The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Let’s celebrate Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach at 300 with NPR and with the local violin-harpsichord duo SGD next weekend.

March 15, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

In case you missed it, March 8, 2014 – a week ago Saturday — was the 300th birthday of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (below in a painting from 1733 by a relative), one of the several famous musical sons of the illustrious Johann Sebastian Bach.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach in 1733 painted by Gottfriend Friedrich Bach, a relative

What should you know about C.P.E. Bach? What is his importance in artistic and musicological terms? He was a seminal figure in crossing over from the Baroque era and style to the Classical era and style.

But the details about how he did that are fascinating — and make for good listening. And they make him seem under-appreciated and underperformed. (One important example you can hear in his important Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Fortepiano in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

I can’t think of a better introduction than the one provided by the “Deceptive Cadence: blog on NPR. It feature historical and biographical background. And it also included sound samples and recording recommendations.

Here is a link:

carl philipp emanuel bach

I don’t recall hearing of much in the way of local celebrations, although works by C.P.E. Bach were aired on WORT FM 88.9 and Wisconsin Public Radio FM 88.7.

For live music, you might want to read the following announcement from blog friends and local music, baroque violinist Edith Hines and keyboardist (harpsichord and organ) UW-Madison professor John Chappell Stowe who together make up the Ensemble SDG (below).

Next Saturday and Sunday, March 22 and 23, they will perform a 300th birthday tribute.

ensemble sdg new USE

Here are details:

In the month of March 2014, Ensemble SDG celebrates the 300th anniversary of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (born March 8, 1714) with a recital of his music along with works by three of his close contacts: his famous father, Johann Sebastian Bach (below who also has a birthday this month); his godfather, Georg Philipp Telemann; and one of his colleagues, Johann Gottlieb Graun.


“We will present the program twice in Madison: on Saturday, March 22, at 7 p.m. at the Chocolaterian Cafe (2004 Atwood Avenue); and on Sunday, March 23, at 3 p.m. at the Madison Public Library (Central Library, Room 301, 201 West Mifflin Street).

“Both performances are free, although donations will be gratefully accepted at the Chocolaterian. Not to mention, of course, that the Chocolaterian would appreciate your patronage—and we can affirm that when you look at the menu or in the bakery case, you may find it difficult not to oblige!

“For more information, including program details, please visit our blog at

“We hope to see you there!”

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