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CPE Bach’s influence on Mozart

August 21, 2008

This account of a meeting between WA Mozart and CPE Bach is by Johann Friedrich Rochlitz and is from Für Freunde der Tonkunst (1824).

When Mozart visited Leipzig a few years before his death, he had passed through Hamburg shortly before, and there he had taken pains to visit Bach, by then already advanced in years; he heard Bach improvise a few times on his Silbermann instrument. During a musical soirée at the home of Doles Mozart was asked by his host for his opinion of Bach’s playing, as the conversation was entirely concerned with such matters. The great man replied with his characteristically Viennese candour and directness; He is the father, we are the children. Those of us who know anything at all learned it from him; anyone who does not admit this is a ……(this last word seemed to be connected in some way that I did not understand). What he did, Mozart continued, would be considered old fashioned now; but the way he did it was unsurpassable. He preferred to hear me play on the organ, although I have long since been out of practice. He didn’t mind that; and so he embraced me over and over again, until I almost cried out.

F. Rochlitz, Für Freunde der Tonkunst, 4 vols. (Leipzig, 1824-32), pp. 308f. n.
Quoted in: Ottenberg, Hans-Günter, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (trans. PJ Whitmore), OUP, 1987, ISBN 0 19 315246 0, p.191.

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