Composer. The youngest surviving son of Johann Sebastian Bach, he was an early leader of the Classical movement. He was known as "The London Bach" for the many years he spent in the English capital. Bach was born in Leipzig, Germany. He studied music with his father, who wrote Book II of the "Well-Tempered Clavier" (1744) for his use, and in Berlin with his half-brother, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. In 1754 he went to Italy for further instruction; while there he converted to Catholicism. Bach was named organist of the Milan Cathedral in 1760, but his real interest was in the theatre and his first opera, "Artaserse", was successfully performed in Turin that year. He then received a commission for a music drama from London's King's Theatre. The result, "Orione" (1763), so pleased the Royal Family that he was appointed Music Master to Queen Charlotte. Bach settled permanently in London, where he took over the recently-deceased Handel's position as England's most famous composer. During the early part of his stay he became friends with the young Mozart, who was there as a touring child prodigy. Along with violist Karl Friedrich Abel, he also established the Bach-Abel Concerts, the first instrumental concert series that was consistently popular with the English public. His final serious opera, "La Clemenza di Scipione" (1778), stayed in the repertoire for many years. Bach lived extravagantly in London and when he died suddenly at the age of 46, he left debts amounting to over five thousand pounds. Only the Queen's intervention prevented his body from being claimed by his creditors. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Pancras in London, though the exact location is unknown and he was entered into the church records as "John Christian Back". Long overshadowed by his father's reputation, Bach's music is seldom performed today and he is of interest primarily to historians. He was the only one of J.S. Bach's sons to write operas in the Italian style. He was one of the first composers to favor the piano over the harpsichord in his works, and he helped introduce the clarinet to the orchestra. The polished refinement and sensitivity to color in his music had a decisive influence on Mozart's style. Bach wrote over 500 compositions, including 13 operas, some 48 symphonies, 30 concertos, and much chamber and vocal music.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards