C.P.E. Bach at 300

The following is a guest post from Daniel Boomhower, Head of Reader Services in the Music Division.

In the eighteenth century mention of the name Bach brought foremost to mind either Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782), the “London Bach,” or to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), from 1768 the “Hamburg Bach” and from about 1740 to 1768 the “Berlin Bach.” Certainly, the musical cognoscenti knew of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and of his other two musically active sons Wilhelm Friedemann (1710-1784), who worked in Dresden, Halle, and Berlin, and Johann Christoph Friedrich (1732-1795), who worked in Bückeburg, Germany. And, in the central German states the Bach name became almost synonymous with music over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But, only C. P. E. Bach and J. C. Bach enjoyed international reputations in their lifetimes.

In the nineteenth century, while the general public was “re-discovering” the music of his father, C. P. E. Bach’s music remained known and well regarded. Johannes Brahms owned autograph manuscripts of C. P. E.’s music and edited it for publication. In the early twentieth century, C. P. E. Bach’s music also factored significantly in the early music revival, in no small part because of his highly informative treatise on keyboard playing. However, by the mid-twentieth century C. P. E. Bach’s music began to be overshadowed by his father, George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) and his younger contemporaries Mozart (1756-1791) and Haydn (1732-1809).

This 300th anniversary of the C. P. E. Bach’s birth represents an opportunity to rediscover music previous generations had known much better. Over the weekend of April 4 and April 5, 2014 the Library of Congress concerts offer our audience the chance not only to hear both keyboard and orchestral music by C. P. E. Bach but also to place it in context. The concerts, by the harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani (Friday, April 4) and by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (Saturday, April 5), encompass a panoply of eighteenth century music by J. S. Bach, W. F. Bach, C. P. E. Bach, and J. C. Bach as well as by J. S. Bach’s predecessor in Leipzig, Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722), and G. F. Handel. The impact of the early music revival is also reflected in the two twentieth century compositions for harpsichord by Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) and Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) to be performed by Esfahani. Preceding each concert will be discussions of C. P. E. Bach and his music. On Friday, I will provide an introduction to the large collection of eighteenth century manuscripts and printed editions of C. P. E. Bach’s music held by the Library of Congress. On Saturday I will be joined by Dr. Paul Corneilson and Dr. Mark Knoll, editors working on the publication of the complete works of C. P. E. Bach, to discuss the music and the nature of a scholarly edition of music. Objects from the Library of Congress collection relating to the concerts, including eighteenth century manuscripts and printed editions of all of the composers included in the concerts, will be displayed on both nights in the foyer of the Coolidge Auditorium.

C. P. E. Bach at 300 Event Listings

Friday, April 4, 2014 – 8:00pm (Coolidge Auditorium)

MAHAN ESFAHANI, harpsichord
Works by Kuhnau, J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, W.F. Bach and Prokofiev
Tickets required. Advanced tickets are sold-out. RUSH tickets are available from 6:00pm at the door.

Pre-Concert Presentation – 6:30pm (Whittall Pavilion)
Daniel Boomhower, Head, Reader Services, Music Division
No tickets required

Mahan Esfahani Program Booklet

Saturday, April 5, 2014 – 8:00pm (Coolidge Auditorium)
AKADEMIE FÜR ALTE MUSIK BERLIN
Works by J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, J.C. Bach and Handel
Tickets required. Advanced tickets are sold-out. RUSH tickets are available from 6:00pm at the door.

Pre-Concert Presentation – 6:30pm (Whittall Pavilion)
“Editing and Performing the Music of C.P.E. Bach.” Dr. Paul Corneilson, managing editor and Mark Knoll, editor of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Complete Works. Moderated by Daniel Boomhower, Head, Reader Services, Music Division
No tickets required

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin Program Booklet

Presented in association with the German Federal Foreign Office, Goethe-Institut and Packard Humanities Institute

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