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Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

(1714 - 1788)

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (March 8, 1714 - December 14, 1788) was a German musician and composer; and the second of five sons of Johann Sebastian Bach and his frist wife, Maria Barbara Bach. He is considered to be one of the founders of the Classical style, composing in the Rococo and Classical periods.

When he was ten years old he entered the St. Thomas School at Leipzig, where his father had been appointed cantor in 1723, and continued his education as a student of jurisprudence at the universities of Leipzig (1731) and of Frankfurt (Oder) (1735). In 1738, at the age of 24, he took his degree, but at once abandoned his prospects of a legal career and determined to devote himself to music.

A few months later, on the recommendation of Sylvius Leopold Weiss, he obtained an appointment in the service of the Frederick II of Prussia (known as "Frederick the Great"), the then crown prince, and upon Frederick's accession to King in 1740, Carl Philipp became a member of the royal orchestra. He was by this time heralded as one of the foremost clavier-players in Europe, and his compositions, which date from 1731, include about thirty sonatas and concert pieces for harpsichord and clavichord.

In Berlin he continued to write numerous musical pieces for solo keyboard, including a series of character pieces – the so-called "Berlin Portraits" including La Caroline.

His reputation was established by the two sets of sonatas which he dedicated respectively to Frederick the Great and to the grand duke of Württemberg; in 1746 he was promoted to the post of chamber musician, and for twenty-two years shared with Carl Heinrich Graun, Johann Joachim Quantz, and Johann Gottlieb Naumann the continued favour of the king.

During his residence in Berlin, he wrote a fine setting of the Magnificat (1749), in which he shows more traces than usual of his father's influence; an Easter cantata (1756); several symphonies and concerted works; at least three volumes of songs; and a few secular cantatas and other occasional pieces. But his main work was concentrated on the clavier, for which he composed, at this time, nearly two hundred sonatas and other solos, including the set Mit veränderten Reprisen (1760-1768) and a few of those für Kenner und Liebhaber. Meanwhile he placed himself in the forefront of European critics by his Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen, a systematic and masterly treatise which by 1780 had reached its third edition, and which laid the foundation for the methods of Muzio Clementi and Johann Baptist Cramer.

In 1768 Bach succeeded Georg Philipp Telemann as Kapellmeister at Hamburg, and in consequence of his new office began to turn his attention more towards church music. The next year he produced his oratorio Die Israeliten in der Wüste, a composition remarkable not only for its great beauty but for the resemblance of its plan to that of Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah, and between 1769 and 1788 added over twenty settings of the Passion, and some seventy cantatas, litanies, motets, and other liturgical pieces. At the same time, his genius for instrumental composition was further stimulated by the career of Franz Joseph Haydn. He died in Hamburg on December 14, 1788.

Recommended Recordings

Magnificat (1749)

Newport Classics 60155
Magnificat, Wq. 215/London Jubilee 421148-2
Palmer, Watts, Tear, Roberts, Philip Ledger/Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Academy of St. Martin-In-The-Fields
Magnificat, Wq. 215 with Magnificat by J.C. Bach/Capriccio 67003
Elisabeth Scholl, Gotthold Schwarz, Michael Schneider/La Stagione Frankfurt
Magnificat, Wq. 215 with Magnificat BWV 243 by J.S. Bach/Newport Classics 60155
Patricia Green (mezzo soprano), Mary Ellen Callahan (soprano), James Weaver (bass), Nils Brown (tenor), J. Reilly Lewis/Washington Bach Consort



Concerto in A for Cello, Wq. 172

Virgin Classics Veritas VBD561794-2
Cello Concerto, Wq. 172 & 4 Symphonies, Wq. 183/Harmonia Mundi HMU907403
Alison McGillivray (cello), Andrew Manze/The English Concert
3 Concertos, Wq. 170-172 with Symphonies/Virgin Classics Veritas VBD561794-2
Anner Bylsma (cello), Gustav Leonhardt/Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment
3 Concertos, Wq. 170-172/Naxos 8.553298
Tim Hugh (cello), Richard Studt/Bournemouth Sinfonietta





