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German organist and composer of the baroque era one of the greatest and most productive geniuses in the history of Western music Bach was born on March 21 1685 in Eisenach Thringen into a family that over seven generations produced at least 53 prominent musicians from Veit Bach to Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach Johann Sebastian received his first musical instruction from his father Johann Ambrosius a town musician When his father died he went to live and study with his elder brother Johann Christoph an organist in Ohrdruf Early Years In 1700 Bach began to earn his own living as a chorister at the Church of Saint Michael in Lneburg In 1703 he became a violinist in the chamber orchestra of Prince Johann Ernst of Weimar but later that year he moved to Arnstadt where he became church organist In October 1705 Bach secured a one-month leave of absence in order to study with the renowned Danish-born German organist and composer Dietrich Buxtehude who was then in Lbeck and whose organ music greatly influenced Bachs The visit was so rewarding to Bach that he overstayed his leave by two months He was criticized by the church authorities not only for this breach of contract but also for the extravagant flourishes and strange harmonies in his organ accompaniments to congregational singing He was already too highly respected however for either objection to result in his dismissal In 1707 he married a second cousin Maria Barbara Bach and went to Mlhausen as organist in the Church of Saint Blasius He went back to Weimar the next year as organist and violinist at the court of Duke Wilhelm Ernst and remained there for the next nine years becoming concertmaster of the court orchestra in 1714 In Weimar he composed about 30 cantatas including the well-known funeral cantata Gods Time Is the Best and also wrote organ and harpsichord works He began to travel throughout
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