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Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel (the “Berlin”Or “Hamburg” Bach)

univ march musical art

Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel (the “Berlin”Or “Hamburg” Bach), third (and second surviving) son of Johann Sebastian; b. Weimar, March 8, 1714; d. Hamburg, Dec. 14, 1788. He was educated under his father’s tuition at the Thomasschule in Leipzig, then studied jurisprudence at the Univ. of Leipzig and at the Univ. of Frankfurt-an- der-Oder. Turning to music as his chief vocation, he went to Berlin in 1738, and in 1740 he was confirmed as chamber musician to Frederick the Great of Prussia. In that capacity he arranged his father’s visit to Potsdam. In March 1768 he assumed the post of cantor at the Johanneum (the Lateinschule) in Hamburg, and also served as music director for the five major churches. He held these posts until his death. Abandoning the strict polyphonic style of composition of his great father, he became an adept of the new school of piano writing, a master of “Empfindsamkeit” (“intimate expressiveness”), the North German counterpart of the French Rococo. His Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen …(two parts, 1753–62; re-ed. by Schelling, 1857; new, but incomplete, ed. by W. Niemann, 1906) became a very influential work which yielded much authentic information about musical practices of the second half of the 18 th century. An Eng. tr. of the Versuch…, entitled Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments, was publ. by W. Mitchell (N.Y., 1949). His autobiography was reprinted by W. Kahl in Selbstbiographien deutscher Musiker des XVIII. Jahrhunderts (Cologne, 1948); an Eng. tr. was made by W. Newman, “Emanuel Bach’s Autobiography,” Musical Quarterly (April 1965). His compositions are voluminous (see E. Helm, Thematic Catalogue of the Works of C.P.E. B., New Haven, 1989). E. Suchalla ed. C.P.E. B.: Briefe und Dokumente: Kritische Gesamtausgabe (two vols., Göttingen, 1994), and S. Clark tr. and ed. The Letters of C.P.E. B. (Oxford, 1997).

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