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A Pianist’s Final Message: Overlooked Works by a Son of Bach

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A Pianist’s Final Message: Overlooked Works by a Son of Bach


Peter Serkin had a lifelong fascination with the piano works of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Perhaps he saw in him a kindred spirit. Like Mr. Serkin, whose father was the great pianist Rudolf Serkin, C.P.E. was the son of a famous musician: Johann Sebastian Bach.

Mr. Serkin especially loved the six books of sonatas, rondos and fantasias — 37 pieces in all — that Emanuel Bach, as he was often known, collected and published for “Kenner und Liebhaber” (“Connoisseurs and Amateurs”), as the volumes were titled.

That these pieces were so little known baffled Mr. Serkin. During the 18th century, if you mentioned Bach, most people assumed you were referring to Emanuel (1714-88), whose…



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