Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

Dr. Bob Prescribes Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

Weimar On July 14, 1708, the newly appointed court organist Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and his wife Maria Barbara Bach (1684-1720) arrived in the Thuringian (central German) city of Weimar from Bach’s previous post in the Thuringian city of Mühlhausen.  The young couple moved into an apartment in a house owned by another employee of the court, Adam Immanuel Weldig, who was master of the pages and a falsettist (a non-surgical male soprano) in the chorus of the court chapel.  (Coincidentally, this same Adam Weldig was an alum of the St. Thomas School in Leipzig, where Bach would be the master of music for the last 27 years of his life, from 1723 to 1750). Whatever else its amenities, Weldig’s house had location in spades.  It was located at number 5 Markt, on Weimar’s Markplatz (market square), which had been the city’s most important public space since around 1300.  From there, it was just a five-minute walk to the Ducal palace (the Wilhelmsburg), where both Bach and Weldig worked.  It was at the Weldig house that Bach’s first child, Catharina Dorothea, was born on December 29, 1708, and where his second child – Wilhelm Friedemann – was born on November […]

Continue Reading

Music History Monday: The Wayward Bach, His Wayward Daughter, and the Bachs of Oklahoma

We mark the death on August 1, 1784 – 238 years ago today – of the German composer and organist Wilhelm Friedemann Bach in Berlin at the age of 73.  Born in the central German city of Weimar on November 22, 1710, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, who from here on we will refer to as Friedemann Bach, was the second child and first son of Johann Sebastian Bach (who from this point forward we will refer to as Sebastian Bach). Friedemann Bach was a gifted musician, the equal (in my opinion) to his more famous brothers Carl Philip Emanual and Johann Christian Bach.  But unlike his brothers, Friedemann harbored personal demons that poisoned his relationships with others and led to his financial ruin later in his life.  We’ll discuss these issues in detail in tomorrow’s Dr. Bob Prescribes post, as well as the singular disaster Friedemann’s poverty eventually wrought, when he chose to the sell off so many of his father’s precious musical manuscripts, which were then lost for all time. For the remainder of this post, we’re going to shift our focus to Friedemann Bach’s only surviving child, his daughter Friederica Sophia, who was born in the Saxon city of […]

Continue Reading