Though Carl Philipp Emmanuel is widely regarded as the most
important of J. S. Bach's sons, three others gained musical prominence during
the early Classical period and still retain a certain degree of respect in
modern times as important musical figures of the later 18th century.
Among them is Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, Bach's ninth son and second from
his marriage to Anna Magdalena. So as to avoid confusion with other members of
the Bach family, he is often referred to simply as "Friedrich" or the
"Bückeburg" Bach because of his long tenure there. Born on June 21, 1732 in
Leipzig, he was given his first music lessons from his eminent father, but also
received tutoring from his father's cousin, Johann Elias Bach. He attended the
St. Thomas School, and later briefly studied law at the University of Leipzig.
Under his father's supervision, Friedrich became keyboard virtuoso, making
music a far more rewarding career path to the young lad than law.
In 1750, the same year as his father's death, Friedrich was
offered the position of harpsichordist, in the service of Count Wilhelm of
Schaumberg-Lippe, at the Bückeburg court. Nine years later, he would be
elevated to Konzertmeister. Though a respected performer, Friedrich's efforts
as a composer seem to have been somewhat overlooked. The arrival of the poet
and philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder at the Bückeburg court in 1771,
however, sparked a creative period in Friedrich's compositional efforts, and
the two collaborated on several vocal compositions, including Michaels Sieg and Die Kindheit Jesu.
In 1778, Friedrich took a leave of absence from his post
and, with his son, travelled to London to visit his brother Johann Christoph.
While in London, he was exposed to the music of Mozart and the burgeoning
Classical style. After his return to Bückeburg, the music he heard in London
served as an influence in his later works. Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach died
on January 26, 1795.
As a composer, Friedrich Bach is regarded today as a
transitional figure between the late Baroque and Classical styles, occupying a
position alongside his brother Carl Philipp Emmanuel and Georg Philipp
Telemann. His early works, like those of his famous brother, show the influence
of his father's teachings. The Italianate tastes of Count Wilhelm forced
Friedrich Bach to assimilate the characteristics of that style into his own
music, and thus his middle period works fall into the galant style. As
mentioned earlier, his later works show a progression towards the maturing
Classical style, influenced by the music of Haydn and Mozart. Regretfully, much of Friedrich Bach's music, which starting in 1917 was
kept at the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung
(State Institute for Music Research) in Berlin was destroyed during World War
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