Böhm was born in 1661 in Hohenkirchen, Thuringia, Germany. His father, an organist in Hohenkirchen, was his first music teacher. Böhm studied at the university in Jena.
In 1693 he settled in Hamburg, which was an important music center and one receptive to Italian music, thanks to the Hamburg Opera. Böhm worked in Hamburg for some years and, it is thought, studied there with the celebrated organistJohann Adam Reincken.
Böhm later moved to Lüneburg, a town where French music was prized and played. In 1698 he became the organist in residence at the Johanneskirche (Church of St. John) in Lüneburg, a position he held until his death in 1733.
Influence on J.S. Bach
CPE Bach stated to Forkel in 1775 that his father Johann Sebastian Bach "loved and studied the works of the Lüneburg organist Georg Böhm". J.S. sang soprano in the choir of St. Michael's Church in Lüneberg in 1700, in which city Böhm lived most of his life. In addition, the Weimarer Orgeltabulatur, a manuscript of pieces copied by the young J.S. Bach, shows that Bach was a pupil of Böhm for a period of time.
Böhm is mainly known for his compositions for the pipe organ and harpsichord (primarily preludes, fugues, and partitas). Many of his works were designed with flexibility of instrument in mind: a particular piece could be played on the organ, the harpsichord, or the clavichord, depending on the situation in which the performer found himself. Böhm's music is notable for its use of the stylus phantasticus, a style of playing based on improvisation.
Böhm's most important contribution to North German keyboard music is the chorale partita, a large-scale composition consisting of several variations on a particular chorale melody. He effectively invented the genre, writing several partitas of varying lengths and on diverse tunes. Later composers also took up the genre, most notably Johann Sebastian Bach. Böhm's chorale partitas feature sophisticated figuration in several voices over the harmonic structure of the chorale. His partitas generally have a rustic character and can be successfully performed on either the organ or the harpsichord.