Lived: 1685 – 1750
Mostly in: Eisenach, Weimar, Leipzig
Best Known For: Brandenburg Concertos, cello suites,  St Matthew Passion, organ works
Similar To: Handel, Telemann, Buxtehude, Vivaldi

In June 1723, Johann Sebastian Bach took up the baton of one of the most prestigious musical positions in Germany: Cantor of the Lutheran church of St Thomas in Leipzig and director of the town’s civic music – a post he was to retain for the rest of his life. Leipzig was a vibrant cultural and commercial centre, with an outstanding musical tradition, an opera house, a university, innumerable publishers and booksellers, and a cosmopolitan outlook thanks to the famous international trade fairs that drew merchants and goods from all over Europe, Africa, America and Asia. A popular song of the time sings of its splendour: “Here must be an angelic life! Here it must be an Eden!”

With its parks and elegant houses, the city must have appealed to the 38-year-old...