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Johann Christian Bach

The 11th son of J.S.Bach and the youngest to live to maturity, Johann Christian received his early musical training from his father, than whom music has spawned no greater genius. When Christian was fourteen his father died. Thereupon he studied with his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel. Four years later he left for Italy, where he continued his studies and won a patron. Eventually he became organist at the cathedral of Milan and began to compose operas, economically the most rewarding of compositional forms in those days. In 1762 he emigrated to London, his home until his death 20 years later. The “London” Bach achieved immediate renown in England, and within two years was appointed music master to the Queen. Bach departed from the musical style of his father and older brothers, ranticipating and indeed contributing to the development of the so-called “classical” era. His tendencies include a new emphasis on emotional expression, a shift from ecclesiastical to concert-hall forms and genres, and a conscious featuring of virtuoso instrumental registration. His work embodies the “style galant” of the last half of the 18th Century.Besides his many operas and chamber compositions, Bach wrote around 90 symphonies, productivity akin to that of Haydn. Had Johann Christian’s father J.S.Bach never existed, Johann Christian’s place in musical history would be secure. So profound and excellent were his talents and knowledge, the child prodigy W.A.Mozart was brought to him in London in 1764 for instruction. Mozart acknowledged his debt to his mentor by using several of Bach’s piano sonatas as the bases for his own piano concertos.