Hamburgian Freemasons, philanthropists and musicologists

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach – People and Places

Johann Georg Büsch (1728–1800), copper engraving by Christian Schule (1798). (Source: Wikipedia)

C. P. E. Bach easily made contact to enlightened circles comparable to his acquaintances in Berlin – such fellows lived right next to him. In Fuhlentwiete in the New Town of Hamburg where Bach’s family had moved in 1769 lived also Johann Georg Büsch (1723–1800). As a mathematics professor and economic theorist he had been one of the founders of the commercial academy, which he at times relocated to his spacious, hospitable house. Büsch, a Freemason and true philanthropist who founded a health insurance and a medical institute for the poor, was a typical proponent of the Enlightenment. Perhaps Bach wrote his Twelve Freemason Songs (Wq 202/N) in the year of his death for Büsch.

Büsch‘s house was one of the intellectual centres of the city and a magnet for musicians. Here Bach soon became acquainted with composer and music author  Johann Friedrich Reichardt (1752–1814) who was very much influenced by the Storm and Stress movement, historian and librarian Christoph Daniel Ebeling (1741–1817), who periodically would write lyrics for him, and publisher Johann Joachim Christoph Bode (1731–1793). 

Matthias Claudius (1740–1815), painting attributed to Friederike Leisching (c. 1797). (Source: Wikipedia)

Other new friends in Hamburg comprised the medics Johann Christoph Unzer (†1799) and Johann Albert Heinrich Reimarus (1729–1814). Old friends from his days in Berlin whom Bach met again in Hamburg were Lessing and George Anthony (Jiri Antonin) Benda, the one of the four Benda brothers whom Bach most sympathised with regarding his views on music. He had been commissioned by the Hamburgian Theater am Gänsemarkt. 

Eventually there were acquaintances who were attracted by Bach’s fame and whose invasiveness could become tedious to him. Matthias Claudius (1740-1815, “The messenger from Wandsbeck”), whom Bach repeatedly disavowed, was one of them.

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