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Published in Fluting and Dancing: Articles and Reminiscences for Betty Bang Mather on Her 65th Birthday, ed. David Lasocki (New York: McGinnis & Marx, 1992). Copyright (c) 1992 McGinnis & Marx Music Publishers. Used by permission.


The six flute duets of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784) are among the finest examples of this genre from the eighteenth century. That they are still not as well known as they deserve to be may stem partly from the problems with the editions that have been available until recently. The question of when these duets were composed has never been completely answered, largely because the sources present a confusing picture. In his classic biography of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1913), Martin Falck remarked that Bach is known to have composed pieces for the flute in Berlin (or, in other words, during the last decade of his life) but it was not known whether the duets belonged to those pieces. From a consideration of the autograph manuscripts he did conclude that one of the duets was composed in Berlin and that another was presumably also composed there. But the best he could offer about the four others is that two of them were written in a youthful hand and two more in a hand "not of old age." The purpose of the present article is to examine all the sources of Bach's duets and to determine the works' dates of composition more exactly.