Wilhelmine von Bayreuth was the elder sister of Anna Amalia and Frederick II, and she joined their secret study of music. Although her marriage to the Margrave Frederick of Bayreuth was arranged, her husband shared her passion for culture and the arts. Inspired by Versailles, the couple transformed Bayreuth into a European intellectual centre, brimming with rococo architecture, by founding a university and constructing opera houses and theatres—though they nearly went bankrupt in the process.
In addition to playing several instruments, including the flute, Wilhelmine composed music, painted, created works for the stage, corresponded with prominent intellectuals such as Voltaire, and served as a Prussian diplomat in Austria during the Seven Years’ War. She employed many musicians and composers at her court, including Anna Bon. Because she didn’t receive formal musical training until later in life, her compositions contain several intriguing qualities that might have been discouraged had she received instruction earlier. The musical affects and motifs in her Flute Sonata in A minor are quite capricious, particularly in the first and third movements. Rhythm and phrasing are extremely fluid: phrase length is often irregular, and there are delightful hidden metre changes near the end of the second movement.