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Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann -

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Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784) was the eldest, and by common repute the most gifted son, of J.S. Bach; a famous organist, a famous improvisor, and a complete master of counterpoint.



Unlike the rest of the family, he was a man of idle and dissolute habits, whose career was little more than a series of wasted opportunities. Born in Weimar and educated at Leipzig, he was appointed in 1733 organist of St. Sophia's Church at Dresden, and in 1746 became organist of the Liebfrauenkirche at Halle; his father's influence was enough to secure him the latter position without the usual trial performance.



With his father's death in 1750, the stabilizing influence in Friedemann's life seems to have disappeared, and he lived an unhappy life in Halle, from which he frequently traveled to seek other employment. In 1762, he was offered the post of Kapellmeister to the court of Darmstadt, but for some reason he did not accept the position. Two years later, in 1764, he walked off the job in Halle, ending his employment there and indeed his formal employment anywhere. Thenceforward he led a wandering life until he died in great poverty at Berlin, aged 74.



His compositions, very few of which were printed, include many church cantatas and instrumental works, of which the most notable are the fugues, polonaises and fantasias for clavier, and an interesting sextet for strings, clarinet and horns. Several of his manuscripts are preserved in the Royal Library at Berlin; and a complete list of his works, so far as they are known, may be found in Eitner's Quellen Lexikon.



A commonly-used numbering system is that of Martin Falck, who published a catalog of Friedemann's music in 1913. For example, F. 12 stands for the celebrated "Twelve Polonaises" that were completed by 1765.



Additionally, Friedemann along with his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach provided important information to Johann Nikolaus Forkel, the first biographer of J.S. Bach. The biographical information supplied by Friedemann and Emanuel was utilized in the biography of Sebastian that Forkel published in 1802. However, unlike Emanuel, Friedemann was an exceedingly poor custodian of Sebastian's music, much of which he, like Emanuel, inherited on their father's death. Not only did a good deal of Friedemann's share of this music disappear unaccountably, but in some cases he is known to have claimed credit for music written by his father (such as the Organ Concerto, BWV 596; because Friedemann wrote his own name on Sebastian's autograph score, it was mistakenly attributed to Friedemann when it was first published in the 19th century).
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Total 8 Compositions
Notes
Series: one-movement compositions, Theme: Spring
Orchestration: Organ, Difficulty: easy to medium
Notes
Series: Chamber Music, Theme: Christmas/Advent
Orchestration: Trombone 2+Trumpet 2, Difficulty: easy to medium
Notes
Series: one-movement compositions, Theme: Easter/Passiontide
Orchestration: Organ, Difficulty: easy to medium
Notes
Series: one-movement compositions, Theme: Easter/Passiontide
Orchestration: Organ, Difficulty: easy to medium
Notes
Series: one-movement compositions, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Piano, Difficulty: medium to hard
Notes
Series: Chamber Music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Flute 2, Difficulty: easy to medium
Notes
Series: one-movement compositions, Theme: Easter/Passiontide
Orchestration: Organ, Difficulty: easy to medium
Notes
Series: 6 Sonatas for 2 flutes, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Flute 2, Difficulty: medium
Total 8 Compositions