Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

1714 - 1788

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (8 March 1714 – 14 December 1788), was a German Classical period musician and composer, the fifth child and second (surviving) son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. His second name was given in honor of his godfather Georg Philipp Telemann, a friend of Johann Sebastian Bach.

C. P. E. Bach was an influential composer working at a time of transition between his father's baroque style and the classical and romantic styles that followed it. His personal approach, an expressive and often turbulent one known as empfindsamer Stil or 'sensitive style', applied the principles of rhetoric and drama to musical structures. Bach's dynamism stands in deliberate contrast to the more mannered galant style also then in vogue

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, (born March 8, 1714, Weimar, Saxe-Weimar [Germany]—died Dec. 14, 1788, Hamburg), second surviving son of J.S. and Maria Barbara Bach, and the leading composer of the early Classical period.

A precocious musician who remained successful, C.P.E. Bach was his father’s true successor and an important figure in his own right. In his autobiography he writes: “For composition and keyboard-playing, I have never had any teacher other than my father.” He studied law, taking his degree at Frankfurt in 1735, although he probably never had any intention of a career other than music.

In 1740 he was appointed harpsichordist to Frederick II of Prussia. Frederick was a good flutist and so fond of music that he had his court orchestra accompany him in concerti every night except Mondays and Fridays, which were opera nights. The subservience that he required from his distinguished harpsichordist grew irksome, but it was not until 1767 that Bach was able to resign his Berlin post to take up an appointment as music director at Hamburg. Meanwhile, he had married (1744), published his Versuch über die wahre Art das Klavier zu spielen (1753, rev. ed. 1787; Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments), and acquired an enviable reputation, as a composer, performer, and teacher.

Unlike his elder brother Wilhelm Friedemann, C.P.E. Bach was successful in assimilating the powerful influence of their father and in making the transition into the new style then evolving. This represented a break with the past such as has occurred in very few other periods of musical development. The monumental character of Baroque music gave way to a mercurial Romanticism, for which the favourite contemporary description was “sensitivity” (Empfindsamkeit). Bach became a leader of that movement but retained the advantage of a solid craftsmanship and assurance for which he always gave full credit to his father’s teaching and example.

Key Works

Flute Concertos & Sonatas

1. Flute Concerto in A major Wq 168 H 438
2. Flute Concerto in D minor, Wq  22 H  425
3. Flute Concerto in a minor Wq 166; H431
4. Flute Sonata WQ 134
5. Concerto for Flute Traverse in G major, Wq  169
6. Harp Sonata in G Major, Wq  139

Concertos for Transverse Flute

Berlin Symphonies

1. Symphony for 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings & continuo in E flat major, H. 654, Wq. 179  0:00
2. Symphony for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings & continuo in F major, H. 656, Wq. 181  11:17
3. Symphony for 2 flutes, 2 horns, strings & continuo, H. 649, Wq. 174  22:14
4. Symphony for 2 flutes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, strings & continuo in F major, H. 650, Wq. 175  31:19
5. Symphony for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings & continuo in E minor, H. 653, Wq. 178  41:39

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1733)

C.P.E. Bach’s many compositions include religious music (e.g., a Magnificat, 22 Passions), symphonies, concerti (for flute, harpsichord, piano, harpsichord and piano, organ, oboe), organ sonatas, chamber music, and songs. The music of his Berlin period is comparatively old-fashioned, because of the preferences of his royal employer. In Hamburg he developed a more adventurous vein and did as much as anyone to open up future musical styles. Particularly influential were his symphonies, concerti, and keyboard sonatas in the evolution of classical sonata-allegro form. His influence on Joseph Haydn, W.A. Mozart, and even Ludwig van Beethoven was freely acknowledged, and it is interesting that, having influenced Haydn, Bach later allowed himself to be influenced by the younger composer, just as Haydn later influenced and was influenced by Mozart.
As a performer, Bach was famous for the precision of his playing, for the beauty of his touch, and for the intensity of his emotion. “He grew so animated and possessed,” wrote Charles Burney (Present State of Music in Germany…, 1773), “that he looked like one inspired. His eyes were fixed, his underlip fell, and drops of effervescence distilled from his countenance.”

The influence of C.P.E. Bach’s Essay on Keyboard Instruments was unsurpassed for two generations. Haydn called it “the school of schools.” Mozart said, “He is the father, we are the children.” Beethoven, when teaching the young Karl Czerny, wrote, “be sure of procuring Emanuel Bach’s treatise.” It is, indeed, one of the essential sourcebooks for understanding the style and interpretation of 18th-century music. It is comprehensive on thorough bass, on ornaments and fingering, and is an authentic guide to many other refinements of 18th-century performance.

