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The Music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

The Music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

David Schulenberg
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 532
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  • Book Info
    The Music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
    Book Description:

    Of the four sons of J. S. Bach who became composers, Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714-88) was the most prolific, the most original, and the most influential both during and after his lifetime. This first full-length English-language study critically surveys his output, examining not only the famous keyboard sonatas and concertos but also the songs, chamber music, and sacred works, many of which resurfaced in 1999 and have not previously been evaluated. The book also outlines the composer's career from his student days at Leipzig and Frankfurt (Oder) to his nearly three decades as court musician to Prussian King Frederick "the Great" and his last twenty years as cantor at Hamburg. Focusing on the composer's choices within his social and historical context, the book shows how C. P. E. Bach deliberately avoided his father's style while adopting the manner of his Berlin colleagues, derived from Italian opera. A new perspective on the composer emerges from the demonstration that C. P. E. Bach, best known for his virtuoso keyboard works, refashioned himself as a writer of vocal music and popular chamber compositions in response to changing cultural and aesthetic trends. Supplementary texts and musical examples are included on a companion website. David Schulenberg is professor of music at Wagner College and teaches historical performance at the Juilliard School. He is the author of The Music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (University of Rochester Press, 2010).

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-846-6
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Note about Online Supporting Material
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Chapter One Emanuel Bach in Context
    (pp. 1-12)

    No musician was ever more fortunate than Emanuel Bach. His father was the world’s greatest composer, keyboard player, and teacher of musicians. His older brother was the most brilliant improviser and keyboard virtuoso of his generation, and his youngest brother was the most influential composer of the next. Although his mother died a few months after his sixth birthday, his stepmother was a gifted musician with whom he evidently shared the manuscript book of keyboard music given her by his father. Born in Weimar, one of the most cultivated small towns in Germany, he grew up in Leipzig, site of...

  7. Chapter Two A Student in Leipzig
    (pp. 13-24)

    We know more about Emanuel Bach’s training and early compositions than about any other son or pupil of Sebastian. According to NV, ten keyboard sonatas and sonatinas, a suite, and two concertos, as well as seven “trios,” survive from his Leipzig years. In addition to a number of further compositions not listed in NV, we also have Emanuel’s testimony about how his father taught performance and composition, not to mention school records and other documents from Emanuel’s early years.

    Yet these traces are of limited use for understanding how Bach learned his craft and found his distinctive musical voice. All...

  8. Chapter Three Leipzig: First Works
    (pp. 25-35)

    Little survives of Emanuel’s work prior to his move to Berlin in 1738. That the mature Bach was concerned with leaving behind nothing that would embarrass him or his descendants is clear from his burning “a ream or more of old works,” as he mentioned doing in a letter of 1786.¹ An earlier note, included in a list of his keyboard music to 1772 (CV), indicated that he had set aside “all works [from] before the year 1733.” The word he used wascaßiret, which could mean “destroyed” but also has the more specific legal sense of “annulled” or “canceled”...

  9. Chapter Four From Leipzig to Frankfurt (Oder) and Berlin
    (pp. 36-57)

    Bach’s four years at Frankfurt are even more obscure than those of his childhood.¹ Although he enrolled at the Viadrina University in September 1734 as a law student, his chief purpose must have been to prepare for a career as cantor, an academic position that in the eighteenth century increasingly required the type of advanced education that his father had lacked. Virtually our sole documents for the period are musical ones: a few compositions, plus librettos and manuscript copies of works by others that provide hints about the types of music he performed there. Most of the compositions that originated...

  10. Chapter Five Joining the Court: Bach at Berlin
    (pp. 58-78)

    At Berlin, Bach became a type of musician that was new in early eighteenth-century Europe: a professional keyboard virtuoso who was neither a church organist nor a composer or director of music for a court. He arrived at Berlin without a position, and the court appointment that he soon obtained was part-time, allowing if not requiring him to find freelance work as a teacher, composer, and player. Present-day familiarity with the independent musical soloist or entrepreneur, an increasingly common type during the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, should not obscure for us its novelty at the time Bach began his...

