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Karl Friedrich Abel


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 50 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Telemandolin / Sariel, Concerto Foscari
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300934 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Johann Friedrich Fasch
    Performer:  Alon Sariel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Foscari
    CD: $18.99
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  • 2.
    Flute Concertos / Various
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 95490 Release Date: 07/21/2017   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Mario Folena,  Machiko Takahashi,  Johannes Walter,  János Szebenyi  ... 
    Conductor:  Federico Guglielmo,  Roland Kieft,  Herbert Blomstedt,  János Sándor  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Arte dell'Arco,  Nordic Affect,  Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $48.99
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  • 3.
    Gamba Concertos / Fritzsch, Merseburger Hofmusik
    Label: Coviello Classics   Catalog: 91710 Release Date: 07/21/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Milling,  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Anton Raetzel,  Johann Carl Graf  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Fritzsch
    Conductor:  Michael Schönheit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Merseburger Hofmusik
    CD: $18.99
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  • 4.
    Un Italiano a Londra / Carmignola, Accademia dell'Annunciata
    Label: Musica Viva   Catalog: 118 Release Date: 07/14/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Felice Giardini,  Johann Christian Bach,  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Giuliano Carmignola
    Conductor:  Riccardo Doni
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia dell'Annunciata Riccardo Doni
    CD: $34.99
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  • 5.
    Abel: Symphonies, Op. 7 / Schneider, La Stagione Frankfurt
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 777993 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Conductor:  Michael Schneider
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Stagione Frankfurt
    CD: $17.99
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  • 6.
    Abel: Ledenburg – Viola da Gamba Sonatas & Trios / Fritzsch
    Label: Coviello Classics   Catalog: 91608 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Thomas Fritzsch,  Michael Schönheit,  Katharina Holzhey,  Eva Salonen
    CD: $18.99
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  • 7.
    Carl Friedrich Abel: The Drexel Manuscript / Wagner
    Label: Accent   Catalog: 24305 Release Date: 06/24/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Petr Wagner
    CD: $18.99
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  • 8.
    Composed to the Soul / Mields, Eckert, Hamburger Ratsmusik
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 777911 Release Date: 02/12/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Johann Adolf Hasse
    Performer:  Dorothee Mields,  Simone Eckert,  Michael Fuerst
    Conductor:  Simone Eckert
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburger Ratsmusik
    CD: $17.99
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  • 9.
    Emma Kirkby: 5 Classic Albums
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 550589 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giaches de Wert,  Robert Jones,  John Dowland,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Alan Ewing,  Evelyn Tubb,  Andrew King,  Rufus Müller  ... 
    Conductor:  Anthony Rooley,  Charles Medlam
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Consort of Musicke,  London Baroque
    CD: $24.99
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  • 10.
    Berlin Sonatas / Frey, Ghielmi
    Label: Passacaille   Catalog: 1006 Release Date: 04/28/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel,  J. C. F. Bach,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Franz Benda  ... 
    Performer:  Lorenzo Ghielmi,  Elinor Frey,  Marc Vanscheeuwijk
    CD: $18.99
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  • 11.
    Bach, Krebs, Abel / Callus, Beausejour
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 29879 Release Date: 02/17/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johann Ludwig Krebs,  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Helen Callus,  Luc Beauséjour
    CD: $18.99
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  • 12.
    Carl Friedrich Abel: 2nd Pembroke Collection
    Label: Coviello Classics   Catalog: 91411 Release Date: 09/30/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Karl Friedrich Abel,  Spoken Word
    Performer:  Thomas Fritzsch,  Michael Schönheit,  Werner Matzke
    CD: $29.99
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  • 13.
    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
    CD: $14.99
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  • 14.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 15.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 16.
    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
    CD: $17.99
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  • 17.
    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
    On sale! $16.99
    CD: $15.49
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  • 18.
    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
    CD: $9.99
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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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
    On sale! $16.98
    CD: $11.99
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  • 21.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 22.
    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
    CD: $18.99
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  • 23.
    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
    CD: $17.99
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  • 24.
    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
    On sale! $21.99
    CD: $19.99
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  • 25.
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 380680 Release Date: 06/21/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christian Ernst Graf,  Karl Friedrich Abel
    Performer:  Klaus-Dieter Brandt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  L'Arpa Festante
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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