Francis Edward Bache was born in Birmingham in September 1833, the son of a Unitarian Minister. As a child he was a keen musician, playing the piano by the age of four and later performing as a violinist in the orchestra when Mendelssohn conducted his Elijah at the Birmingham triennial festival in 1846. His parents hoped that he would go to Leipzig to study under Mendelssohn, but the German’s death in 1847 led to him going instead, in 1849, to study with Bennett in London. He followed four years there with a period of study with Moritz Hauptmann in Leipzig, meeting composers including Berlioz, Czerny and Liszt (whom his brother Walter was later to champion), and a year later moved on to Paris. Thereafter, the death of his mother in 1854, and then his continuing ill health (whisperings of which had begun as early as 1849), forced him to make England his base, albeit he hoped temporarily.
Bache returned to Leipzig, and then travelled to Italy in 1856, eager to spend time studying Italian opera in more depth. His plan to move away from German models is illustrated by a letter he wrote to a friend in 1856: ‘I have played lately much of Schumann’s music, and every successive piece increases my dislike to it in toto.’ However, his health once again intervened, and he returned to England in the summer of 1857. His hope that ‘I may live many years I believe by taking great care’ was not to be realized: he died of tuberculosis at the family home in Birmingham in August 1858.
from notes by Elizabeth French © 2007