Twinings Tea,18th c. Patron of Bach!

On international fame of C.P.E.Bach, Horizontal understanding of Music History, 18th. century coffeeshops and… tea of course!

Richard Twining, a huge fan of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach!

Anchor points and our collective memory : stand-in-the-way for understanding history

In our collective memory of history today, the death of J.S.Bach very quickly is followed by the birth of W.A.Mozart. In other words: our minds travel from that one anchor point in Leipzig 1750 to 1756, where Salzburg seems to be a direct guide to Vienna, although our friend Wolfgang would only spent a small part of his life in the famous musical city.

Of course, this is how collective memories work: jumping from one major milestone to another.  And today, there is nobody to blame but ourselves if we do not fill in the gaps. Information today is cheaper and especially more accessible than ever.

But…it is an uphill fight, that road to self searched information. And even for names like Joseph Haydn, many eye brows raise when the owner of them learn that Haydn could have been Mozart’s father, in age, and that he even could very well have been a son of the great J.S.Bach. After all, he was three year older than Christian Bach!

So history likes to put people in boxes, with big separations in between. It is an easy way of describing and in terms of publications, what’s easier and more necessary than to create chapters? One could go as far as to think that history description is based on the requirements of a good book index.

Horizontal view of history connects instead of separates

All of that is a bit unfortunate, since the real understanding of history, as I believe, comes more from a vertical time line than a horizontal one. Just think about the fact that Mozart was born six years after J.S.Bach’s death, that Haydn indeed could have been born in the Bach family and was influenced in fact a lot by CPEBach,… and so on. Learning to see the influences, the context of the time even, always opens new perspectives. And not only to understanding the composers. Also on their music this approach potentially has a huge impact. Very much in depth and detailed, one starts to realize the notation of for instance Beethoven’s Hammerklavier sonata or Mozart’s famous g Minor symphony, both ‘old fashioned’ Alla Breve, is hard to understand if one has never played a big Alla Breve Fugue of father Bach on a large historical organ. It might not be exactly the same, but on our vertical timeline, it is not light-years of separation, something in today’s performances one could easily think it is.

The Bach school: dark period in today’s music history

One of the most under lighted periods of it all for sure is the second half of the 18th century and more in specific the tradition, time and context of father Bach’s son’s and students and the second generation of Bach students. Roughly said,Daniel GottlobTürk the period of Friedemann, Emannuel and Christian Bach, Agricola, Krebs and others, ending with the second generation Bach students like Gotllob Neefe (the teacher of Beethoven by the way) and Gottlob Türk (the author of the famous 1789 book on Clavichord playing).

One such time span is the life of C.P.E.Bach, born in 1714 and who died in 1788. Let’s dive to 1771 and see how we end with the famous Tea Company.

Charles Burney and his European travels

First I must introduce you –if that still would be necessary- to Charles Burney. Burney (1726-1814) was a musician, but a writer and historian as well. He wrote several important works, one of them General History of Music and his most famous works a kind of diary in two volumes of his travels throughout Europe: The present State of Music in France and Italy (1771) and  The Present State of Music in Germany, the Netherlands and United Provinces (1773). Those books are a gold mind of information, and we’ll dedicate an entire episode/blog to them once.

Charles BurneyIn his 1773 book on the state of music in Germany and the Netherlands and United Provinces, which, by the way included Flanders- Belgium as well (well, Belgium did not exist already back then), we are witness of a Burney that hardly can wait to meet on of his absolute top idols which was Emanuel Bach. By that time, Director of Music of 5 of Hamburg’s most important churches, a top position he got after the death of his godfather Telemann a few years before. Again, we’ll be analyzing what Burney writes on that visit another time. Here we’re going to learn how musicians, at least in England, looked to music and musical style in 1771.

Richard Twining (1749-1824)

So a good friend of Charles Burney was Richard Twining, third generation owner of the by then already world famous tea company Twinings tea. That company was founded by Thomas Twining, a

Richard Twining by Charles Turner

by Charles Turner, published by Colnaghi & Co, after John James Halls, mezzotint, published 1 January 1812

brilliant business man, who bought in 1707 Tom’s coffee shop. Coffee shops at the time were the places (for men) to socialize , have breakfast – with coffee or gin, since water was often contaminated, to meet, talk and do business. There was a heavy competition amongst those coffee-shops, and Thomas Twining invested a lot in a new beverage that the East Indian Company started to import. Yes, the beverage is called tea!

