Time to Compose, Time to Rejoice

Early joy. © Charles Thibo

The first bars already make me feel happy and joyful. There is nothing like a keyboard concerto from the pen of Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach to start a morning. This particular piece, the Keyboard Concerto in E Major (Wq. 14/H. 417), has a particular dynamic that fills me with energy, joy and hope, no matter how grey the day might be. But when I felt inspired to write about it, it was a clear, frosty morning, the sun still hiding behind the horizon, while the blue sky already announced a beautiful day.

The son of Johann Sebastian Bach was at times more famous than his father, which is less surprising than it may appear. Johann Sebastian Bach was first of all a church musician with had little interest in glory. Music was his vocation, his duty to God and a way to pay for a large household. When his son entered the music business, he count not count on a permanent position as a church musician, for the dominant position of the Bach family as church musicians was frowned upon in many parts of Germany. He had to look for a patron, preferably a patron that could pay for a private orchestra, say a prince or a king.

Writing entertaining music was a way to secure an income and a certain publicity did certainly help. Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach was only at the beginning of his career, but he saw to it that his music followed the fashion trend of the time. He scored the concerto for harpsichord, two violins, a viol and a basso continuo. It saw the light around 1744 and was first published in Berlin in 1760.

At the time the young Bach worked as chamber musician for the Prussian court. In 1744/45 the Prussian king Frederic II was busy commanding his troops in a war against the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. For Bach it meant that the Hofkapelle had little to do and that he had ample time to compose. He wrote no less than eight new keyboard sonatas and seven keyboard concerts. Wq. 14 was one of them.

1744 was also the year that Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach married a young woman of the name of Johanna Maria Dannemann. Perhaps this explains the joyful and optimistic mood of the piece. Bach had a secure job, enjoyed the protection of influential people at the court, he had time to compose and celebrated his wedding with the daughter of a wine merchant. Founding a household meant he had to move to a larger house; a year later the first of his two sons was born. Happy times!

The Keyboard Concerto in E Major has been recorded by the Leipziger Kammerorchester and Micheal Rische.

© Charles Thibo

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de Chareli

Writer, photographer, piano student, music enthusiast. And a lot more. You are welcome to follow my blog.