What must it be like to be the son of a very famous father? Especially when you are trying to make your way in the very same field. I remember reading an interview on this subject with the author Nick Harkaway when he published his first novel, The Gone-Away World. His father? John Le Carre. His approach? To do his own thing. Quite right. It turns out that the issue, if there is one, is for others.
CPE Bach was the fifth (and second surviving) son of J S Bach. Since the eighteenth century, the course of history has established JS as the premier composer of the Bach family. But contemporary thinking had CPE at the top. The great WA Mozart famously said ‘He is the father. We are the children’. And as this article notes, he had a strong influence on Hadyn and Beethoven.
CPE contributed significantly to the transition of music away from the baroque style of his father through to the more classical and romantic styles of later periods. This can be detected in the very small but representative set of works which I have – his three cello concertos. These pieces are neat yet lyrical, with plenty of opportunity for the soloist to demonstrate the virtuosity and richness of the cello.
Can we assume that CPE had taken all the benefits of his father’s wisdom and training, using this as the best ever springboard for his own creative journey? Could he have produced such high quality work without his father? Nature vs nurture? Or shall we go with both and be thankful for it. They can both be the Daddy.