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Karl Friedrich Abel

Biography

Born: December 22, 1723; Cöthen, Germany   Died: June 20, 1787; London, England  
Carl Friedrich Abel was the last of the great viola da gamba players before the instrument went into a period of a century and a half of dust and silence. Abel was born into a dynasty of German musical royalty; his grandfather, Clamor Heinrich Abel, was a Hanover court musician and composer. His father, Christian Ferdinand Abel, was a close friend of Johann Sebastian Bach's in Cöthen; it is possible that the viola da gamba part in the Read more Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 was written for him. Carl Friedrich Abel was born the year the Bach family left for Leipzig, and when his own father died in 1737, the 13-year-old Abel went to Leipzig to stay with the Bachs. Although his main instrument was already the viola da gamba, by this time Abel could already play the harpsichord and cello well; as time progressed, Abel would add many other instruments to his retinue. The year 1745 found Abel in Dresden, as a member of the court orchestra under Johann Adolf Hasse; a dispute with Hasse is believed to have earned Abel his ouster from this body in about 1755-1756. In the winter of 1758-1759, Abel arrived in London where he spent the rest of his days, with the exception of a period in the 1780s when Abel visited his native land a final time. Newly arrived in London shortly thereafter was Johann Sebastian Bach's youngest son, Johann Christian Bach. By 1764, both men were working as chamber musicians in the court of Queen Charlotte, and in 1765, they presented their first joint concert at the Carlisle House in London, thereby establishing the Bach/Abel concert series, the forerunner to modern public concerts sold by subscription. Bach and Abel would alternate leading the orchestra and likewise shared keyboard duties; at other times, Abel would play cello in the orchestra and, in the early seasons, played solo pieces on the gamba as well. They were immensely popular and never more so than in 1775 when the concert series moved to the newly installed rooms in Hanover Square. However, competition from similar series began a downward trend for the Bach/Abel concerts and in 1778, they moved back to the Carlisle House.

From about 1780, Abel was continuing the series without Bach, who was attempting to combat his declining health and fortune through throwing all his efforts into opera productions and publishing; he died in 1782 at age 46. Later that year, Abel decided to take a vacation and revisit old family and friends in Germany; he did not resume the concert series until his return to London in 1785. As fate would have it, Abel did not long outlast his business partner; his tendency toward alcoholism probably contributed to Abel's relatively early demise at age 64 in 1787. Carl Friedrich Abel was held in high esteem throughout British society; he was friends with Queen Charlotte; Sir Edward Walpole; Thomas Erskine, Earl of Kelly; author Laurence Sterne; and Elizabeth, Countess of Pembroke. Some of them had been Abel's students; Thomas Gainsborough painted two portraits of him.

