Johann Christian Bach (1735 -- 1782) was a composer of
the Classical era, the eleventh child and youngest son
of Johann Sebastian Bach. He is sometimes referred to
as "the London Bach" or "the English Bach", due to his
time spent living in the British capital, where he came
to be known as John Bach. He is noted for influencing
the concerto style of Mozart.
Johann Christian Bach was born to Johann Sebastian and
Anna Magdalena Bach in Leipzig, Germany. His
distinguished father was already 50 at the time of his
birth, which would perhaps contribute to the sharp
differences between his music and that of his father.
Even so, his father first instructed him in music and
that instruction continued until his death. After his
father's death, when Johann Christian was 15, he worked
with his second-oldest half brother Carl Philipp
Emanuel Bach, who was twenty-one years his senior and
considered at the time to be the most musically gifted
of Bach's sons.
He enjoyed a promising career, first as a composer then
as a performer playing alongside Carl Friedrich Abel,
the notable player of the viola da gamba. He composed
cantatas, chamber music, keyboard and orchestral works,
operas and symphonies.
Johann Christian Bach's father died when Johann
Christian was only fifteen. This is perhaps one reason
why it is difficult to find points of similarity
between the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and that of
Johann Christian. By contrast, the piano sonatas of
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Christian's much
older half brother, tend to invoke certain elements of
his father at times, especially with regard to the use
of counterpoint. (C.P.E. was 36 at the time J.S.
Johann Christian's highly melodic style differentiates
his works from those of his family. He composed in the
Galante style incorporating balanced phrases, emphasis
on melody and accompaniment, without too much
contrapuntal complexity. The Galante movement opposed
the intricate lines of Baroque music, and instead
placed importance on fluid melodies in periodic
phrases. It preceded the classical style, which fused
the Galante aesthetics with a renewed interest in
Although originally written for Violin and Harpsichord,
I created this arrangement for String Quartet (2
Violins, Viola & Cello).