Wilhelm Friedemann (Weimar, 1710; Berlin, 1784): The eldest and the most gifted son of JS Bach. He was a very talented musician. His life was marred by instability, he died poor and embittered. He inherited from his father a fondness for counterpoint. He combined counterpoint and galant characteristics. In his best known keyboard works written before 1768, he brought Polonaise to an artistic perfection. His music represents the Empfindsamkeit style of North Germany. They also show signs of his turbulent nature and looks forward to the sturm and drang period.
Carl Philipp Emanuel (Weimar, 1714; Hamburg, 1788): He held a position in the court of Frederick the Great. He was a notable keyboard player and a prolific composer. He was one of the originators of sonata form. Mozart knew and admired him. He spent the last 21 years of his life in Hamburg. He represented the North German form of Empfindsamkeit style in his music as a reaction against the stricter, old style of his predecessors. His keyboard music is characterized by certain unusual features. These are surprising harmonic shifts, bold modulations (like sudden shifts to three degrees flat side), emotional outbursts in the middle of a conventional framework, varied textures and most importantly contrasting traits presented side by side. Restlessness is juxtaposed with calm, virtuosity with simplicity. He had a direct influence on Haydn and Beethoven as keyboard writers. Most of his concertos are in minor keys. In several of his later concertos, as in his symphonies, the movements follow without a break and sometimes, material from one movement recurs in another. CPE Bach wrote 18 symphonies and in them he represents a musical parallel to the great Sturm and Drung literary figures. In emotional intensity and in his subjective approach he had a powerful influence on the next generation of symphony composers (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven). With his concern for word-setting and independent accompaniment in his song collection (1745), he anticipated the Schubertian Lieder.
Johann Christian (Leipzig, 1735; London, 1782): The youngest son. He is known as the English Bach. Like Handel he settled in London after a visit to Italy (Milan, studied opera). He wrote operas, symphonies and harpsichord pieces. Mozart played with him during his visit to London and was deeply influenced by his style. In JC Bach, the Bach family ability was maintained. As the youngest son, he avoided the Baroque influence and training in Italy made his style more accessible and agreeable. His keyboard music is a fine example of the galant style. Pleasing tunefulness, simple harmonies, two-part textures, regular four-bar phrases and cadences are notable. His greatest gift was melody, perhaps unlike his half-brother CPE Bach, and his second subjects and slow movements are the most characteristic and successful part of his music.