Personalities | Wilhelm Friedemann Bach | Classical Era | Classical

(Vil’-helm Fre’-da-man Bakh) 1710–84
German composer

The eldest son of J. S. Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann sadly did not have the opportunities to establish himself as a gifted musician that his brothers found. He studied with his father and at Leipzig University, was organist at the Dresden Sophienkirche and, from 1746, at the Liebfrauenkirche in Halle. In the 1760s, however, he embarked on a precarious freelance career, which eventually took him to Berlin.

W. F. Bach composed church cantatas, keyboard, chamber and orchestral music, more conservative in style than that of his siblings, but still showing striking originality in his melodic lines, his harmony and his counterpoint: his keyboard polonaises in particular contain music of remarkable intensity. However, the disturbed circumstances of his life meant that his gifts were never quite fully realized.

Recommended Recording:
Sinfonias, Kammerorchester C. P. E. Bach (dir) Hartmut Haenchen (Brilliant Classics)

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