Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach (1714–1788)

How to say the name:

‘Bach’ is said like Bark. The other names are easy to say.

St Michaelis Church in Hamburg where C.P.E. Bach is buried


8th March 1714 in Weimar, Germany.


14th December 1788 in Hamburg, Germany.


Michaeliskirche (Church of St. Michael) in Hamburg.

Type of Music:

Classical music from the late baroque period to the early classical period.

Most Famous Piece:

Solfeggietto in C minor (H 220, Wq 117:2). (See below for a video.)

Some of his best pieces:
  • Some keyboard sonatas.
  • Die Israeliten in der Wüste (‘The Israelites in the Wilderness’).
  • Harpsichord Concertos in G major (Wq. 3) and D major (Wq. 11).
  • Flute Concerto in D Minor (Wq. 22).
Some interesting facts:
  • He was a son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach.
  • One of the main composers to create the classical period.
  • He was very popular in his life-time and for a while afterwards.
  • This is what Mozart said about C.P.E. Bach: “He is the father, we are the children.”

Here is a video of part of an Oboe Concerto by C.P.E. Bach.

The slow movement from an oboe concerto by C.P.E. Bach

And here is a video of C.P.E. Bach’s most famous piece, the Solfeggietto in C minor. It is a piece that many people learn to play when they are having piano lessons (including me!).

C.P.E. Bach’s most famous piece—Solfeggietto in C minor

Picture credits:
  1. Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach. This image is in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
  2. St Michaelis Church in Hamburg where C.P.E. Bach is buried. This photograph was taken in December 2004 by the user Heidas on Wikipedia. This image is free to use providing one credits the photographer. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
Video credits:
  1. Oboe concerto by C. P. E. Bach / Stefan Schilli, oboe. II. Largo e mesto Stefan Schilli, oboe. Bach Collegium München. Christopher Hogwood, leitung.
  2. CPE Bach: Solfeggietto in C minor (H 220, Wq 117:2)). The pianist writes This very short video is of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s best-known piece, one of three ‘solfeggios’ written in 1770. It is probably learned by every aspiring pianist, and is sometimes used in examination syllabuses (including ABRSM). Solfeggietto means little study. I have used a public domain edition apparently edited by Hans von Bulow, and while I have retained his octave doublings, I have discarded the few notes he suggested in the last bar to give a conventional ending (my performance ends very quietly – the last note is there!). It is played at many different tempi, and always provides a challenge for the player to get the semiquavers even. Nevertheless, I think a little rubato is sometimes in order!