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About this Piece

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784 )was the eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, and, as such, received a sterling musical education from a man immersed in the music of his day - Sebastian Bach knew Vivaldi's music well, for example, having arranged five concertos from L'estro armonico for keyboard, and he passed this knowledge on to his children. Friedemann Bach's first official post was as a church organist in Dresden, where he wrote the present Sinfonia, part of a set of five composed between 1735 and 1740. From Dresden, Friedemann Bach moved on to Halle, where he served as the city's music director, a post he resigned in 1764. Unemployed until his death, he eked out an existence performing as an organist, teaching, and selling off his extensive music library, which included both his own and his father's music and much of which is now lost.

The Sinfonia in F major lives up to its German nickname, "Die Dissonanzen," with abundant harmonic surprises. Here, Friedemann Bach writes with the freedom and expressive intensity of his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel's best music. Several commentators point to Jan Dismas Zelenka's orchestral music, with its capricious style, as a model for the Sinfonia's opening and third movements. (Zelenka was one of Friedemann Bach's colleagues in Dresden.) The second-movement Andante centers on a richly worked melody that moves from minor to major, and the concluding movement contrasts the grace of the first Menuetto with the contrapuntal rigor of its counterpart.

John Mangum is the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Program Designer/Annotator.