The Music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

December 2010
354 pages
6x9 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580463591
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, MUS006000, MUS050000

The Music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

David Schulenberg

The first book in nearly a century dedicated to a close examination of the musical works of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, first son of Johann Sebastian Bach.
The first-born of the four composer sons of Johann Sebastian Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann was often considered the most brilliant. Yet he left relatively few works and died in obscurity. This monograph, the first on the composer in nearly a century, identifies the unique features of Friedemann's music that make it worth studying and performing. It considers how Friedemann's training and upbringing differed from those of his brothers, leading to a style that diverged from that of his contemporaries.
Central to the book are detailed discussions of all Friedemann's extant works: the virtuoso sonatas and concertos for keyboard instruments, the extraordinary chamber compositions (especially for flute), and the hitherto-neglected vocal music, including sacred cantatas and a remarkable work in honor of King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Special sections consider performance questions unique to Friedemann's music and provide a handy list of his works and their sources. Numerous musical examples provide glimpses of many little-known compositions, including a concerto ignored by previous students of Friedemann's music, here restored to his list of works.

David Schulenberg, Professor of Music at Wagner College in New York City, has performed much of W. F. Bach's output on harpsichord, clavichord, and fortepiano. His previous writings include The Keyboard Music of J. S. Bach and The Instrumental Music of C. P. E. Bach.


Fascinating . . . Attractively produced . . . Numerous musical excerpts help promote not only an understanding of the chief features of W. F. Bach's personal style but also, by making frequent comparisons with works by JS Bach, CPE Bach, JG Graun, Telemann and others, illuminate the common ground and differences between the music of these 18th-century masters. EARLY MUSIC [Nigel Springthorpe] A kind of missionary venture, which [Schulenberg] fulfills with admirable success. . . . Refreshing in the self-conscious avoidance of evolutionary narratives. . . . A great step-or indeed jump-forward in the reception of Friedemann's music. Written in a thoroughly enjoyable, elegant style, and illustrated with copious music examples, it carries the reader away. FONTES ARTIS MUSICAE [Balazs Mikusi]

A precious book, enriched with numerous musical examples. REVUE DE MUSICOLOGIE [Marc Vignal]

Schulenberg, a respected early-music keyboard performer and [J. S.] Bach scholar, discusses Wilhelm Friedemann's extant works in detail, providing insightful analyses, useful notes on performance, and a lengthy works list. This book will be a welcome source for Bach research. Summing Up: Highly recommended. ***[ Three stars.] Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. CHOICE [D. Arnold]

Comprehensiveness, thoroughness, and coherency. . . One admires the pragmatism and objectivity [and the] elegance and clarity of expression. AD PARNASSUM: A JOURNAL OF EIGHTEENTH- AND NINETEENTH-CENTURY INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC [Tanya Kovacevic]

Impressive . . . [is] the whole-hearted use it makes of internet possibilities to provide not only much of the missing material in full score but also the ability to hear it. . . . Reveal[s] the full extent of WF's vocal and choral writing . . . [and suggests] that such music was intended for performance with a single singer on each line. . . . Gathers together some pertinent observations on performance. BRITISH CLAVICHORD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER [Christopher Hogwood]

[A] most intricate and scholarly account about a composer whose life and works remain tantalizing mystery. STRINGENDO, Volume 33, Nr 2, October 2011

Schulenberg has a grasp of music's grammar not often met with in current musicology [.] There is something touching about Friedemann's originalities [.] Here one can fancy him swerving away from previous composers. MUSICAL TIMES, Autumn 2011

Also by Author

Also in Series