Monday, April 21, 2008

Brachvogel's Freidemann Bach

Last year, I suggested that I would try to get at the heart of why J.S. Bach's eldest son, W.F. Bach, didn't get much respect these days despite his being acknowledged as the finest composer of the sons of Bach.

Well, it seems there's more to this than Bach fils wrapping fish in ol' Vater's cantatas! Turns out Albert Emil Brachvogel wrote a book entitled Friedemann Bach that traces the travails, and yes, my friends, the loves, of our dashing organist and Kapellmeister!

Now I have to say, it's a bit of a potboiler, but I would say that this little novel has had more to do with Bach's problems than just about anything else.

Don't take my word for it though- read it yourself. What's that? You dont read German? Well, that's OK, because I'm going to translate the thing and serialize it, right here on the Transcontintental!

One caveat - It will get done, but it will take me some time. Here's to hoping it is enjoyed, and that in getting it out in English, we can begin to examine the like of W.F. Bach in a new light.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting to read about the biographical novel about Friedemann Bach. I had never heard of it. -- According to there has been an English translation: "Friedemann Bach; or, The Fortunes of an Idealist" (Publ: Tinsley, 1875). But tell me, is the novel useful for understanding Friedemann Bach, or just fantasy? I can read German.

Andrew W. said...

Sorry for taking so long to reply, I have been away from the blog for a while.

I think my post attempts to answer your question. As you suggest, the novel is fantasy, but it's fantasy that I think managed to find a foothold in reality, that how scholars and musicians "feel" about W.F. Bach has been affected by Brachvogel's work.

I think the project at hand is to attempt to untangle them. I was also aware of the English translation, but it seems to be abridged, and very difficult to locate! Anyway, I appreciate the comment and I hope this makes sense.

Yvonne Kendall said...

Brachvogel did get the gist: Friede (as his father called him) did have trouble keeping a job; his music was considered a bit revolutionary, his brother Emanuel did try to help him. But Brachvogel reversed the chronology of Friede's career having him quit his job in Halle and then talking that decision over with his father. In reality, his father had been dead 14 years or so before Friede walked off the job. Also, he never became an impoverished actor, as the book/film show. He stayed a fairly impoverished musician throughout his life.