Born: Sept. 2, 1661- Hohenkirchen, Thuringia, Germany
Died: May 18, 1733 – Luneburg, Germany
Böhm was a prominent German Baroque organist and composer who was born in Thuringia, where the Bach families lived. Like the Bachs, he too was born into a musical family, and was taught music in his early years by his father. He composed organ, harpsichord, and choral works, and C. P. E. Bach wrote that his father J. S. Bach “loved and studied the works of the Luneburg organist Georg Böhm.” Since J. S. Bach studied music in Luneburg, where Bohm was organist at the Johanneskirche (Church of St. John) from 1698 until his death in 1733, it is possible Bach knew or received traning with Böhm.
This Baroque period of German history produced many great organists and composers, who contributed to new musical forms, enriched by French and Italian operas as well as the Lutheran chorales. Musicians were dependent upon the church and the aristocracy for their positions as organists, choir masters, teachers and composers. New music was constantly in demand, and the patronage system imposed an iron grip upon musicians. They literally sang (and composed) for their supper, and expectations were extremely high. Composers were expected to produce and perform new works almost weekly, and there has probably never been another period where so much contemporary music was heard and appreciated. New music was the rule, not the exception. Thus we have an incredibly rich heritage of music from this period.
Hear Georg Böhm’s Prelude and Fugue in C-dur on a magnificent Baroque organ: