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Carl Friedrich Abel

Carl Friedrich Abel by Thomas Gainsborough

(1723 - 1787)

Carl Friedrich Abel (b. December 22, 1723 in Cöthen) was one of the most renowned viola da gamba players of his day. It was probably for Carl's father, Christian Ferdinand Abel, that Johann Sebastian Bach composed his famous solo cello suites.

Following his education at the Thomasschule under J.S. Bach, he initially took a post under Johann Adolf Hasse in the Dresden court orchestra, and remained there for a decade before traveling to London 1759. There he met and eventually shared a room with Johann Christian Bach.

This relationship flourished during the next twenty years and J.C. Bach and Abel presented a series of subscription concerts to the London public at which Haydn's symphonies were first performed. Upon J.C. Bach's death in 1785, Abel continued his association with the London concerts on and off until his death in London on June 20, 1787.

Many of Abel's symphonies, overtures, string quartets, concertos and sonatas were highly regarded in their day and widely published. As a virtuoso gambist, his (unpublished) chamber works for the viola da gamba are among the most developed and interesting of his compositions.

Recommended Recordings

Chamber Music

CPO 999209-2
6 Solo Sonatas for Viola da Gamba/ARTA Records F10046-2
Petr Hejny (viola ga gamba)
Sonata for 2 Cellos & Harpsichord; 6 Pieces for Viola da Gamba; 2 Trios for 2 Flutes & Continuo; Flute Sonatas #5 & 6/CPO 999209-2
Rainer Zipperling (viola ga gamba)/La Stagione Frankfurt
Sonatas for Keyboard, Violin & Cello, Op. 2/Hungaroton HCD31951
Miklós Spányi (tangent piano), László Paulik (violin), Balázs Maté (cello)
Pièces Pour Baryton à Cordes/Lyrinx 169
Philippe Foulon (baryton)
Sonates et Pièces pour Baryton à Cordes/Lyrinx 150
Philippe Foulon (baryton)/Lachrimae Consort


Academy Sound & Vision CDDCA1178
6 Flute Concertos, Op. 6 #1-6/Academy Sound & Vision CDDCA1178
Edward Beckett (flute)/Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
4 Flute Concertos, Op. 6 #1-3,5/CPO 999208-2
Karl Kaiser (flute), Michael Schneider/La Stagione
6 Piano Concertos, Op. 11 #1-6/CPO 999892-2
Sabine Bauer (piano), Michael Schneider/La Stagione


Chandos CHAN8648
6 Symphonies, Op. 7/Chandos CHAN8648
Adrian Shepherd/Cantilena
6 Symphonies, Op. 10/CPO 999207-2
Michael Schneider/La Stagione Frankfurt
6 Symphonies, Op. 17/CPO 999214-2
Anthony Halstead/Hanover Band