The German Sappho sings about the wine merchant’s daughter

»Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach – People and Places

In the beginning of 1768, when it was long known that C. P. E. Bach had moved from Berlin to Hamburg, the following verses were published in the Unterhaltungen aus Hamburg (Conversations from Hamburg)

Until now with sweet string tone
You enthuse our earthly God so Great,
Since he, upon his father’s throne,
Has been ruling with delight.

Since Frederick’s first victories,
And grave regal solicitudes,
Oh Bach, you so often opened
His heart to pleasures of the sense:

You go where your fortune takes you,
To that great city of boats,
That like old Tyre, at all times prospering,
Is blessed with pious citizens. (…)

Anna Luisa Karsch (1722–1791), portrait by Karl Christian Kehrer (1791). (Source: Wikipedia)The author, Anna Luisa Karsch (1722–1791), often referred to as the German Sappho,  had been acquainted with C. P. E. Bach since his period in Berlin, and she was widely considered a natural lyricist. Originating from a humble background she had taught herself to read and right as a milkmaid. As a successful ad-hoc lyricist she was procured to Berlin, where she was promoted by Sulzer, Lessing and Karl Wilhelm Ramler. These connections must have made her known to Bach. In 1764, Gleim published her first poetry collection. The naive Prussian patriotism with which she paid homage to the military triumphs of Frederick II suited his fancy. The praised King of Prussia promised the young poet an own house, which she eventually received from his successor, Frederick William II

Also C. P. E. Bach’s spouse Johanna Maria (1724–1795), daughter of Berlin wine merchant Danneman, who had probably met Bach for the first time in her father’s business and married him at the beginning of 1744, was extolled by the German Sappho:

Woman, let me greet you as a new friend
And three times be greeted by the soft morning kiss
Of your beloved Bach. For all I care he shall
Continue to enrapture you and wake your taste
So that you mildly smile into his eye
Begging for new kisses in abundance (…)

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