Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (March 8, 1714 - December 14, 1788) was a German musician and composer; and the second of five sons of Johann Sebastian Bach and his frist wife, Maria Barbara Bach. He is considered to be one of the founders of the Classical style, composing in the Rococo and Classical periods.
When he was ten years old he entered the St. Thomas School at Leipzig, where his father had been appointed cantor in 1723, and continued his education as a student of jurisprudence at the universities of Leipzig (1731) and of Frankfurt (Oder) (1735). In 1738, at the age of 24, he took his degree, but at once abandoned his prospects of a legal career and determined to devote himself to music.
A few months later, on the recommendation of Sylvius Leopold Weiss, he obtained an appointment in the service of the Frederick II of Prussia (known as "Frederick the Great"), the then crown prince, and upon Frederick's accession to King in 1740, Carl Philipp became a member of the royal orchestra. He was by this time heralded as one of the foremost clavier-players in Europe, and his compositions, which date from 1731, include about thirty sonatas and concert pieces for harpsichord and clavichord.
In Berlin he continued to write numerous musical pieces for solo keyboard, including a series of character pieces – the so-called "Berlin Portraits" including La Caroline.
His reputation was established by the two sets of sonatas which he dedicated respectively to Frederick the Great and to the grand duke of Württemberg; in 1746 he was promoted to the post of chamber musician, and for twenty-two years shared with Carl Heinrich Graun, Johann Joachim Quantz, and Johann Gottlieb Naumann the continued favour of the king.
During his residence in Berlin, he wrote a fine setting of the Magnificat (1749), in which he shows more traces than usual of his father's influence; an Easter cantata (1756); several symphonies and concerted works; at least three volumes of songs; and a few secular cantatas and other occasional pieces. But his main work was concentrated on the clavier, for which he composed, at this time, nearly two hundred sonatas and other solos, including the set Mit veränderten Reprisen (1760-1768) and a few of those für Kenner und Liebhaber. Meanwhile he placed himself in the forefront of European critics by his Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen, a systematic and masterly treatise which by 1780 had reached its third edition, and which laid the foundation for the methods of Muzio Clementi and Johann Baptist Cramer.
In 1768 Bach succeeded Georg Philipp Telemann as Kapellmeister at Hamburg, and in consequence of his new office began to turn his attention more towards church music. The next year he produced his oratorio Die Israeliten in der Wüste, a composition remarkable not only for its great beauty but for the resemblance of its plan to that of Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah, and between 1769 and 1788 added over twenty settings of the Passion, and some seventy cantatas, litanies, motets, and other liturgical pieces. At the same time, his genius for instrumental composition was further stimulated by the career of Franz Joseph Haydn. He died in Hamburg on December 14, 1788.