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Reviewed by:
  • The Music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bachby David Schulenberg
  • Randall Goldberg
The Music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. By David Schulenberg. ( East -man Studies in Music, vol. 114.) Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2014. [xv, 416 p. ISBN 9781580464819. $99.] Music examples, online supplemental materials, bibliography, index.

“No musician was ever more fortunate than Emanuel Bach,” (p. 1) writes David Schulenberg at the outset of his recent, comprehensive study of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (hereafter referred to as Bach). That may have been true during Bach’s life, and it is certainly apparent in the last two decades. The Sing-Akademie’s Notenarchiv, which contains a great number of Bach’s manuscripts, made its way home to Berlin in 2001, giving scholars and musicians access to a treasure trove of long unseen documents. (The collection had been residing in the Kyïv University in Ukraine. For information on its storied past, see Christoph Wolff, “Recovered in Kiev: Bach et al. A Preliminary Report on the Music Collection of the Berlin SingAkademie,” Notes58, no. 2 [December 2001]: 259–71). The occasion of Bach’s 300th birthday in 2014 was celebrated with many concerts and academic gatherings. Furthermore, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Complete Works(published by the Packard Humanities Institute), continues to release new, scholarly editions of Bach’s music. Given the growth of and interest in Bach scholarship, a reassessment of his work is timely. Schulenberg, an accomplished keyboardist and musicologist, has previously published books on Bach ( The Instrumental Music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach(Studies in Musicology, no. 77) [Ann Arbor: MI: UMI Research Press, 1984], his older brother Wilhelm Friedemann ( The Music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach(Eastman Studies in Music, vol. 79) [Rochester, NY: Uni versity of Rochester Press, 2010]), and his father Johann Sebastian ( The Keyboard Music of J. S. Bach[New York: Schirmer, 1992; 2d ed., New York: Routledge, 2006]). In this volume, he incorporates much of his previous research and new insights, as well as recent work by other scholars. The end result is a detailed and informative volume that resituates Bach’s compositional development and achievements in eighteenth-century musical culture. Although Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann, and other musicians who flourished in the mid-eighteenth century were once called “pre-classical” or “transitional” composers, Schulen berg rightfully acknowledges the problems with evolutionary conceptions of music history (p. iv). Instead, his narrative focuses on Bach’s engagement with his contemporaries and the popular musical genres of the day. Whereas his 1984 book on Bach’s instrumental music included several discussions of “mannerism,” this effort appropriately seeks to place Bach’s compositional choices within a more tangible social context.

Dividing a composer’s life into three major periods of activity may raise a few eyebrows, but Schulenberg’s tripartite organization coincides with Bach’s important residences throughout his career: training (Leipzig, chapters 2–4), development of distinctive types of keyboard and chamber music (Frankfurt (Oder) and Berlin, chapters 5–9), and self-refashioning as a composer of vocal music (Hamburg, chapters 10–12). This schema is common in Bach studies (see, for example, Hans-Günter Otten berg’s life-and-works study, C. P. E. Bach[trans. Philip J. Whitmore; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987]), and it also allows Schulenberg to contextualize Bach’s development among the activities of his family and colleagues, in association with various intellectual communities and in relation to his job duties. In discussing Bach’s tutelage under his father, for example, Schulenberg notes similarities and divergences between the early keyboard music of his subject and Wilhelm Friedemann, triangulating Bach among his musical family. Writing of Bach’s early polonaises, [End Page 561]Schulen berg claims, “These would be the fundamental textures of virtually all Emanuel’s keyboard music—and of Friedemann’s; neither brother would ever have much use for the denser counterpoint of their father’s keyboard works” (p. 27); and later, “As in Sebastian’s Partita [BWV 829], the hand-crossings of [Bach’s] W. 111 are perplexing until one has spent some time at the keyboard figuring out how they work. Friedemann would continue to write similar things throughout his career; Emanuel...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-150X
Print ISSN
0027-4380
Pages
pp. 561-263
Launched on MUSE
2016-02-10
Open Access
No
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