J.C. Bach's life still presents his biographers with many unanswered questions. The last years, in particular, are relatively obscure, despite Bach's celebrity (though in decline), in London musical circles. Apart from newspaper advertisements recording his concert and operatic activity, there is little contemporary documentation of his last three or four years in the city. Bach's latest surviving letter dates from 1778, his last musical autograph from about 1776. His will, dated 14 November 1781, was until now the only known document directly associated with him from his last three years. 1 Even the composer's bank account, so full of 96transactions in earlier years, reveals little or no financial activity after 1779, when it became overdrawn. 2 Mrs Papendiek's description of Bach's declining years is completely unreliable, written probably 50 years after the composer's death and published in an edited form 50 years after that. 3 From the available evidence, it would seem that the success of Bach's early years was over: his role as the leading symphonist, opera composer and keyboard performer had been usurped by others and his finances seriously depleted. Bach was down, but not out.