Haydn, Mozart, and CPE Bach
March 8, 2020
Carl Philipp Enamuel Bach, one of the sons of Johann Sebastian Bach, was entirely taught by his father, and he became a composer in his own right. During his lifetime, CPE Bach achieved recognition; Mozart said of him, “He is the father, we are the children.” Haydn benefitted from studying CPE’s works, and Beethoven admired him, too. CPE is also considered the link between the end of the Baroque era, and the start of the Classical era. His own approach was lyrical with strong sudden and unpredictable shifts, with a sense of urgency and drama. Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, noted friends and composers, had different opinions on CPE; Schumann felt he remained very far behind his father, whereas Brahms held him in the highest esteem and edited some of his scores.
The legacy of his repertoire was vast: symphonies, concertos, chamber music, keyboard sonatas, and choral works. His music was innovative during its time, and he used harmonies to be highly descriptive for the mere sake of it – again, a forward-thinking approach.
Have a listen to CPE Bach’s Symphony in E-flat major, wq. 179. It’s vigorous, like a walk by the coast on a blustery day, as depicted in the painting.
CPE Bach was born March 8, 1714 in Weimar, Germany, and died Decmeber 14, 1788 in Hamburg.