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Johann Christian Bach

Johann Christian Bach (17351782), the eleventh son of Johann Sebastian Bach, was born at Leipzig, Germany, and on the death of his father in 1750 became the pupil of his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach at Berlin. In 1754 he went to Italy where he studied under Giovanni Baptista Martini, and from 1760 to 1762 held the post of organist at Milan cathedral, for which he wrote two Masseses, a Requiem, a Te Deum and other works. Having also gained some reputation as a composer of opera, he was in 1762 invited to London and there spent the rest of his life. For twenty years he was the most popular musician in England, his dramatic works, produced at the King’s theatre, were received with great cordiality, he was appointed music master to the Queen, and his concerts, given in partnership with Abel at the Hanover Square rooms, soon became the most fashionable of public entertainments. He is of some historical interest as the first composer who preferred the pianoforte to the older keyed-instruments; but his works, though elegant and pleasing, were ephemeral in character and have been largely forgotten.

A full account of J. C. Bach’s career is given in the fourth volume of Burney’s History of Music.

Adapted from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.