Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is the best-known member of a large musical family. In his own lifetime he was known mainly as a great performer and improvisor on keyboard instruments, but since the mid-19th century he has been recognized as one of the great composers.
Early in his career, Bach was employed by churches in Arnstadt and Mühlhausen, then at the court of Weimar. During these periods he wrote most of the major organ works and a few early cantatas. Most of Bach's chamber music dates from his years at Köthen, where he served as Kapellmeister to the court of Prince Leopold.
In 1723 Bach became the Kantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig. He spent several years focused on sacred music, composing over 200 cantatas and the great Passions. In 1729 he took over direction of the Leipzig collegium musicum, with whom he performed many of his orchestral works. During the 1730s Bach started the Clavier-Übung and the Well-Tempered Clavier, two major collections of keyboard works. More great works followed in the last decade of his life: the Goldberg Variations, the Musical Offering, the last parts of the Mass in B Minor, and the Art of the Fugue.
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