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Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach


He was born on March 8, 1714.1)


Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was Johann Sebastian and Maria Barbara Bach's (Sebastian's first wife) second surviving son.2)


Aside from his father, Emanuel never had a music teacher. There is no indication that he studied any other instrument save the piano.3)

Law Degree

Emanuel studied law from 1731 and 1738, first at the University of Leipzig and subsequently at the University of Frankfurt a der Oder.4)


Emanuel supported himself while studying at the University of Frankfurt a der Oder by offering piano lessons and composing for or directing public performances and events. Emanuel's composing career took off during his time at university.5)


He was appointed harpsichordist to Frederick II of Prussia, an outstanding flutist, in 1740, and remained as court accompanist for over 30 years. Despite the fact that the accompanist frequently had to double as a soloist, instructor, coach, Kapellmeister, composer, and arranger, Emanuel was the court's lowest-paid musician.6)

Georg Philipp Telemann

Emanuel's godfather was Georg Philipp Telemann, Kantor and director of music in Hamburg, Germany.7)

Grandfather's Death

Telemann died in 1767, and Emanuel left the court of Frederick II in early 1768 to take up Telemann's job.8)

Sensitive Style

Emanuel was the most famous composer of the empfindsamer Stil, which translates as “tender style”. It is distinguished by sudden shifts in mood, as well as melodies and rhythms fashioned after speech. The style was mostly connected with solo keyboard compositions, especially for clavichord and early fortepiano. These instruments, unlike the harpsichord, could make delicate changes in tone and dynamics.9)

Essay On The True Art Of Playing

One of the most important works on the subject is Emanuel's Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments.10)


Beethoven's teacher before moving to Vienna, Neefe, frequently employed Emanuel's pieces and his Essay while instructing the young Beethoven.11)


Emanuel Bach was the most productive of the Bach sons. With the exception of opera, he composed in every genre. His composer output includes symphonies, concerti, chamber music, songs, church music, and solo keyboard pieces, with the latter being fundamental to his career.12)


While his work is not widely recognized today, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was an important figure in the creation of classical music. His symphonies, concerti, and keyboard sonatas influenced the development of the sonata-allegro form. Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, regarded as the “Big Three” composers of the Classical era, all mentioned Emanuel as an inspiration.13)

300th Birthday Celebration

To commemorate C.P.E. Bach's 300th birthday, the six German Bach cities, Hamburg, Potsdam, Berlin, Frankfurt (Oder), Leipzig, and Weimar, held a variety of performances and celebrations.14)

carl_philipp_emanuel_bach.txt · Last modified: 2022/02/28 23:42 by eziothekilla34