Abel left behind nearly 30 symphonies and solo concertos for flute, cello, and violin and a great deal of chamber music, military marches, and a substantial output of chamber music for the bass viol. Much of this music was written to meet professional obligations -- concerts, publishing contracts and the like, many of his publications were designed for use by amateurs. Abel's solo viola da gamba music, preserved in two manuscripts once belonging to the Countess of Pembroke, present a very different view of the composer, revealing Abel to have been a highly personal, emotionally effective and disciplined musical voice; a true "son" of Johann Sebastian Bach, despite not being related to him by blood. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 45 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Flute Music By Bach's Students
    Label: Glossa   Catalog: 80802 Release Date: 07/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Philipp Kirnberger,  Johann Goldberg,  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Johann Ludwig Krebs  ... 
    Performer:  Wilbert Hazelzet,  Jaap ter Linden,  Jacques Ogg
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  • 2.
    A Solo / Paolo Pandolfo
    Label: Glossa   Catalog: 30403 Release Date: 06/24/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paolo Pandolfo,  Diego Ortiz,  William Corkine,  Tobias Hume  ... 
    Performer:  Paolo Pandolfo
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  • 3.
    La Bellezza - Die Schonheit
    Label: Amati   Catalog: 2505 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nicolas Hotman,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Karl Friedrich Abel  ... 
    Performer:  Dietmar Berger
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  • 4.
    Music For Viola Da Gamba
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1313464 Release Date: 08/13/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Diego Ortiz,  Johannes Schenck,  Christopher Simpson  ... 
    Performer:  Wieland Kuijken
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  • 5.
    Voyages - Reisen
    Label: Tyx Art   Catalog: 12016 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Jean-Baptiste Forqueray,  Machy (Demachy),  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Jakob David Rattinger
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  • 6.
    Der Entdecker Mit Der Klarinette
    Label: Acanta/Pilz   Catalog: 233355 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Franz Anton Hoffmeister,  Franz Schubert,  Franz Paul Lachner,  Louis Spohr  ... 
    Performer:  Dieter Klöcker,  Helen Donath,  Klaus Donath,  Karl-Otto Hartmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Jaap Schröder,  Klaus Donath
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consortium Classicum
    CD: $24.99
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  • 7.
    Sounds From The King's Chamber
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3229 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Silvius Leopold Weiss,  Gottfried Meusel,  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Adam Falkenhagen
    Performer:  Lutz Kirchhof,  Martina Kirchhof
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Kirchhof
    CD: $17.99
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  • 8.
    Abel En Norvege
    Label: Flora   Catalog: 1307 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Robinson,  Norwegian Anonymous,  Felice Giardini,  Oistein Nilson  ... 
    Performer:  Elisabeth Seitz
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  • 9.
    Abel: Music For Flute & Strings / Georgia Browne, Nordic Affect
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94304 Release Date: 02/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Georgia Browne
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nordic Affect
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  • 10.
    C. P. E. Bach, F. Abel: Sonatas For Viola Da Gamba /  Rebeka Ruso, Sebastian Wienand
    Label: Pan Classics   Catalog: 10252 Release Date: 11/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Rebeka Rusó,  Sebastian Wienand
    CD: $18.99
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  • 11.
    Viola Sonatas
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1379 Release Date: 03/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Flackton,  George Frideric Handel,  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Kathryn Steely,  Vincent Devries,  Adrienne Steely
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  • 12.
    A Golden Treasury Of Georgian Music
    Label: Amon Ra   Catalog: 66 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thomas Augustine Arne,  John Stanley,  James Hook,  Karl Friedrich Abel  ... 
    Performer:  Lucie Skeaping,  John Potter,  John Toll,  Richard Wistreich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Broadside Band,  London Baroque,  The City Waites
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  • 13.
    English Music Of The 18th Century / The London Baroque
    Label: Amon Ra   Catalog: 14 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Stanley,  Thomas Augustine Arne,  Charles Avison,  Karl Friedrich Abel  ... 
    Performer:  John Toll
    Conductor:  Charles Medlam
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
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  • 14.
    eVIOLution / Fernando Marin
    Label: Quartz Records   Catalog: 2075 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Diego Ortiz,  Antonio De Cabezón,  Alfonso Ferrabosco,  Jean de Sainte-Colombe  ... 
    Performer:  Fernando [Lyra Viol] Marin
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  • 15.
    The Trio Sonata In 18th-century England / London Baroque
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1765 Release Date: 08/31/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  (Earl of Kelly) Erskine,  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Thomas Augustine Arne,  William Boyce  ... 
    Performer:  Steven Devine,  Charles Medlam,  Ingrid Seifert,  Richard Gwilt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
    CD: $21.49
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  • 16.
    C.F. Abel & J.C. Bach: Chamber Music / Il Gardellino
    Label: Accent   Catalog: 24221 Release Date: 05/25/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Christian Bach,  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Vittorio [Viola da gamba] Ghielmi,  Vittorio Ghielmi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Gardellino
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  • 17.
    Gambomania / Ralph Rousseau
    Label: Challenge   Catalog: 72334 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tobias Hume,  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Johannes Schenck,  Louis d Caix d'Hervelois  ... 
    Performer:  Ralph Rousseau
    On sale! $17.98
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  • 18.
    Destination London - J.C. Bach, Stamitz, Bertie, Haydn / Hazelzet, Kernig, Moonen
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 115222 Release Date: 07/14/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Johann Christian Bach,  Carl Stamitz  ... 
    Performer:  Barbara Kernig,  Bernadetta Verhagen,  Wilbert Hazelzet,  Marion Moonen
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  • 19.
    Franz Xaver Hammer: Sonatas For Viola Da Gamba
    Label: Christophorus   Catalog: 77303 Release Date: 04/28/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Xaver Hammer,  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Simone Eckert
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburger Ratsmusik
    CD: $18.99
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  • 20.
    Label: Glossa   Catalog: 920410 Release Date: 02/24/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Paolo Pandolfo
    CD: $18.99
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  • 21.
    Abel, Bach; Telemann: Suites En Ré / Marianne Muller
    Label: Zig Zag   Catalog: 40402 Release Date: 12/31/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Georg Philipp Telemann
    Performer:  Marianne Muller
    CD: $16.99
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  • 22.
    Mr Abel's Fine Airs / Susanne Heinrich
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 67628 Release Date: 10/09/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Susanne Heinrich
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  • 23.
    Destination London - J.c. Bach,  Et Al / Hazelzet, Et Al
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 1798 Release Date: 09/18/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Johann Christian Bach,  Carl Stamitz
    Performer:  Bernadetta Verhagen,  Marion Moonen,  Wilbert Hazelzet,  Barbara Kernig
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  • 24.
    Solo Viola Da Gamba / John Dornenburg
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2713 Release Date: 05/31/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  August Kühnel,  Jean de Sainte-Colombe,  Marin Marais,  Karl Friedrich Abel  ... 
    Performer:  John Dornenburg
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  • 25.
    Music For Lord Abingdon / The Hanoverian Ensemble
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1099 Release Date: 09/28/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel,  André Modeste Grétry,  Johann Christian Bach,  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hanoverian Ensemble
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