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C. P. E. Bach


Born: 8 March 1714, Weimar
Died: 14 December 1788, Hamburg
Type of Music: Baroque-Classical; concerto, symphony, chamber, oratorio, song and keyboard.
Influenced by: J.S Bach, Telemann, Stamitz
Contemporaries: John Stanley, Niccolò Jomelli, Gluck, Johann Wenzel Stamitz, Antonio Soler, Gaetano Pugnani, Haydn, Francois Gossec.


1714 Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach is born in Weimar on 8 March.
1717 Bach family moves to Kothen, where Carl Philipp Emanuel's father, Johann Sebastian, becomes Court Capellmeister to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Kothen. C. P. E. Bach attends the Latin school.
1720 C. P. E. Bach's mother, Maria Barbara, dies in July.
1721 Johann Sebastian Bach marries Anna Magdalena Wilcke on 3 December.
1723 Bach family moves to Leipzig, where Johann Sebastian becomes music director and Cantor at the Thomaskirche.
1731 C. P. E. Bach matriculates as a law student at the University of Leipzig on 1 October.
1733 Applies unsuccessfully for Benedict Friedrich Theile's position as organist at the Wenzelskirche in Naumburg on 19 August.
1734 Matriculates at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder on 9 September.
1738 Enters the service of the Crown Prince of Prussia, who acceeds to the throne as King Frederick the Great in 1740.
1742 Publication of Prussian Sonatas.
1744 C. P. E. Bach marries Johanna Maria Dannemann at the beginning of the year. Publication of Wurttemberg Sonatas.
1745 Bach's son Johann August is baptized on 10 December.
1747 Bach's daughter, Anna Carolina Philippina, is born on 4 September.
1748 Bach's son Johann Sebastian is baptized on 26 September.
1750 Bach's father dies on 28 July. He applies unsuccessfully for his father's position later in the year.
1753 The first part of Bach's Versuch is published. He applies unsuccessfully for the post of Cantor at the Johanneskirche in Zittau.
1756 Beginning of the Seven Years War.
1758 Publication of Gellert-Lieder.
1760 Publication of Reprisen-Sonaten.
1761 Publication of Fortsetzung.
1762 The second part of Bach's Versuch is published.
1763 Publication of Zweyte Fortsetzung.
1766 1766 Publication of Leichte.
1767 In November Bach is appointed to Georg Philipp Telemann's post as music director of the five main churches in Hamburg.
1768 Bach family arrives in Hamburg in March.
1772 Charles Burney visits Bach in September. Publication of Sei Concerti.
1773 In June Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock announces plans to publish his Die deutsche Gelehrtenrepublik on his own. In the same month Bach writes to Johann Gottlob Immanuel Breitkopf about publishing settings of forty-two psalm translations by Johann Andreas Cramer and an oratorio, Israeliten. The former are published in June of 1774 and the latter in September of 1775, both following the plan announced by Klopstock.
1776 Publication of Accompanied Sonatas I in August.
1777 Publication of Accompanied Sonatas III in September.
1778 Bach's son Johann Sebastian dies in Rome on 11 September.
1779 Publication of Heilig and Kenner I in July.
1780 Bach sells the rights and remaining stock of his Versuch to Engelhardt Benjamin Schwickert. Schwickert also publishes Bach's Orchester-Sinfonien. Publication of Kenner II in October.
1781 Bach's half-sister Elisabeth Juliana Friderica Altnickol, whom he had provided with a regular stipend for at least a decade, dies on 24 August. Bach continued the stipend for Elisabeth Juliana's son-in-law, Ernst Friedrich Ahlefeldt. Publication of Kenner III in October.
1783 Publication of Kenner IV in September.
1784 Publication of Morgengesang in September. Publication of the first volume of Bach's edition of his father's chorales. Three additional volumes appeared in 1785, 1786, and 1787, respectively.
1785 Publication of Kenner V in October.
1786 Nils Schierring publishes Bach's Litaneyen
1787 Bach's correspondence with Johann Jacob Heinrich Westphal begins. Publication of Auferstehung in February and Kenner VI in June.
1788 C. P. E. Bach dies on 14 December.

Adapted from Stephen L. Clark. "The Letters of CPE Bach". Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the third son of Johann Sebastian. Having been his father's pupil and assistant, he studied law before turning to music. The flute playing Crown Prince of Prussia hired him as keyboard player, and, on becoming King Frederick the Great in 1740, appointed him as chamber musician to the court at Berlin. He remained there for the next twenty-eight years, composing a vast amount of varied music. He also wrote Essay on the True Art of Keyboard Playing, one of the most informative testimonies on how music was performed in the eighteenth century. In 1767, he succeeded his godfather, Georg Philipp Telemann, as music director of Hamburg's five main churches. Here he remained till his death.

C. P. E. Bach's importance rest mainly on his pioneering of the sonata-symphony, the impact of which reached down the centuries, from those of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven to Brahms and Elgar. Instead of the musically disconnected, separate movements, or suites, until then fashionable, his works contrast different moods and develop the thematic material in certain ways, heightening the drama in the music. His music is eminently endearing: full of quirky, angular themes that swoop in unexpectantly, virile, bustling allegros and pensive, yearning movements of surprising candour. There are exacting passages for the soloist in his concertos, witty and exuberant and far more interesting than the made - to measure work of his brother Johann Christian, the 'English' Bach.1

His last keyboard works focuses on three genres important to empfindsamer stil - the sonata, the rondo and the fantasia.2

1 Nicholas, Jeremy. "The Classic FM guide to classical music. The essential companion to composers and their music." Pavillion Books Limited, 1997: 57-58.

2 Zaslaw, Neal ed. "The classical era. From the 1740s to the end of the 18th century". London: Macmillan Press: 1989: 250.

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