Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784)

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Episodes

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01The First Son Of A Genius20130218

Donald Macleod introduces the music of Bach's eldest - and most notoriously wayward - son.

Introducing the music of J.S. Bach's first - and most notoriously wayward - son.

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Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784) was the first son of arguably the greatest composer who ever lived, JS Bach. How could he ever live up to his father?

Indeed, in the decades after his death, Friedemann Bach gained a notorious reputation as the "black sheep Bach" - a man who had frittered away the vast talent and opportunities that had come his way. Remembered by contemporaries as a difficult, arrogant man, he ended his life in abject poverty, never enjoying the success, or critical acclaim of JS Bach's other sons, Carl Phillip Emmanuel and Johann Christian - both now regarded as great composers in their own right.

And yet...Friedemann Bach's surviving music is arguably more fascinating and original than any of the Bach sons. Though barely 100 works remain, they're full of raw expressive sweeps, strange, bittersweet lyricism and with a naked, mercurial quality that prefigures the tormented artist-creators of the Romantic Era.

This week, Donald Macleod allows us a rare glimpse at W.F. Bach's life and legacy, in conversation with the Bach scholar David Schulenberg - featuring a number of Friedemann Bach's concerti, flute duets, cantatas and compositions for solo keyboard. They unpick what makes "the black sheep" of the Bach family so intriguing - both musically and historically - and unpeel the layers of anecdote, misinformation and outright lies that have affected Friedemann Bach's reputation for nearly three centuries.

02Escape To Dresden20130219

Donald Macleod discusses WF Bach's attempts to flee his father's reputation.

Friedemann Bach attempts to flee his father's reputation and assert his own musical gifts - by moving to Dresden.

03Halle: Cantatas And Quarrels20130220

Donald Macleod on how WF Bach's move to Halle saw his quarrelsome nature prove difficult.

04Tremble And Fall20130221

Donald Macleod describes how WF Bach's difficult character made him enemies in Halle.

05 LASTThe 'black Sheep Bach'20130222

Donald Macleod discusses WF Bach's final decline and the legend of the 'black sheep Bach'.