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The Great Composers Podcast - a classical music podcast

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Nov 23, 2018

In Ep. 25, The Lives of Some Other Bachs, pt. 2 "Wilhelm Friedemann, The Golden Child" we explore the life of Sebastian Bach's eldest son, Friedemann (1710-1784). While he was alive, Sebastian did everything he could to support Friedemann's career. He wrote music for him, gave him instruction manuals, and even wrote at least one job application letter. For a time, it seemed that Friedemann's life was generally headed in the right direction. He was comfortably employed and his fame as a performer and composer was growing. But once the Great Bach died, his golden child took a turn for the worse and what promised to be a prosperous life slowly unraveled. Extraordinary talent—maybe even genius—was not enough to keep Friedemann from alienating himself from his peers and making enemies at every stop along his progress. Though neither were capable of realizing it, the love and affection Sebastian showered on his beloved Friedemann proved to be a fatal gift.

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Music heard in this episode is by Wilhelm Friedemann unless otherwise noted.

1. Sinfonia in d minor F. 65, complete

2. Prelude no. 1 in C major, WTC book 1

3. "Erbarme dich, mein Gott" (Have mercy, my God) from The St. Mathew Passion BWV 244, by JS Bach

4. Organ Sonata BWV 525, by JS Bach

5. Prelude (fugue sold separately) in G major BWV 541, by JS Bach

6. Polonaise in E-flat for harpsichord F. 12 no. 5 (Sylvia Kind)

7. Polonaise in d minor for harpsichord F. 12 no. 4 (Sylvia Kind)

8. Duo for two violas in G major, F. 60 mvt. 2 "Lamento" played by me and one of my students


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A complete bibliography for all episodes can be found on my website: