Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach on 21 March 1685 and died in Leipzig on 28 July 1750. He was a German musician and composer and a renowned choir and orchestra conductor.

He was the most outstanding member of the most prolific musical family of all time, but he spent his entire career in his home region in central Germany, working for small towns, minor princedoms and eventuality the Leipzig city council, which treated him with scant respect: he was never offered a post commensurate with his genius or his importance in the history of western music even though there were some German sovereigns (Frederick the Great was one) who showed great respect for the Leipzig Cantor.

Orphaned when he was only ten, his initial musical training by his father Johann Ambrosius Bach was continued by his elder brother Johann Christoph Bach, but he was also enthusiastically self-taught, endlessly copying and studying works by his predecessors and his contemporaries, raising his science of composition and especially counterpoint to an unprecedented level unsurpassed to this day. Johann Sebastian Bach was a virtuoso on several instruments – the violin and the viola but above all the harpsichord and the organ. Everybody who heard him was full of admiration for his exceptional talent on the two keyboard instruments; he claimed that he could sight-read anything and could improvise a three-part fugue at sight. And he was widely acknowledged as an expert in instrument-making.

Bach wrote much of his music for the Lutheran Church. From 1723 until his death, he was Cantor at Saint Thomas’s Church in Leipzig. He composed his many cantatas for performance at Sunday services at all liturgical seasons except Lent.

Bach was an eclectic musician combining elements of several musical traditions (Germanic countries, France and Italy). He did not create new musical forms of his own but worked in all the forms in common use in his day except for the opera and developed them all. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers, of all time if not the greatest.

(text adapted from Wikipedia)