Reviewed Elsewhere: David Schulenberg, The Music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

Michael Berkowitz's picture
David Schulenberg. The Music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2014. xv + 416 pp. $99.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-58046-481-9.
 
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788) was far more famous than his father, Johann Sebastian Bach, during the eighteenth century. During the nineteenth century, the two reputations were reversed: Sebastian attained a lofty and permanent place in the canon; Emanuel was forgotten except for a few compositions. The early twentieth century saw a gradual return of interest in Emanuel Bach’s music, and since the middle of the century there has been a rapid increase of attention to his works. To coincide with the three hundredth anniversary of Bach’s birth David Schulenberg has published The Music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, as part of the series Eastman Studies in Music, supplemented online by information about Bach’s life and music and by musical examples. ...
 
Schulenberg’s book contains more information about Emanuel Bach’s music than does any other single published volume to date. It might be regarded as a summation of all that has been written about the composer’s works in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, augmented by Schulenberg’s own contributions. ...
 
[A]lthough Schulenberg takes a negative view of much that has been written in explanation of Emanuel Bach’s eccentric style, the contribution that The Music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach makes is a positive one. Avoidance of any overt interpretative system has allowed Schulenberg to focus intensely on Bach’s music itself and to view the development of Bach’s style as a response to the circumstances of his musical career—the revision of many works during the 1740s, for example, as an effort to attain the Italianate style of the musical establishment of Frederick the Great. The book is an essential addition to the literature. Its value lies not only in the abundance of information about Bach’s works that it contains, but in its generous description of the compositional choices available during his lifetime.