Haydn, Mozart, & Beethoven: Studies in the Music of the Classical Period

By Sieghard Brandenburg | Go to book overview

2
The Sextet in C Major, by J. C. or J. C. F Bach?

STEPHEN ROE

A sextet in C major, scored for the somewhat unusual combination of oboe, violin, two horns, cello, and keyboard, has been a subject of debate for over seventy years between writers claiming the work either for Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach or for his younger brother Johann Christian. Schünemann included it among the works of the former1 and published it in the first modern edition.2 The case for J. C. F. Bach was supported by Karl Geiringer, who described it as 'the climax of Friedrich's production in the field of chamber music';3 by Hannsdiether Wohlfarth,4 and also by Beth Anna Mekota in her study of the keyboard works of J. C. Bach.5 The flag for J. C. Bach as author was carried by C. S. Terry,6 by Stanley Sadie in his edition of the work based on the first London edition,7 and by subsequent writers.8 It has been recorded on at least two occasions with an attribution to the one or the other and is listed without qualification in the work-lists of both men in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. The aim of this essay is to assess critically the sources, to examine the claims of both composers to this work and, with the aid of new evidence, to settle the dispute once and for all.

Johann Christian Bach had been in England for over fifteen years when J. C. F. Bach came to visit him in London in 1778, bringing with him his

____________________
1
G. Schünemann, Thematisches Verzeichnis der Werke von Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach ( Denkmäler Deutscher Tonkunst, lvi; Leipzig, 1917), p. xvi.
2
ed. G. Schünemann ( Leipzig: C. F. W. Siegel's Musikalienhandlung, 1920).
3
The Bach Family ( London, 1954), 392.
4
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach ( Berne and Munich, 1971), 222.
5
"'The Solo and Ensemble Keyboard Works of Johann Christian Bach'", diss. ( University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1969).
6
John Christian Bach ( London, 1929; 2nd edn., 1967, rev. H. C. Robbins Landon, reissued 1980).
7
( London, 1968).
8
See for example Stephen Roe, The Keyboard Music of J. C. Bach ( New York, 1989), 88-90.

-13-

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