Like Father, Like Son

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children, easily making him the most prolific composer-dad in music history. With Father's Day just around the corner, we want to know which of J.S. Bach's composer sons made him the most proud. You compared their prolific careers, decided on Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and we played one of his symphonies today at 12 noon.


Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (Listen to his Sinfonia in E-flat

  • Highest opus number: 875
  • Recordings in Arkivmusic: 386
  • Years Lived: 74
  • Top recognition: court of Frederick the Great in Berlin for 30 years
  • Types of work: keyboard, concertos, sonatinas, chamber music, wind and string sonatas, trio sonatas, symphonies, solo voice, choral

Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (Listen to his Keyboard Concerto in A)

  • Highest opus number: 19
  • Recordings in Arkivmusic: 40
  • Years Lived: 62
  • Top post: court musician in Bückeburg
  • Types of work: orchestral, chamber, keyboard, oratorios, sacred cantatas, arias, songs

Wilhelm Friedemann BachWilhelm Friedemann Bach (Listen to his Suite in G)

  • Highest opus number: 106
  • Recordings in Arkivmusic: 85
  • Years Lived: 73
  • Top post: court musician in Dresden; organist at church in Halle
  • Types of work: keyboard, concertos, chamber, orchestral, church cantatas, sacred, vocal

Johann Christian BachJohann Christian Bach (Listen to his Symphony in D)

  • Highest opus number: 358
  • Recordings in Arkivmusic: 193
  • Years Lived: 46
  • Top recognition: lessons to British royal family, commissions from Mannheim court and Academie Royale de Musique in Paris
  • Types of work: vocal, dramatic, cantatas and serenatas, symphonies, overtures, concertos, wind music, chamber music, keyboard

Comments [14]

Tim Brown from Washington, DC

PDQ! PDQ Bach no question no worries!

Jun. 17 2012 09:22 AM
Pauline Park from Queens

Johann Sebastian was most proud of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, whom he doted on -- in part, perhaps, because WF was his oldest son; but most musicologists would call Carl Philipp Emanuel the greatest of the Bach sons, I'm sure.

Jun. 19 2011 12:00 PM
Katherine Hendry from Manhattan

Surely, I am not the only piano student who worked on C.P.E. Bach's 'Solfegietto' in cminor! It's my "go-to" piece to warm up skipping a few scales! I was just enjoying using it for that purpose last night after my piano tuner left. This Sinfonia affirms my opinion of his music as engaging and joyful. Thanks so much for this lesson!

Jun. 15 2011 12:16 PM
EileenCG from Katonah, NY

Oy...listeners! Get a sense of humor, already! It's not a treatise on parent-children relationships -- it's a light-hearted way of asking a question. Give 'em a break!

Jun. 15 2011 12:01 PM

I agree, why isn't PDQ included?

Jun. 15 2011 11:49 AM
Milton Quiroga Bulman from Concepción, Chile

I vote for Johann Christian Bach

Jun. 15 2011 11:48 AM

You left off P.D.Q. Bach. But since he's not in the running, I'll vote for J.C. Bach.

Jun. 15 2011 11:02 AM
Greg from Long Island from Long Island, NY

As a parent of 3 children I find it dificult to say who I'm most proud of. An unfair question to any parent to be put on the spot. As for the music, I went with WF Bach for his stylish methods.

Jun. 15 2011 10:54 AM
NJ Listener

Excellent, fascinating question! And nice to be given the opportunity to "comparison shop" the sons' music. I'm sure Bach was equally proud of all of his children, BTW....:>)

Jun. 15 2011 10:22 AM
Tom Walsh from Montclair

As Tom and Ray Magliozzi ("The Car Guys") would say: this is sooooo Booogus! Which son is a father most proud of! Come on, guys! Each of Bach's many children are wonderful, in their own right. He had 20 children, 10 of whom reached adulthood. What about the other 6 of his (adult) children? I'm inclined to agree with Michael: the question is somewhat ugly. But, I suppose we're talking music here.

Jun. 15 2011 09:38 AM
Warner from Rockland

Well of those CPE, but without question the real winner is PDQ.

Jun. 15 2011 09:38 AM
Audrey Peard from Alabama

Johann Christian Bach is the one who makes me stop and go, "Who is that?" whenever he is played on the radio. Like his father, I find much of his phrasing just flat beautiful. And quite modern.

Jun. 15 2011 07:16 AM
Maco Man from UES

Wilhelm Friedemann clearly had the best sense of style. He gets my vote.

Jun. 15 2011 05:54 AM
Michael Meltzer

Whoever wrote the question, as to which of Bach's children made him the most proud, is not the parent of more than one child. If you are, it is an ugly question.

Jun. 15 2011 02:02 AM

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