Prelude in C (early version) for W.F.Bach    J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Sarabande     W. F. Bach (1710-1784)

"For the Beauty of the Earth"


Of J.S. Bach’s 20 children, six survived to adulthood and four became noteworthy composers in their own right. Wilhelm Friedmann Bach was J.S.’s eldest son. His musical instruction was primarily from his father — who wrote for him, when he was ten, the charming "Little Keyboard Book for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach" which includes an early version of J.S.'s celebrated "Prelude in C" (which dad later expanded into the form we know today). Friedmann also studied the violin. When he was 9 his mother died. (When daddy J.S. was 9, both HIS parents died. A strange and sad coincidence between father and son…) Daddy J.S. remarried a couple years later.

Friedemann enrolled as a law student in Leipzig University, a renowned institution at the time, but later moved on to study law and mathematics at the University of Halle. He maintained a lifelong interest in mathematics, and continued to study it privately during his first organ post in Dresden. In 1733, already composing extensively, he was appointed organist to the Church of St. Sophia in Dresden.

At about this time, or perhaps later, after his father’s death in 1750, he seemed to begin to have personality difficulties, evidenced by excessive drinking and other lapses. After marrying at age 41 (his wife was 11 years his junior), he became restless and applied unsuccessfully for a change of post in 1753 and 1758. In 1762 he won an appointment to the Darmstadt court but did not take it up. At 54 he unceremoniously walked away from his job without notice, and for the remaining 20 years of his life sought in vain for regular employment. He became touchy and unreliable, and although his talents were never doubted, he was sure that they were. In 1774 he moved to Berlin, where he lived meagrely by giving recitals and teaching until his death age 74.