The German composer Johann Christian Bach was the youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Anna Magdalena Wilcken. His father and his half-brother Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach instructed him in music, and he consequently enjoyed a promising career as a composer and performer. He is referred to as both ‘the Italian Bach’ and ‘the London Bach’.
From 1754 till 1762 Johann Christian lived and studied in Italy, where he became organist of the Milan cathedral and devoted much time to the composition of sacred music. He also became familiar with the Italian operas, which incited him to compose his own operas, amongst others Artaserse, Catone in Utica and Alessandro nell’India.
In 1762 Johann Christian established himself in London, the center of European opera, where three of his operas premiered that year. He was one of the first to found public concerts there, together with the gamba player and composer Karl Friedrich Abel. These so-called Bach-Abel concerts continued to took place until 1781. He also met Mozart in London, who was then eight years old. Mozart admired his music and arranged three of his sonatas into keyboard concertos. For a duration of twenty years Johann Christian was the most popular musician of London. However, at the end of his life the popularity of his music began to fade.
Just like his father, Johann Christian left a considerable oeuvre, comprising of more than 90 symphonies, some 30 sonatas, about 40 concerti and 14 operas.