The ignored Bach

Bach blog

W.T.F. Bach (A4, ink on Hahnemühle bamboo paper, 2015)

Nearly half a century ago, musical satirist Peter Schickele created the figure of P.D.Q. Bach and thereby launched a career performing the works of this ‘lost’ member of the Bach family.

I wouldn’t describe W.T.F. Bach as ‘lost’ – he never left Leipzig so he could hardly be lost – so much as ignored. His early form of 12-bar Delta blues simply wasn’t welcome in Prince Leopold’s eighteenth century court. It wasn’t really until the 1960s that his music began to be played, often falsely attributed to figures such as Mississippi Fred Macdowell or Elmore James or arranged by young rock bands without any attribution at all.

That, I’m afraid, is the downside of being ahead of your time.

This post demonstrates how much I miss Richard Thompson, cartoonist and illustrator, who died earlier this year. I never knew him, but the world was a better place for his presence. 

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10 thoughts on “The ignored Bach

  1. Dear Michael, I love this new drawing of yours, many thanks for sending it! Frankly, the text is beyond me. I expect you mean Wilhelm Friedmann Bach; if you do, what do you mean by “12-bar Delta blues”? And how could his music be attributed to US musicians’?  Apparently, I am not quite with you here… All best wishes, Bálint

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you like the drawing, Bálint, but don’t worry about the text which is a rather silly joke. “WTF” is textspeak for “What the F—?” and I thought the initials sounded right for a lost son of J S Bach. The rest of it is based on the sort of story told by illustrator Richard Thompson in his series, Richard’s Poor Alamanac, where he would make up something surreal and anachronistic as an excuse for a drawing. Given that many rock musicians in the 1960s appropriated the work of black blues singers as their own, I thought it would be funny if they themselves had stolen it from a forgotten son of one of the world’s greatest composers. It seemed quite funny when I was thinking it all up but now sounds rather contrived!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. P.D.Q. must have been the father to W.T.F.. I’ve been a P.D.Q. fan since we played his work in high school concert band. “The Seasonings” is wonderfully stupid (“Sesame Mucho”? ridiculous!)

    Liked by 2 people

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