These six piano sonatas were written during the composer’s London years, after he had collected much valuable experience in Italy. The so-called “London” Bach devoted himself intensively to the possibilities afforded by the newly-developed “Hammerflügel,” and frequently performed in public on the instrument. His Sonatas opp. 5 and 17, all much esteemed by Mozart, have many characteristics of the classical piano sonata. The op. 17 collection was first published in 1774, and was already being reprinted in various countries during the composer’s lifetime.
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Johann Christian Bach’s Six Sonates pour le Clavecin ou le Piano Forte (first edition), op. 17, were written during his London period. Bach, who had already achieved success in Italy as a composer of operas and church music, increasingly cultivated chamber music following his removal to London in 1762. In his piano sonatas he probed the possibilities of the newly developed … more
About the composer
Johann Christian Bach
Youngest and (in the eighteenth century) most famous son of Johann Sebastian; he was a well-known composer of operas and played a significant role in the concert life of London. He composed in all genres, his immense oeuvre representing the most important compositional trends of his age in its transition to Classical composition.
|1735||Born in Leipzig on September 5. His first music lessons probably from his father. After the latter’s death in 1750 he moves to Potsdam to the home of his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel, who continues teaching him.|
|from 1755||He embarks for Italy to continue his studies; he takes lessons with Martini in Bologna, composes primarily sacred music, and also writes arias and overtures for operatic productions in Milan.|
|1757||He converts to Catholicism.|
|1760||Employed as second organist at Milan cathedral. Performances of his operas in the most important cities in Italy: including “Artaserse” in Turin in 1760, “Catone in Utica” in 1761, and “Alessandro nell’Indie” in 1762, both in Naples.|
|1762||He moves to London, where he will live the rest of his life as a freelance composer.|
|from 1764||Founds an extremely successful and, in the history of the concert, significant concert series with the composer and gamba player Carl Friedrich Abel (the “Bach-Abel Concerts”). Composes symphonies, sinfonie concertanti, and solo concerti. Also operas, pasticci, and transcriptions for the King’s Theatre, including the serenata “Endimione” in 1772, the opera “La clemenza di Scipione” in 1778. Premiere in Mannheim of “Temistocle” in 1772 and of “Lucio Silla” in 1775.|
|1779||Premiere in Paris of his only tragédie lyrique, “Amadis de Gaule,” to little acclaim.|
|1782||Death in London on January 1.|