Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

German Composer and Musicologist (Weimar, 1714 - Hamburg, 1788)

Third son of the great Johann Sebastian and nicknamed the Berlin Bach or the Hamburg Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach is considered to be one of the masters of what is called the Empfindsamkeit, a galant style that flourished during the second part of the 18th century.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach first began his musical studies in Leipzig with his father and then pursued law before returning to music. He was appointed as a keyboard player in the orchestra of the Crown Prince of Russia, the future Frederick the Great. He endeared himself to the court alongside the Graun brothers and Johann Joachim Quantz. He quickly revealed himself as a master of instrumental music and especially as a clavier player. He was influential in the development of the concerto form and and repertoire for the newly emerging piano. His instrument of choice was the clavichord.

He was appointed as the Director of Music of the Prussian Court in Hamburg and was involved in many prestigious musical events. It was in Hamburg that he heard Handel's Messiah, the credo from his father's B-minor Mass and Haydn's Stabat Mater. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach wrote numerous instrumental works (clavier pieces, chamber music, concertos...) as well as the oratorios Die Israeliten in der Wüste and Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu, twenty two passions, cantatas, lieder etc. 

While he was initially influenced by the contrapuntal style of his father his works adopted the fashion of the time, largely influenced by the Italian style and laid the foundations of the classical style. His music was admired by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. 

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the only son of J. S. Bach to have enjoyed a successful career: his music was widely performed during his lifetime, he remains a great and respected master of his craft. 

Six Landmark Dates in the Life of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach:

1738  He was appointed as a harpsichordist in the Orchestra of the Crown Prince of Prussia
1750  Upon the death of his father, he came in possession of a large catalogue of his works together with his family musical archives
 • 1753  Published his essay on the art of playing keyboard instruments, now a fundamental guide to the interpretation of 18th century music
 • 1767  Was appointed Musical Director of Hamburg and cantor at the Latin College Joanneum and five of the city's most important churches in succession to his godfather, Georg Philipp Telemann
 • 1925  His grave was discovered by Bach's biographer Heinrich Miesner, in the vault of St Michael's Church in Hamburg. 

Six Key Works by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach 

• Prussian Sonatas (1742)
• Württemberg Sonatas (1744)
• Magnificat (1749)
• 6 symphonies for Strings dedicated to Baron Van Swieten (1773)
• Odes and lieder for Voice and Keyboard Accompaniment
• oratorio 'The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus' (1788)