Keyboard Works

Six Hamburg Symphonies, Wq. 182

Prussian Sonatas Wq 48

Württemberg Sonatas Wq 49

1. Sonata No. 1 in A minor  0:00
2. Sonata No. 2 in A flat major  14:59
3. Sonata No. 3 in E minor  28:31
4. Sonata No. 4 in B flat major  41:26
5. Sonata No. 5 in E flat major  56:19
6. Sonata No. 6 in B minor  1:09:58

Sonatas for Fortepiano and Clavichord, 5 CD 5

1. Sonata in B flat major, Wq. 59/2  0:00
2. Rondo in C minor Wq. 59/2   13:43
3. Fantasia in F major Wq. 59/5  18:25
4. Fantasia in C major Wq. 59/6  23:03
5. Rondo in E flat major Wq. 61/1  31:15
6. Sonata in D major Wq. 61/1  36:33
7. Fantasia in B flat major Wq. 61/1  42:20
8. Rondo in D minor Wq. 61/2    48:28
9. Sonata in E minor, Wq. 61/2   52:44
10. Fantasia in C major, Wq. 61/2  1:00:25

"Frederick the Great's Flute Concert in Sanssouci "(detail) by Adolph von Menzel, 1852, depicts Frederick the Great playing the flute as C. P. E. Bach accompanies on the keyboard. 

MAGNIFICAT - Wq215 (1749)

00:11 Magnificat anima mea Dominum ----- Coro   
03:31 Quia respexit humilitatem ----- Aria (soprano)  
09:32 Quia fecit mihi magna  ----- Aria (tenor)  
14:00 Et misericordia eius ----- Coro
18:37 Fecit potentiam in bracchio suo ----- Aria (bass)   
23:09 Deposuit potentes de sede ----- Duett (alto, tenor)  
30:04 Suscepit Israel puerum suum ----- Aria (alto) 
35:03 Gloria Patri et Filio ----- Coro
37:06 Sicut erat in principio ----- Coro

Die Israeliten in der Wüste, oratorio in 2 parti per soli, coro e orchestra H. 775 (1768-1769)

Carl Philipp Emanuel son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach; he became the most celebrated and influential composer among the Bach sons. When the family moved to Leipzig in 1723, he enrolled in the Thomasschule, where his father was in charge of the musical curriculum. Like his elder brother Wilhelm Friedemann (1710— 84), he entered the University of Leipzig as a law student after graduating from the Thomasschule, although he continued to live at home and work as his father’s chief musical assistant. The pull of music was strong, as was an early friendship with the crown prince of Prussia, who was to become King Frederick II—Frederick the Great. Emanuel spent nearly 30 years in Berlin at the monarch’s court, and became the principal exponent of the Empfindsamer Stil, or “Sensibility Style,” a highly original and expressive idiom that served as an important link between the Baroque and Classical styles. He also wrote the most important musical treatise of the 18th century, Versuch iiber die wahre Art dm Clavier zu spielen (Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments). Today he is mostly known through his chamber and keyboard music and for the flute concertos he wrote to please the king, who was particularly enamored of the flute.

Six Spiritual Songs - Geistliche Oden, W 194

1) Über die Finsterniss kurz vor dem Tode Jesu (On The Darkness Shortly Before Jesus' Death) Wq. 197, No. 29
2) Prüfung am Abend (Reflections In The Evening) - WQ. 194, No. 7 2:19
3) Trost der Erlösung  (Consolation Of Redemption) - Wq. 194, No. 30 6:28
4) Paßionslied - Erforsche mich, erfahr mein Herz (Passion Song - Search within me, inspect my heart) - Wq. 194, No. 14 8:16
5) Abendlied - Herr, der du mir das Leben (Evening Song - Lord, you have given me my life) - Wq.194, No. 32 13:53
6) Bußlied  (Song Of Penance) Wq. 194, No. 46 16:08

«Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu» Oratorium Wq 240 1778

Oboe Concerto in E flat major. Wq165

5 Flute sonatas

Heilig ist Gott - Ariette und Kantata, 1776

Flötenkonzert Friedrichs des Großen in Sanssouci ("Frederick the Great's Flute Concert in Sanssouci") by Adolph von Menzel, 1852, depicts Frederick the Great playing the flute as C. P. E. Bach accompanies on the keyboard.
The audience includes Bach's colleagues as well as nobles.

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