Music: Books & Manuscripts

Music: Books & Manuscripts

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 16. W. F. Bach, Early scribal manuscript of the Fugue in C Minor for keyboard, Fk 32, late C18th.

W. F. Bach, Early scribal manuscript of the Fugue in C Minor for keyboard, Fk 32, late C18th

Lot Closed

June 8, 01:16 PM GMT


3,000 - 5,000 GBP

Lot Details


Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann

Early scribal manuscript of the Fugue in C minor for keyboard, Fk 32

notated in brown ink on up to eight two-stave systems per page, possibly in the hand of Samuel Hering, title at the head of the music ("Fuga a 3. di W. F. Bach"), the right hand in the soprano clef, additional title on the otherwise blank first page in a later hand, probably that of Friedrich Chrysander ("Fuga in C [flat] u[nd] 8 Fugen v. F.W.Bach")

3 pages, 4to (35.5 x 22cm), 16 hand-drawn staves, no watermark visible, no place or date [late eighteenth-century], browned, a little staining

This would appear to be a new source for the Fugue in C minor, Fk 32.

Wilhelm Friedemann (1710-1784) was the oldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach and his wife Maria Barbara and, with his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel, was charged with organising the Bach estate after his father’s death in 1750. Whereas Emanuel led a comparatively ordered life with steady long-held posts in Berlin and Hamburg, Friedemann’s career was more troubled. He had difficulty holding down jobs and his life was dogged by disappointments and failure. There is evidence to suggest that his father regarded him highly as a musician and it is no accident that W. F. Bach turned often to the form his father seems to have prized most: the fugue.

W. F. Bach published eight such works in Berlin in 1778, but this fugue in C minor was not among them and remained unpublished. The reference to the other fugues on the title-page of this manuscript probably relates to the publication, but the print does not survive here. Falck (p. 91) draws attention to the similarity of the subject of the Fugue in C minor to Pergolesi’s "Fac ut portem", from his Stabat mater, a work beloved of Johann Sebastian Bach and almost certainly known to Wilhelm Friedemann. There are also some superficial resemblances between the subject and the "royal" theme from J. S. Bach’s Das musikalische Opfer. J. S. Bach’s version of the Pergolesi and The Musical Offering both date from around 1747 and it is likely that this fugue was also composed around this time. The copy, possibly by Hering, was made some years afterwards, probably between 1760 and 1780.

Sotheby’s is grateful to Dr. Stephen Roe in the preparation of this catalogue entry.