Concertos for Flute

Philips Duo 442592-2
5 Concertos, Wq. 166-169 with Oboe Concertos/Philips Duo 442592-2
Aurèle Nicolet (flute), David Zinman/Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
6 Concertos, Wq. 165-169, Wq. 22/Naxos 8.555715-16
Patrick Gallois (flute), Kevin Mallon/Toronto Camerata
3 Concertos, Wq. 22, 166 & 168/Capriccio 10104
Eckart Haupt (flute), Hartmut Haenchen/Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra
2 Concertos, Wq. 167 & 169/Capriccio 10105
Eckart Haupt (flute), Hartmut Haenchen/Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra

Concerto for 2 Keyboards

Teldec Apex 256461137-2
Concerto, Wq. 46/Archiv 471579-2
Léon Berben (harpsichord), Robert Hill (fortepiano), Reinhard Goebel/Musica Antiqua Köln
Concerto, Wq. 46/Teldec Apex 256461137-2
Anneke Uittenbosch (harpsichord), Jean Antonietti (fortepiano), Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Concentus Musicus Wein
Concerto, Wq. 46/Archiv 419256-2
Andreas Staier & Robert Hill (harpsichords), Reinhard Goebel/Musica Antiqua Köln







Concertos for Oboe

Capriccio 10069
2 Concertos, Wq. 164 & 165 with Flute Concertos/Philips Duo 442592-2
Aurèle Nicolet (flute), David Zinman/Netherlands Chamber Orchestra
2 Concertos, Wq. 164 & 165/Capriccio 10069
Burkhardt Glaetzner (oboe), Max Pommer/New Bach Collegium Musicum, Leipzig











Sonatas for Flute & Continuo

Naxos 8.550513
5 Sonatas, Wq. 83-87/Naxos 8.550513
Zsuzsa Pertis (flute), Béla Drahos (harpsichord)
3 Sonatas, Wq. 83, 84, 161 #2, etc./Channel Classics CCS0790
Wilbert Hazelzet (flute), Jacques Ogg (fortepiano)
4 Sonatas, Wq. 83-86/Denon 33C37-7807
Andras Adorjan (flute), Huguette Dreyfus (harpsichord)
6 Trio Sonatas, Wq. 124, 127-129, 133 & 134/Capriccio 10101
Eckart Haupt (flute), Siegfried Pank (viola da gamba), Armin Thalheim (harpsichord)

Core Repertoire - Start Here! Sonatas for Keyboard

Etcetera KTC1011
6 "Prussian" Sonatas, Wq. 48/Etcetera KTC1011
Anneke Uittenbosch (Harpsichord)
18 Sonatas, 13 Rondos & 6 Fantasias, Wq. 55-60/CPO 999100-2
Gabor Antalffy (harpsichord & fortepiano)
6 "Prussian" Sonatas, Wq. 48 & 6 "Wurrtemberg" Sonatas, Wq. 49/Teldec Das Alte Werk 9031-77623-2
Robert van Asperen (Harpsichord)
6 Sonatas & 6 Sonatinas, Wq. 63/L'Oiseau-Lyre 444162-2
Christopher Hogwood (Harpsichord)

Core Repertoire - Start Here! Symphonies

Harmonia Mundi 907403
6 Symphonies, Wq. 182/Naxos 8.553285
Christian Benda/Capella Istropolitana
4 "Hamburg" Symphonies, Wq. 183 & Cello Concerto/Harmonia Mundi HMU907403 or SACD HMU807403
Andrew Manze/The English Concert
4 "Hamburg" Symphonies, Wq. 183 & Wq. 182 #5/Virgin Classics Veritas VBD561794-2
Gustav Leonhardt/Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment
4 "Hamburg" Symphonies, Wq. 183/Capriccio 10175
Hartmut Haenchen/Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra
5 "Berlin" Symphonies, Wq. 174, 175, 178, 179 & 181/Capriccio 10103 or Berlin Classics 0010962BC
Hartmut Haenchen/Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra
6 Symphonies, Wq. 182/L'Oiseau-Lyre 417124-2 or 455715-2 with Symphonies Wq. 183
Christopher Hogwood/Academy Of Ancient Music
Trumpet