Personalities | Johann Christian Bach | Classical Era | Classical
(Yo’-han Krest’-yan Bakh) 1735–82
J. S. Bach’s youngest son was known as the London Bach. Earlier he was the Milan Bach: after studying with his father and his half-brother Carl Philipp Emanuel in Berlin, he had gone to Italy, studying in Bologna, embracing Roman Catholicism and becoming organist at Milan Cathedral, and composing operas for theatres in both Turin and Naples. In 1762 he travelled to London in order to write operas and there he settled as music master to Queen Charlotte. Bach soon settled into the courtly life and became a fashionable teacher. His instrumental music won great favour and acclaim at the concerts he arranged with his friend the composer Abel, and from here they became more widely known.
Later J. C. Bach wrote operas for Mannheim and Paris, but his reputation enjoyed only a relatively brief moment in the spotlight, and his renown soon faded. This particular Bach died young, in straitened circumstances.
His music – piano sonatas (he was an early exponent of the fortepiano), quintets and other chamber works, concertos (for piano and for groups of instruments) and many symphonies – is characterized by its warmth, its elegance and its clarity of design. The fusion of German and Italian elements, and his desire to write pleasingly for London audiences, produced music of a unique grace and polish that much influenced the young Mozart.
Quintets, op. 11, Camerata of the 18th Century (MDG Gold)
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