Music lovers will of course know that this is the Sydney Opera House. Many years ago I had the pleasure to enjoy an opera in Sydney, but this post is not about any opera. It’s about money. About making music a profitable business. Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, the son of Johann Sebastian Bach, had to make money. Of course, he had a job back then in 1768. In March he had succeeded Georg Philipp Telemann as the musical director and Kantor in Hamburg. But his salary was low, and only four weeks after he had settled down in Hamburg, he announced his first public concert. It was a success and Bach immediately scheduled a second one. He gave regular concerts on a subscription basis until 1771, when he would start to run out of subscribers.
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 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.