Taxes were raised to absurdity on tea, to protect the coffee industry, but nevertheless, Twining smelled the opportunity to be a differentiator and set his idea for tea through. He invested in a decent product range as well as his knowledge on the product and soon became the place to go for the aristocracy. They were the only ones that could afford tea at the time, since because of the taxes, 100 gram of dry tea cost in today currency around 200 dollar…

Long story short: Richard Twining, third generation, extended the business to a world scale, selling even in America tea that still today is one of the most famous brands, the first to sell dry tea, and still operating from one of the first buildings the family started their business in. This Mr. Twining was a very good amateur musician and he and Charles Burney were rather close friends.

coffee shop 18th century

Christopher Hogwood

The correspondence of both is preserved, partly published and gives an exceptional view on how the music of C.P.E.Bach was received abroad. Part of this story by the way is based on an article Christopher Hogwood published, first in “De Clavicordio”, part 4 and later extended in C.P.E.Bach studies, directed by Annette Richards. Links to both books below. Also “the letters of C.P.E.Bach” are a most valuable source. Link also below, and a review of that book is to be found here.

No more fugues please!

So let us now see how someone as Charles Burney talked on musical taste and style. Sit tight, because you might slightly disagree with the man:

“There are Times for shewing learning & contrivance; but I think the best of all contrivances in music, is to please people of discernment & taste, without trouble. A long & laboured Fugue, recte et retro in 40 parts, may be a good entertainment for the Eyes of a Critic, but can never delight the Ears of a Man of Taste. I was no less surprised than pleased to find MR C.P.E.Bach get out of the trammels of Fugues & crowded parts in which his Father so excelled.”

Yes, you hear that right: in 1771, the art of writing fugues was a style impossible for the public to still listen to. The letters of Bach reveal us on that topic an almost long life frustration, especially on the fact that he’s not allowed to write in what he considered to be the highest form of art, writing fugues or canons. Emanuel would witness another shift in style rather soon after 1771, which opened the way for the style of composers like Haydn, Mozart, and for sure Beethoven. Although we will devote some episodes in the future to show you how all those signals of Romanticism are embedded already in the works of CPEBach.

Return of the learned counterpoint

At the end of Bach’s life by the way, he would witness another shift, not for the big public, but for a quite considerable crowd, namely the revived interest in what was called the “learned counterpoint”. Breitkopf, Emanuel’s publisher, would beg him to write fugues again, but in a letter he answers that now it’s too late. He’s not in for it anymore. He would write his testimonial work, the Aufferstehung, a large cantate, with which he wanted to be remembered and that was it. Often, I think, Emanuel must have felt to be born in the wrong time, however that doesn’t show in his music. He lived long enough to read about Mozart’s performances of his Auffestehung, which must have set him to peace with his life.

Carlophilipemanuelbachomania : The passion of Mr Twining for C.P.E.Bach

Anyway, let’s close this story with our Mr Twining.  Emanuel was a very modern salesman, had all of his sales in own hands through a network of agents. Burney was one of them, and Twining got music from the Hamburgian Bach through him. Twining was very fond of his music, so we read in 1774:

“A warmer room has, in part, restored my Piano Forte, to the use of its faculties… I had a most comfortable musical week here, with my friend. You will respect his taste when I tell you, that he is charmed with Em. Bach, even thro’ my imperfect scrambling. (…) I played: he sat with his hands over his eyes in a corner; & I heard him muttering it… (…) For my part I find the Carlophilipemanuelbachomania grow upon me so, that almost everything else is insipid me. I thank God I shall next week have two sets of him.”

And just one more enthusastic exclamation in 1775 to close this video with. Mr. Twining talking on a sonata by Emanuel:

“I throw down my glove; – tell me that anything in music can be more delicious than the fall upon the 2d. chord,- or any other possible arrangement of that chord, half so sweet, so balmy, (so God knows what) – & chuse your weapons, & your place!”.

And so we are the previlidged witnesses here of a wealthy man, enjoying the music of Emanuel so much that he bought everything he could. Emanuel had more than one such admirer, and through his exceptional skills as a business man, he was able to have most of his works printed at own costs in supply’s of 1050 copies. Many of those admirers bought several of them, as there was also a certain baron von Swieten. But that… is for another time!

Books mentioned in the video / blog post:

1. The Letters of C.P.E.Bach / Stephen L. Clark / Oxford University Press / isbn 0-19-816238-3

2. Article of Christopher Hogwood in: C.P.E.Bach studies / edited by Annette Richards / Cambridge University Press / isbn 978-0-521-12043-2

3. De Clavichordio IV / Proceedings of the International Clavichord Symposium, Magnano 8-11 September 1999 / edited by Bernard Brauchli, Susan Brauchli, Alberto Galazzo / isbn 88-900269-1-x