6th April 1660
5th June 1722
Geising, present-day Saxony, Germany
Johann Kuhnau was a German polymath: known primarily as composer today, he was also active as novelist, translator, lawyer, and music theorist, being able late in life to combine these activities with the duties of his official post of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, which he occupied for 21 years. Much of his music, including operas, masses, and other large-scale vocal works, is lost. His reputation today rests on a set of programmatic keyboard sonatas published in 1700, in which each sonata depicted in detail a particular story from the Bible. After his death, Kuhnau was succeeded as Thomaskantor by Johann Sebastian Bach.