Early Years of J.C. Bach
Johann Christian Bach, also known as J.C. Bach, was born in 1735, in Leipzig, Germany. He was the youngest of Johann Sebastian Bach’s eleven sons, born when his father was a comparatively elderly man at fifty year’s old.
Unsurprisingly, as a young boy, J.C. Bach was given his formative music lessons by his famous father. However, due to his advanced years, J.S. Bach died when Johann Christian was just fifteen years old. After the death of his father, Johann Christian was taken under the wing of his elder brother, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, and the pair began to work together.
In 1756, J.C. Bach choose to move to Italy, where he was tutored by Padre Martini. While living in Italy, J.C. Bach became interested in Catholicism and eventually converted to the religion. Subsequently, in 1760, he became employed at the Milan Cathedral, where he played the organ.
Throughout this period, J.C. Bach had been composing prolifically and, by 1762, he had penned three operas. He chose to premiere these works in London, where they proved incredibly popular.
In fact, J.C. Bach was so successful in England that he became music master to Queen Charlotte. A love affair between J.C. Bach and England blossomed and the composer is, subsequently, often known as the ‘English Bach’ or the ‘London Bach’. A book entitled The English Bach Awakening by Michael Kassler and published by Ashgate, tells of J.C. Bach's great influence on England, and the music that he composed there.
As his career progressed, J.C. Bach became known for composing a wide variety of music, including cantatas, works for keyboard instruments, chamber and sacred music, choral pieces, orchestral works and operas. Some of his most popular pieces include the Harpsichord Concerto in F Minor, Tantum ergo and Grand Overture for Double Orchestra. His most famous operatic works are Temistocle and Amadis de Gaule.
Marriage to Cecilia Grassi and Later Years
In 1766, Johann Christian met a young soprano named Cecilia Grassi. Despite being eleven years his junior, Grassi and J.C. Bach quickly fell in love and were married soon after their first meeting. It is believed that their union was happy, but, sadly, their relationship did not result in any children.
During the last twenty years of his life, J.C. Bach remained in England, where he was greatly loved and respected. He eventually died, in London, at the age of forty-six, on New Year’s Day 1782.