Hailed by his contemporaries as a true genius, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), the second son of Johann Sebastian Bach, was held in far higher esteem during his own lifetime than his now more famous father. Nicknamed the 'Hamburg Bach', he is considered the most important composer of the Empfindsamer Stil (sensitive style), which marked the transition from the baroque to the classical era.
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was one of four children from Johann Sebastian Bach's first marriage and received his musical education at his parents' home. After spending his childhood in Weimar, Köthen and Leipzig, he went on to study law at Leipzig and Frankfurt an der Oder. Music remained his true calling, however, and in 1740 he became a harpsichordist at the court of Frederick the Great in Potsdam. After more than twenty years' service and having secured his reputation as a composer throughout Europe, C.P.E. Bach took up the post of Director of Church Music in Hamburg in 1768, which he held until his death.
The gregarious composer was closely associated with the intellectual life of the day, and his circle of friends included not only musicians but also many poets. This is reflected in his extensive body of work, which features numerous lieder and cantatas along with the symphonic and chamber music and the religious choral works that he composed in his official capacity. Also renowned as a virtuoso on the harpsichord, the composer's most personal work was his collection for the piano Für Kenner und Liebhaber. His individual style of composition inspired the young Haydn and thus contributed to the emergence of the Viennese classical period (Mozart and Beethoven).
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