In 1746 Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach composed a concerto that has move up my play count list at a steady road since I downloaded it. There are few pieces I listen to so regularly. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in C Major (Wq. 20) exerts a singular fascination upon me as it triggers emotional responses of mine that do not fit together. Still the piece is totally coherent as it should be for a work of a man descending from one of the greatest composers ever. Has it to do withe piece itself? Or with the fact that on my recording the piano replaces Bach’s harpsichord? I can’t say.
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.