June is a month with so many composers deserving of our attention that the choice was driven by the instruments so prominently displayed in our Facing South Exhibit, so this month we feature one of four sons of Johann Sebastian Bach to attain renown in classical music, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach. He had to “compete” for the top spot this month with Henry Tudor, better known as Henry VIII, who among his many accomplishments–a poet, fencer of some skill, and archer, he loved jousting, wrestling, hawking, and singing; he played several instruments and had quite a collection of musical instruments, but he did not, as some critics have said, write “Greensleeves”.
Johann Christoph was born in Leipzig on the 21st of June in 1732. To clear up matters about the large Bach family and his position within it, Friedrich was the third oldest of the four sons of J.S. Bach and his second wife Anna Magdalena Bach. Taught music by his father and his uncle, Johann Elias Bach, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach was, not surprisingly, a keyboard virtuoso and very much at home in composing for the voice: liturgical pieces, motets, operas and songs. No doubt his marriage to a singer influenced this aspect of his work. Known as the “Bückeburg” Bach, because he served at the court there from 1750, when he was just 18, until his death in 1795. His early music reflected the style of his father, while his mature compositions began showing Italian influences, offering a sort of cross between the German and Italian schools. He composed twenty-two symphonies, the latter ones influenced by Mozart and Haydn. You can be sure that his brothers also will show up in the birthday list in future months.