Bach, Johann Christian


Bach, Johann Christian

The Periodical Overture in 8 Parts No. 1, Gli uccellatori (edited by Barnaby Priest and Alyson McLamore / new print)



Johann Christian Bach – The Periodical Overture in 8 Parts I (Gli uccellatori)

Published by Robert Bremner at the Harp and Hautboy, opposite Somerset-House, in the Strand
Issued: 30 June 1763; price 2 shillings
Source: Henry Watson Music Library – Courtesy of Manchester Libraries,
Information and Archives, Manchester City Council: BR580Ba75
Editors: Barnaby Priest & Alyson McLamore

Introduction, Historical Background and catalogue > HERE


Robert Bremner (c.1713–1789) launched his new series of Periodical Overtures by featuring the work of a rising star in London: the twenty-seven-year old Johann Christian Bach (1735–1782). Bach’s career took a circuitous path before he met the Scottish publisher. The youngest son of the great Lutheran musician Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Christian had been only fifteen when his father died in 1750, so he moved from Leipzig to Berlin to live with his half-brother Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, who oversaw Johann Christian’s music instruction for the next five years. Before he had turned twenty, however, Johann Christian took a step that no member of the Bach family had ever taken: he went to Italy. There, he was surrounded by opera—a genre never produced by either his father or his half-brother. In fact, Charles Burney later published his regret that neither of the older Bachs “had been fortunately employed to compose for the stage and the public of great capitals” since he believed that that would have led them to write “in a style more popular, and generally intelligible and pleasing.”

Christoph Wolff and Stephen Roe, “Bach, Johann (John) Christian,” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 2001), Vol. 2: 413–4.

The younger Bach, in contrast, was increasingly drawn to opera. He contributed arias to various pasticcio entertainments, and in 1760, he crafted a new overture for the Turin production of the opera Gli uccellatori (The Bird-Catchers) by the Bohemian composer Florian Leopold Gassmann (1729–1774). The dramma giocoso had premiered a year earlier, in Venice, and had also enjoyed a staging in Milan in late 1759. It is unknown why Gassmann’s own overture was not retained for the Turin performance, which opened on 1 September 1760.

Turin offered even more opportunities for Bach: Artaserse, his first operatic commission as sole composer, premiered less than three months later. This successful launch led to subsequent Italian productions as well as an invitation in mid-1762 to write two operas for the King’s Theatre in London. Bach asked for a year’s leave from his employment as second organist at Milan Cathedral, and he made his way to England in July 1762—the same year that Bremner was opening the London branch of his music publishing business. …

read more … (German preface not available)

> Historical Background & Catalogue

Score Data

Score Number


Special Edition

Periodical Overtures Edition






210 x 297 mm


New print

Performance Materials


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