for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:09

    Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Concerto for Keyboard, Strings and Continuo in E Minor, Fk.43- III. Allegro Assai

    Performers:Michael Behringer (fortepiano), Freiburg Baroque Orchestra

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:17

    Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Klavierbüchlein für W.F. Bach - Prelude in C, BWV 924a

    Performer: Wolfgang Rubsam (piano)

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:18

    Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Klavierbüchlein für W.F. Bach - Prelude in D, BWV 925

    Performer: Wolfgang Rubsam (piano)

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:19

    Johann Sebastian Bach & Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Klavierbüchlein für W.F. Bach - Allemande, BWV 836

    Performer: Wolfgang Rubsam (piano)

  • Image for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:26

    Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Fantasia in D Minor, Fk.19

    Performer: Friedhelm Flamme (organ)

    CPO:7775272, 1

  • Image for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:35

    Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Keyboard Sonata no.1, Fk 3

    Performer: Charlotte Mattax Moersch (harpsichord)

    CENTAUR:CRC 2351

  • Image for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    00:47

    Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Duet for two Flutes no.1 in E Minor, Fk.54

    Performers: Barthold Kuijken, Marc Hantai (flutes)

    ACCENT: ACCC9057D

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