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CPE Bach discusses originality (1797)

April 17, 2008

In this extract from his autobiography of 1797 CPE Bach discusses originality.

Additions in square brackets are by WS Newman.

Because I have had to compose most of my works for specific individuals and for the public, I have always been more restrained in them than in the few pieces that I have written merely for myself. At times I even have had to follow ridiculous instructions, although it could be that such not exactly pleasant conditions have led my talents to certain discoveries that I might not otherwise have come upon.

Since I have never liked excessive uniformity in composition and taste, since I have heard such a quantity and variety of good [things], since I have always been of the opinion that one could derive some good, whatever it may be even if it is only a matter of minute details in a piece, probably from such [considerations] and my natural, God-given ability arises the variety that has been observed in my works…..Among all my works, especially for keyboard, there are only a few trios, solos, and concertos that I have composed in complete freedom and for my particular use.

Autobiography, CPE Bach, 1797, Chapter 41, Section 12.
Quoted in: Newman, William S, The Sonata in the Classic Era, Third Edition, W W Norton & Company Inc., New York & London, 1983, ISBN 0-393-95286, p.422.

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