When, at the end of the 18th century in Germany, they talked of the “great Bach”, it was usually not Johann Sebastian they had in mind, who was admired at the time by just a few connoisseurs, but his second son, Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714 –1788) in whose powerful talent Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven delighted and whose influence extended even to the early romantics: Weber, Hoffmann, Mendelssohn.
Emanuel Bach’s striking individuality made it impossible for him to fit into any one school or style. In the music of the 18th century he stands on his own, belonging in entirety neither to the baroque nor classical styles.
There is no mistaking C.P.E. Bach’s style; it is recognizable right from its first abrupt, tense, almost electric phrases which seem to anticipate the pre-storm atmosphere of the Sturm und Drang period. In the eyes of his contemporaries he was regarded not just as a maître (as was his father), but as a genius in so far as at that time the term genius tended to be associated above all with people possessing exceptional personalities, exceptional ability in the arts taking second place.