  11. Chapter Six Bach’s Works of the 1740s: Sonatas, Concertos, Trios
    (pp. 79-106)

    Bach’s sonatas and concertos of the 1740s represent the first major plateau in his output, matched for their sustained originality and expressive intensity only by the solo keyboard music of his last decade and perhaps the songs of the late 1750s. His first publication, the Prussian Sonatas (W. 48), looks small and stylistically cautious within his output as a whole. Yet it was ambitious when it appeared in 1742, constituting the first set of regular three-movement keyboard sonatas issued by a German composer.¹ Its publication was a coup for its twenty-eight-year-old composer, not least because the relative newcomer to the...

  12. Chapter Seven Beyond the Court
    (pp. 107-138)

    Bach’s work underwent profound changes after 1750. The period immediately after his father’s death that year saw relatively little composition, but Bach’s output soon diversified and expanded. He would remain prolific to the end of his career, although with his move to Hamburg in 1768 the nature of his output would shift drastically: he would remake himself as primarily a composer of vocal music. The transition began during the later 1750s, when Bach’s production of numerous songs (lieder) was the first signal that he was no longer to be almost exclusively a composer of instrumental music. Already by then, however,...

  13. Chapter Eight Berlin and After: Songs and the New Aesthetic of Vocal Music
    (pp. 139-178)

    Bach had written significant vocal works during the 1730s at Frankfurt and in 1749 at Berlin, but not until the late 1750s did he begin his self-transformation into a serious composer for the voice. He would complete only one more large vocal work before his departure for Hamburg in 1768; this was the Easter Music of 1756, what we would call a cantata, comparable to the church works of his father and older brother. Until then he had also been occasionally writing strophic lieder, but the number of these would soon increase drastically, and for the rest of his life...

  14. Chapter Nine Leaving the Court: Music Mainly for Concerts
    (pp. 179-218)

    After Bach completed the Gellert Songs in 1758, he returned to the types of music he had been producing before the war—chiefly solo keyboard works, presumably because of a diminished need for concertos and other ensemble music. He would publish two major ensemble works during the war, the E-Minor Sinfonia and the E-Major Concerto, as well as theOdenof 1762, containing twenty songs, but only a few of the latter were new. He composed almost nothing new in 1761, but by then he must have been busy with volume 2 of theVersuch, which had been advertised in...

  15. Chapter Ten The Later Keyboard Music
    (pp. 219-245)

    Bach’s official duties at Hamburg involved solely vocal music, and during his years there his public probably knew him better for his vocal compositions—songs and oratorios as well as liturgical music—than his instrumental works. Yet although most of his output passed into oblivion within a few decades of his death, the famous publications of solo keyboard music issued at Hamburg kept his name alive to small numbers of adherents. During the twentieth century, it was above all the six collections of pieces “forKenner und Liebhaber”—connoisseurs and music lovers—that maintained his reputation as a quirky but...

  16. Chapter Eleven Church Piece and Oratorio at Hamburg
    (pp. 246-284)

    Bach’s transformation into a composer primarily of sacred vocal music seems at first glance to have taken place quite suddenly. Hardly any works are datable to 1768, the year of Bach’s move to Hamburg. But NV places several major vocal works in 1769, including his first Hamburg passion and an oratorio, alongside a number of instrumental works.¹ Although the move must have taken some toll on Bach’s productivity, he seems to have found life at Hamburg comfortable and congenial. He must have quickly established good working relationships with his musicians and several reliable copyists, ensuring the steady output of music...

  17. Chapter Twelve Swan Songs
    (pp. 285-312)

    Whatever frustrations and difficulties Bach encountered at Hamburg left few signs in the documentary record. His years there were his most productive, even discounting the substantial number of church works that were more arrangements or adaptations of existing music than original compositions. While at Hamburg Bach also published most of the instrumental works that kept his name alive for two centuries after his death, even after most of his other music had been forgotten or become inaccessible. Bach himself, however, seems to have considered those compositions, including the six late volumes of keyboard pieces forKenner und Liebhaber, to be...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 313-378)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 379-398)
  20. Index
    (pp. 399-416)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 417-417)