Violin History & Timeline
The Roots of Famous Violinists
Johann (John) Christian (the “London” Bach), 11th and
youngest surviving son
of Johann Sebastian; b. Leipzig, Sept. 5,1735; d. London, Jan. 1, 1782. He
received early instruction in music from his father, after whose death in
1750 he went to Berlin to study with his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel. In
1754 he went to Italy, where he continued his studies with Padre Martini;
he also found a patron in Count Agostino Litta of Milan. He converted to
the Roman Catholic faith in order to be able to obtain work, and became
one of the organists at the Cathedral in Milan (1760—62); he also traveled
throughout the country and composed several successful operas during his
stay in Italy. In 1762 he went to England; his highly acclaimed opera
Ortone was given its premiere in London on
Feb. 19, 1763; in 1764
he was appointed music master to the Queen. From 1764 to 1781 he gave,
together with C.F. Abel, a series of London concerts. When child Mozart
was taken to London in 1764, J.C. Bach took great interest in him and
improvised with him at the keyboard; Mozart retained a lifelong affection
for him; he used 3 of IC. Bach’s piano sonatas as thematic material for
his piano concertos. IC. Bach was a highly prolific composer; he wrote
about 90 syms., several piano concertos, 6 quintets, a Piano Sextet,
violin sonatas, and numerous piano sonatas. In his music he adopted the
style galant of the 2nd half of the 18th century, with an emphasis on
expressive “affects” and brilliance of instrumental display. He thus
totally departed from the ideals of his father, and became historically a
precursor of the Classical era as exemplified by the works of Mozart.
Although he was known mainly as an instrumental composer, IC. Bach also
wrote successful operas, most of them to Italian librettos; among them
were Artaserse (Turin, Dec. 26, 1760); Catone in Utica
(Naples, Nov. 4, 1761); Alessandro nell’ Indie (Naples, Jan. 20,
1762); Orione, ossia Diana vendicata (London, Feb. 19.
(London, May 7,1763); Adriano in Siria (London, Jan. 26,1765);
Carattaco (London, Feb. 14, 1767); Tern istocle (Mannheim, Nov.
4,1772); Lucia Silla (Mannheim, Nov. 4, 1774); La clemenza di
Scipione (London, April 4, 1778); Amadis de Gaule (Paris, Dec.
14, 1779). See E. Warburton, general ed.,J.C. B., 1735—1782: The
Collected Works (48 vols., N.Y., 1988—90).