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Abel, Carl Friedrich (22nd December 1723-20th June 1787)

He was a composer and viola da gamba player  born on 22nd December 1723 in Kothen, Germany whose father was the principal viola da gamba player in the court orchestra of Johann Sebastian Bach. It is not known where he studied but he joined Johann Adolph Hasse’s Orchestra at Dresden on the recommendation of J.S. Bach and stayed there for 20 years.

In 1759 he went to England as a chamber-musician to Queen Charlotte as well as giving a concert of his own compositions on various instruments, including the newly invented “pentachord”.  He was joined in London by Johann Christian Bach and between them they established the Bach-Abel concerts which were England’s first subscription concerts and it is through these concerts the works of Haydn received their first performance.

He was often chosen for portraits and the artist Thomas Gainsborough, who was also his friend, is known to have produced two paintings of him.

His most widely known work was his “Symphony No. 6 in E flat” which had been mistakenly given a K number and assumed it was Mozart’s instead of his.

He died on 20th June 1787 aged 63.

Cantilena Recordings:
Symphony No. 1 in G major
Symphony No. 2 in B flat major
Symphony No. 3 in D major
Symphony No.4 in F
Symphony No. 5 in F
Symphony No. 6 in E-flat Major

La Stagione Recordings
Trio in G major for Two Transverse Flutes and Basso Continuo

Here is Cantilena performing his Symphony No. 5…