Flute Sonata in E major, BWV 1035

The Sonata in E major for flute and basso continuo (BWV 1035) is a sonata for transverse flute and figured bass composed by J. S. Bach in the 1740s. It was written as the result of a visit in 1741 to the court of Frederick the Great in Potsdam, where Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel had been appointed principal harpsichordist to the king the previous year. It was dedicated to Michael Gabriel Fredersdorf, the king's valet and private secretary, who, like the king, was an amateur flautist.[1][2]

Bach in 1746; 1748 portrait by Elias Gottlob Haussmann

Origins and musical structureEdit

The surviving nineteenth-century sources for the sonata carry dedications to Frederick the Great's private secretary, Michael Gabriel Fredersdorf: one of the earliest hand copies of BWV 1035 is annotated "after the autograph by the composer, which was written anno 17--, when he was at Potsdam, for privy chamberlain Fredersdorf." Fredersdorf had been taught to play the flute by his father, a Stadtpfeifer in Frankfurt. He acted as an intermediary with the Dresden flautist-composer Joachim Quantz, who not only composed for Frederick but also gave him lessons and supplied him with instruments. When Frederick became king in 1740, he appointed Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel as the principal court harpsichordist. One and a half year's later in December 1741, Quantz also joined the court where he served as composer and flute teacher until the end of his career. Before that, in the summer of 1741 Bach made his first visit to Berlin, staying near the royal palace on Unter den Linden with his friend Georg Ernst Stahl, a court doctor. As his correspondence with his family in Leipzig shows, on this first visit Bach did not have an official audience with the king, but—in view of the dedication—must have conferred with Fredersdorf.[3][4][5]


  1. Adagio ma non tanto,   E major
  2. Allegro, 2
    E major
  3. Siciliano, 6
    C minor
  4. Allegro assai, 3
    E major

The opening movement, Adagio ma non tanto, contains many expressive and elaborate baroque ornaments including the king's favourite "tierces ornées"—intermediate notes added to a falling third, creating a sighing Affekt. As Oleskiewicz (1999, p. 95) comments, this was probably the only time Bach used ornamentation of this kind.


The alternation of the semidemiquaver melismas with the semiquaver triplet passages along with the passages of coupled semiquaver figures are also typical of Bach's Leipzig style. Likewise the dancelike Allegro in a lively 2
time signature follows the pattern of his Leipzig works, an acquiescence to the galant style so popular at the time. In the slow Siciliano, the opening theme of the flute is taken up in canon a bar later in the bass line. The movement itself is in the key of C minor, but modulates through many keys before returning to the original key. The last Allegro assai also has galant elements, with its binary form—like the second and third movements—and its quirky dancelike rhythms. Both fast movements contain trills and brilliant semiquaver passagework. Eppstein (1972, p. 15, 23) has suggested that BWV 1035 can be considered as a sonata da camera, with the first movement playing the role of a prelude and the subsequent binary movements corresponding to dances. He has proposed that the fast movements correspond to specific dance forms: the second movement to a rigaudon, a French dance appearing for example in the fourth of François Couperin's Concerts Royaux (1722); and the fourth movement to a spritely polonaise. The third slow movement, as indicated in the score, is a siciliano.[3][5][6][7][8]

Arrangements and transcriptionsEdit

  • Transcription in F major for alto recorder and harpsichord, published by Schott,[9] Heinrichshofen's Verlag,[10] Universal[11] and Dowani International (with a practice CD).[12]
  • Transcription in C major for oboe and harpsichord by Gonzalo X. Ruiz, 2005.
  • Arrangement for flute and guitar by Michael Langer, Doblinger, 1997.

Selected recordingsEdit

The sonata was written for transverse flute and continuo, but has been arranged for other instruments (see above). The sonata, and its transposed version in F major for alto recorder, are part of the standard examination repertoire for the ABRSM and other national examining boards.[13]

Figured bass on harpsichord

Figured bass on fortepiano

  • Christopher Krueger, Laura Jeppesen (viola da gamba), John Gibbons (fortepiano), Centaur Records, 1997.
  • Susan Rotholz, Kenneth Cooper (fortepiano), Bridge Records, 2002.

Figured bass on lute

Piano accompaniment

Guitar accompaniment




  1. ^ Marshall 1978, p. 493.
  2. ^ Jones 2013, pp. 363–364.
  3. ^ a b Powell 2002, p. 99.
  4. ^ Wolff 2002, p. 425.
  5. ^ a b Oleskiewicz 1999, p. 95.
  6. ^ Jones 2013, pp. 363–64.
  7. ^ Wolff 1994, p. 263
  8. ^ Wolff 1985
  9. ^ Bach 1954.
  10. ^ Bach 1986.
  11. ^ Bach 1992.
  12. ^ Bach 2006.
  13. ^ The baroque flute in the mid-eighteenth century had only one key and was tuned to baroque pitch, a lower pitch than present concert pitch, in which the modern transverse flute is tuned. The continuo part can be played on one or more instruments. Along with other flute sonatas by Bach, the sonata has entered the standard repertoire used for examination purposes for both flute and recorder in several countries, when it is usually performed with piano accompaniment from an authorised edition using a fixed realisation of the figured bass. For more details see Powell (2002).
  14. ^ Die Flötensonaten = Complete flute sonatas, OCLC 10773875
  15. ^ Die Flötensonaten, OCLC 724993095
  16. ^ Sonata no. 1, in B minor, for piano and flute Sonata no. 6, in E major, for piano and flute , OCLC 49740183
  17. ^ Christopher Steward's early flute recordings: Georges Laurent at Robert Bigio flute pages


Published editions

  • Bach, J. S. (1978), Hans Eppstein (ed.), Flute Sonatas, Volume I (The four authentic Sonatas – with Violoncello part) (PDF) (Urtext ed.), Henle-Verlag, ISMN 979-0-2018-0269-5
  • Bach, J. S. (1992), Barthold Kuijken (ed.), Sonata for Flute and Basso Continuo in E major, BWV 1035, Wiesbaden: Breitkopf
  • Bach, J. S. (2002), Hans-Peter Schmitz; Ulrich Leisinger (eds.), Four Sonatas: BWV 1034–1035 for Flute and Basso continuo. BWV 1030, 1032 for Flute and obbligato Cembalo (Urtext ed.), Bärenreiter
  • Bach, J. S. (1992b), Ute Deussen (ed.), Sonata for Treble Recorder and Basso Continuo in F major, after BWV 1035 (transcription, realisation of figured bass by Siegfried Petrenz), Vienna: Universal Edition, ISBN 978-3-7024-1198-5
  • Bach, J. S. (1954), Dom Gregory Murray (ed.), Sonata for Treble Recorder and Piano or Harpsichord in F major, after BWV 1035, Schott
  • Bach, J. S. (1986), Martin Nitz (ed.), Drei sonaten für Altbockflöte und Basso continuo, BWV 1033–1035, Heinrichshofen's Verlag
  • Bach, J. S. (1954b), Louis Moyse (ed.), Sonatas for flute and piano, Vol. II, G. Schirmer
  • Bach, J. S. (1997), Konrad Hampe (ed.), Sonatas for Flute and Harpsichord (Urtext), C. F. Peters, ISMN 979-0014106645
  • Bach, J. S. (2006), Manfredo Zimmermann (ed.), Sonata for Treble (Alto) Recorder and Basso continuo in F major (based on the Sonata for Flauto Traverso in E major, BWV 1035), Liechtenstein: Dowani International, ISBN 3905477335

Books and journal articles

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit