The music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the second of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sons, is not only worth a detour, it is worth going back on our own’s tracks. Simply because it’s beautiful, uplifting and a perfect start into a new day. This summer, I presented Bach’s Cello Concerto in A minor (Wq. 170), an arrangement of his Keyboard Concerto in A minor (Wq. 26). The keyboard concerto will be the focal point of today’s post. As the cello version, it saw the light in 1750, ten years after Bach had joined the orchestra of the Prussian King Frederic II in Berlin. It was also the year his famous father died.
The summer is not over yet? If that is so, let’s celebrate one more sunny day with one of the most beautiful double-concertos I know of. Sparks of joy, energy and vitality mark this piece, which had to be considered avant-garde at the time of its composition. In the year 1740, the Baroque era was drawing to its end and composers in the wake of Johann Sebastian Bach were bridging the gap to the Vienna classics era. One of these composers was Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, the second son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Just like the keyboard concerto I have presented in an earlier post in July, today’s piece foreshadows the modern concertos that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven would write several decades later.
Stepping out of the shadow of a famous father is always a challenge. Especially if that father is Johann Sebastian Bach. But it can be done. Better, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach stepped out of his father’s shadow without betraying his heritage and, much to his family’s glory and satisfaction, his music quickly evolved from the Baroque forms he had learned from his father to what was the fashion of the day at the Prussian court in Berlin or in Hamburg, where he would take up the post of Georg Philipp Telemann after the latter’s death.