In Defense of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

25

February
2011

Guy Dammann makes a strong case for Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, who was more famous and influential than his father, Johann Sebastian, during the second half of the 18th Century.

In retrospect, of course, CPE’s reputation has dwindled, dwarfed by that of his father. But there is a strong argument that his influence on subsequent composers such as Haydn and Beethoven – both of whom were avid collectors of his music – was in many respects greater than his father’s. Indeed, in tirelessly promoting an aesthetic that aims to liberate instrumental music from service as polite entertainment, he is many ways the most significant progenitor of the “absolute music” which came to dominate conceptions of the art in the 19th century, and still – to a very large extent – presides over the life of our concert halls today.

C.P.E.’s rightful place in music history isn’t surprising when to you take into account the two towering musical figures that shaped his childhood, (1) his father and (2) his godfather, Georg Philipp Telemann.

Time has been very unkind, indeed.

Read more: CPE Bach: like father, like son (The Guardian)

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