Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach – People and Places
“As an acquaintance he was a keen and cheerful man full of wit and humour, buoyant and gleeful in the company of his friends” (…)
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was a sociable and humorous person. Conviviality and wit were considered special virtues in the age of enlightenment and emotionalism in which he lived (1714–1788). This could reach from chivalrous suavity all the way to politically subversive humour and accompanied the cultural emancipation of the German bourgeoisie unfolding under the aegis of the Enlightenment, which lead from courtly employment to civic independence. This transition is also exemplified by C. P. E. Bach’s biography, guiding him from initial studies in Leipzig and thirty years of service at the Royal Prussian Court in Berlin (1738–68) to the aspiring Hanseatic City of Hamburg (1768-88). Even in the idiosyncratic character of his compositions can the spirit spawned by the surging self-confidence of the bourgeoisie and its emotional realm be recognised. By stipulating the primacy of emotional expression for music in general, which is so consistently realised in his compositions, C. P. E. Bach proved a committed contemporary in the era of sensitivity. Hence it is hardly surprising that he participated passionately in the intellectual life of his age and was personally acquainted with many scholars.