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The career of Johann Sebastian Bach is generally associated with the city where he spent the last and longest part of his life, Leipzig. There he was responsible for directing music in two churches and in the Collegium Musicum, and for the education of the boys of the Thomasschule. But before that he had occupied a variety of functions. He was organist at Arnstadt and Mühlhausen at the time when he made journeys of musical discovery to Lüneburg and Lübeck. At the ducal court of Weimar, having begun as a lackey and violinist, he became organist and Konzertmeister. When he wanted to leave the service of the Duke of Weimar, his employer tried to persuade him to stay by putting him in jail – but in vain!

When he entered the service of the Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen, whose court was Calvinist, he abandoned the organ and sacred music to concentrate on instrumental music. In each of his places of residence, his musical language changed according to the requirements of his functions. But Bach gives the impression that he always thought the grass would be greener in the next field! He tried his luck for jobs in Hamburg and Dresden, and met King Frederick II of Prussia in Potsdam. His itinerary is presented chronologically in this anthology of the Kantor’s works.