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C. P. E. Bach, Enlightenment, Musical Philosophy, Frederick the Great, Empfindsamer Stil, Doctrine of Affections


While there has been a renewed interest in recent years on Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and his place as a transitional figure in Western music history, little academic thought is given to his musical philosophy. Emanuel’s father, Johann Sebastian Bach, taught him the German-Protestant view that the primary purpose of music was to highlight scripture. Through his education, Emanuel gained an appreciation for the secular philosophies of humanism and the Enlightenment. In contrast to J. S. Bach’s Protestant views, the philosophies of the Enlightenment asserted that the primary purpose of music was to highlight the essence of humanity through emotions and reasoning. During his many years of working with Frederick the Great, Emanuel developed his musical style as he was influenced by many Enlightenment philosophers and musicians, primarily René Descartes and Jean-Philippe Rameau. Emanuel’s use of the Empfindsamer Stil in music expanded the Enlightenment musical philosophy of the Doctrine of Affections by representing the unstable nature of human emotion. Emanuel’s Versuch über die wahre art das clavier zu spielen was not only a profound declaration of musical theory technique but also demonstrated his belief that music should be guided by emotion.





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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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