Wilhelm Friedemann Bach @ RISM

Martina Falletta

Monday, December 6, 2010

Misjudged, underappreciated, a failure, enfant terrible, the most abused composer: Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784) has been characterized again and again by these attributes. His 300th birthday has been celebrated in recent months in a variety of ways.

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The Bach Museum in Leipzig presented the exhibition “Wilhelm Friedemann Bach - Der hochbegabte, wunderliche Liebling des Vaters” (“Wilhelm Friedemann Bach - The Gifted, Wondrous Father’s Favorite”) from September 10-December 5.

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The theme of an international academic conference was “Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and the Protestant Church Cantata after 1750” on 7-8 June in the Handel House in Halle and 19-20 November 2010 in the Bach Archive in Leipzig.

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A new biographical study by Ulrich Kahmann, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach: Der unterschätzte Sohn (Wilhelm Friedemann Bach: The Underappreciated Son) (Bielefeld: Aisthesis Verlag, 2010), presents the oldest Bach son as a driven man, for whom it is difficult to loosen himself from his overpowering father and search for his place in music somewhere between baroque and classical.

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David Schulenberg has also written a book called The Music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (University of Rochester Press, 2010) in which he discusses every extant Wilhelm Friedemann work, considers aspects of performance practice, and lists manuscript sources.

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The second volume of the Bach-Repertorium series is dedicated to works by Wilhelm Friedemann. This volume will be published in December 2010 by Carus Verlag in Stuttgart. Especially eagerly awaited is the catalogue of works that it will contain.

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Carus Verlag has also, since 2009, been publishing the complete works of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach under the direction of Peter Wollny.

RISM’s various publication series record numerous works by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.

Recueil impremés du XVIIIe siècle (RISM B/II, 1964) features the following six printed collections by the eldest Bach son:

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Apollo. Et musikalsk Maanedsskrivt for Sang og Klaveer af forskellige Componister. Forste Første-siette Aargang. [1.-6. Jg.], København: Sören Sonnichsen [1795-1800]

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Blumenkranz dem neuen Jahrhundert geflochten. Eine Liedersammlung, Berlin [1800]

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Musicalisches Magazin in Sonaten, Sinfonien, Trios und andern Stücken für das Clavier bestehend, Leipzig, B. C. Breitkopf & Sohn 1765

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Musikalische Nebelstunden, Rinteln: A. H. Bösendahl 1787

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Musikalisches Mancherley, Berlin: G. L. Winter 1762-1763

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Musikalisches Journal, Berlin: Günther 1800

Six documents in Series A/I Einzeldrucke bis 1800 (Individual Prints to 1800) only mention instrumental works by Wilhelm Friedemann (including Fk 3, 5, 12). In one case, he also acts as the publisher for his father Johann Sebastian’s “Sechs Choräle von verschiedener Art auf einer Orgel mit 2. Clavieren und Pedal vorzuspielen.”

The 330 entries in the online catalogue from Series A/II also show a clear emphasis on the transmission of the instrumental works of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. A catalogue of these source documents in pdf format offers additional indexes (text and title, name, watermarks, library sigla, call numbers, literature).

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