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Sibling Rivalries in Classical Music

We're keeping it all in the family this week on Ether Game!

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Photo: Public Domain

Which Bach is the best Bach?

What are some of the biggest sibling rivalries in classical music? Ether Game has the answer, as we keep it all in the family:

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was not the only child prodigy in his family. His sister Maria Anna Mozart, who went by the nickname Nannerl, a harpsichordist, was considered by their father as “one of the most skillful players in all of Europe.”
  • Like Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn had a talented sister, Fanny Mendelssohn, who was a composer herself. Fanny Mendelssohn was much more accomplished than Nannerl Mozart. She wrote over 400 works, and helped Felix with some of his.
  • The many sons of Johann Sebastian Bach worked all over Europe: Wilhelm Friedrich Bach worked in Dresden, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach flourished in Berlin, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach performed in Bückeberg, and Johann Christian Bach found fame in London.
  • The Strauss Family formed a mini musical dynasty in Vienna in the late 19th century. Along with the patriarch, Johann I, there was also Johann Strauss II (“The Waltz King”), Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss. Josef was a polymath—a scientist, inventor, and mathematician—and only went into the family business reluctantly.
  • Henry Purcell had a brother who capitalized on his fame: Daniel Purcell. Daniel tried to continue his brother’s legacy after Henry passed away, although it’s thought that Daniel might have actually been Henry’s cousin!
  • Like Purcell, Franz Joseph Haydn paved the path for his younger brother Michael Haydn. Both brothers were boy sopranos (Michael possibly more skilled than Joseph). While, Joseph made it big in secular music working for the Esterhazy’s, Michael pursued a career based more in sacred music.
  • The Kuijken brothers of Belgium have become the premiere interpreters of 18th century music in the 20th and 21st centuries: Barthold Kuijken on Baroque tranverse flute, Wieland Kuijken on Baroque cello and viola da gamba, and Sigiswald Kuijken on Baroque violin.
  • And in the world of pop… the Everly Brothers are the classic example of the perfect blend of sibling harmony (see also: The Andrews Sisters, The McGuire Sisters, The Boswell Sisters, The Beach Boys, The Mills Brothers, etc.). Although in 1973, the brothers broke up (the band, not the family)!

See the full playlist below:

And don’t forget to check out our Brotherly Podcast from this week!

Music Heard On This Episode

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