Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, classical music composer

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Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach


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 II.

Composer Title Date Action
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach Sonata in A Major for piano four hands 02/09/2012 Play Add to playlist