Frederick II, King of Prussia [Friedrich II; Frederick the Great]
- E. Eugene Helm
- and Derek McCulloch
(b Berlin, Jan 24, 1712; d Potsdam, Aug 17, 1786). German monarch, patron of the arts, flautist and composer. His father, Friedrich Wilhelm I, was alarmed at his son’s early preference for intellectual and artistic pursuits over the military and religious. In spite of being supervised day and night and in the face of his father’s rages and corporal punishments, Frederick managed, partly through the complicity of his mother and his older sister Wilhelmina, to read forbidden books, to affect French dress and manners and to play flute duets with his servant. As a seven-year-old he was permitted to study thoroughbass and four-part composition with the cathedral organist Gottlieb Hayne. Wilhelmina, also musically talented, joined him in impromptu concerts. On a visit to Dresden in ...