Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

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Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (8 March 1714 – 14 December 1788) was a German musician and composer, the second of three sons of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. He was a crucial composer in the transition between the Baroque and Classical periods, and one of the founders of the Classical style, composing in the Rococo and Classical periods. His second name was given in honor of Georg Philipp Telemann, a friend of Emanuel's father and his godfather.


Life and works

When he was ten years old he entered the St. Thomas School at Leipzig, where his father had become cantor in 1723, and continued his education as a student of jurisprudence at the universities of Leipzig (1731) and of Frankfurt (Oder) (1735). In 1738, at the age of 24, he took his degree, but at once abandoned his prospects of a legal career and determined to devote himself to music.

A few months later (armed with a recommendation by Sylvius Leopold Weiss) he obtained an appointment in the service of Frederick II of Prussia ("Frederick the Great"), the then crown prince, and upon Frederick's accession in 1740 Emanuel became a member of the royal orchestra. He was by this time one of the foremost clavier-players in Europe, and his compositions, which date from 1731, include about thirty sonatas and concert pieces for harpsichord and clavichord. During his time there, Berlin was a rich artistic environment, where Bach mixed with many accomplished musicians, including several notable former students of his father, and important literary figures, such as Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, with whom the composer would become close friends.

In Berlin he continued to write numerous musical pieces for solo keyboard, including a series of character pieces, the so-called "Berlin Portraits," including La Caroline.

His reputation was established by the two published sets of sonatas which he dedicated respectively to Frederick the Great and to the grand duke of Württemberg. In 1746 he was promoted to the post of chamber musician, and served the king with the likes of Carl Heinrich Graun, Johann Joachim Quantz, and Franz Benda.

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