Carl Philipp Stamitz (1745–1801) was a German composer and the most prominent representative of the second generation of the Mannheim School. He was the eldest son of Johann Stamitz, a violinist and composer of the early classical period. Born in Mannheim, he received lessons from his father and Christian Cannabich, his father’s successor as leader of the Mannheim orchestra.
As a youth, Stamitz was employed as a violinist in the court orchestra at Mannheim. In 1770, he began travelling as a virtuoso, accepting short-term engagements, but never managing to gain a permanent position. He visited a number of European cities, living for a time in Strasbourg and London. In 1794, he gave up travelling and moved with his family to Jena in central Germany, but his circumstances deteriorated and he descended into debt and poverty, dying in 1801. Papers on alchemy were found after his death.
Stamitz wrote more than 50 symphonies, at least 38 symphonies concertantes and more than 60 concertos for violin, viola, viola d’amore, cello, clarinet, basset horn, flute, bassoon and other instruments. He also wrote a large volume of chamber music. Some of the clarinet and viola concertos that Stamitz composed are considered to be among the finest available from the period.
Stylistically, his music resembles that of Mozart or Haydn and is characterized by appealing melodies, although his writing for the solo instruments is not excessively virtuosic. The opening movements of his orchestral works, which are in sonata form, are generally followed by expressive and lyrical middle movements and final movements in the form of a rondo.