BWV 1020 is spurious, or is it?

( … continuing in my reading of Peter Williams’s Bach A Musical Biography of 2016 …)

I am very fond of Bach’s lovely violin/flute and harpsichord sonata in G minor, admirably written for the harpsichord, which I have played more than once in recitals together with a baroque flautist.

Until the 1950’s BWV1020 was attributed to J.S. Bach, perfectly matching his style. However, later evidence showed that it appeared to be by the young C.P.E. Bach: this was based on manuscripts which included works unmistakably composed by the latter. As such it has been listed for decades now. Already in 1983 Basso in his Frau Musika…Bach dismissed any attempt to attribute the work to J.S. Bach.

Now Peter Williams on p. 399 writes that “could just possibly be a genuine Bach work … or, more likely, it was music by a young and fashionable composer familiar with genuine Bach work …”.

This work has always puzzled me: on one side, the MS evidence seems to be very convincing.
On the other, I know of no work by C.P.E. (or by any other author for that matter) following so strictly (and so marvellously) the old J.S. Bach’s style.

Any opinions?



I don’t know…even before I knew anything about these arguments, I always found that this sonata sounded more like a Bach son (or student) than genuine J.S. Bach.
And also, there’s that weird self-denial thing in C.P.E. Bach’s oeuvre, that he (peculiar, for a left-handed player) wrote so much obnoxiously right-hand-favoring music, and I sort of feel that this sonata falls into the same category. J.S. Bach seems, on average, to have been interested more in an equal division of tasks between the hands, pedagogically and musically.



Indeed, Tilman. Interestingly, one of the few pieces of evidence that I find against J.S. Bach’s authorship is in the very first two bars: two identical initial bars? Strange indeed, where else did old J.S. do that?