1902 Encyclopedia > Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
German composer

KARL PHILIPP EMMANUEL BACH (alternate spelling: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach), second son of [Johann Sebastian Bach], was born at Weimar on the 24th March 1714, and died at Hamburg on the 14th September 1788. He was perhaps the most highly gifted musician of the eleven brothers, and his influence on the development of certain musical forms gives him a prominent place in the history of the art.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach image

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

He studied at the Thomasschule and afterwards at the university of Leipsic [Leipzig], devoting himself, like several of his brothers, to jurisprudence. In 1738 he took up his residence in Berlin, where he was soon afterwards appointed chamber musician to Frederick the Great.

In 1767 he was allowed, after considerable negotiation, to relinquish his situation at court in order to accent the post of Kapellmeister at Hamburg, where he passed the last twenty-one years of his life.

He was a very prolific composer, his most ambitious work being the oratorio of composer, his most ambitious work being the oratorio of The Israelities in the Wilderness. The majority of his compositions, howver, were naturally written for his instrument, the clavier. His Versuch über die wahre Art das Klavier zu spielen (Essay on the true method of harpsichord plying) was long a standard work, and Clementio professed to have derived from Bach his distinctive style of pianoforte playing.

Haydn is said to have acknowledged in his old age his deep obligation to the work of Philipp Emmanuel Bach. From them he certainly learned the form of the sonata and symphony, of which Bach may fairly claim to have been the originator, though Haydn enriched it and gave it permanence.

This fact gives Bach’s name a distinction to which the intrinsic merits of his compositions might not entitle him. It being now generally agreed by the best critics that he was a somewhat feeble imitator of his father’s style. (--)

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