The Letters of C.P.E Bach is the first complete edition of the letters to appear in a single volume in any language. Very few of the letters have appeared previously in English translation. Bach's letters are arguably the most significant extant collection by an eighteenth-century composer, with the notable exception of Mozart's. They give a fascinating picture of the most famous son of J.S. Bach hard at work publishing his own music, debating aesthetic
matters, and championing the music and teachings of his father. Most of the letters date from the last twenty years of Bach's life when he was working as music director of the five main churches in Hamburg. Almost 80% are addressed to five people: his printer in Leipzig, Johann Gottlob
Immanuel Breitkopf; his friend and agent in Göttingen, Johann Nikolaus Forkel; the Viennese music publisher, Artaria; the Schwerin organist and collector of Bach's music, Johann Jacob Heinrich Westphal; and Georg Philipp Telemann's grandson, Georg Michael, who served as one of the interim music directors in Hamburg before Bach's arrival. The literary personalities including Charles Burney, Karl Wilhelm Ramler, Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg, Johann Kaspar Lavater, and Johann Joachim
Eschenburg. The letters fall into three phases. In the first period, Bach is learning and struggling with his his new responsibilities in Hamburg. The second and largest phase begins in 1773 and is dominated by the collaboration between Bach, as publisher of his own works, and
Breitkopf, as printer of those works. The third period is characterized by Bach's painstaking final preparations of his estate and legacy during the last two years of his life. Bach's short transactional letters, chronicling his day-to-day business affairs, are balanced by longer, reflective ones that reveal more of Bachs personality and opinions than previous interpretations have suggested.
...a fascinating insight into the precarious business of musical publication in late eighteenth-century Germany. - Joachim Whaley. British Journal for 18th C Studies. Vol 21 1998.
`Stephen Clark's new English edition not only provides a translation of the letters already available in German (this in itself represents a large-scale achievement) but also adds items, and corrects previously published information with regard to numerous details in the texts and commentary ... The book is conscientiously edited, attractively printed, and laid out in an agreeably spacious manner ... The translation as a whole has been achieved with
sensitivity to both the structure and the content of the original texts ... the translated text arouses admiration at the skill deployed in preserving component parts of sentences and their interrelationship, while re-arranging them to create maximum flow in the English version.'
Susan Wollenberg, Music and Letters, Vol 80 no 3
`Clark's task ... has been an important one, and it has been skilfully accomplished ... exemplary apparatus combines to give an impression of comprehensive and dedicated scholarship, and this is borne out by the contents. The book is conscientiously edited, attractively printed, and laid out in an agreeably spacious manner ... the translation as a whole has been achieved with sensitivity to both the structure and the content of the original texts ... the
translated text arouses admiration at the skill deployed in preserving component parts of sentences and their interrelationship, while rearranging them to create maximum flow in the English version.'
Susan Wollenberg, Music and Letters, Vol 80, no 3, 1999