Johann Paul Aegidius Martini (originally Schwartzendorf) was born in the Bavarian city of Freistadt on August 31, 1741. His father was a talented organist who served as Johann's first teacher. From age 10 Johann studied music at the Jesuit-run seminary in Neuburg, where he also served as organist.
Martini became organist at the Franciscan Convent in Freiburg in 1758, while studying at the local university.
Two years later he traveled to Nancy, France, changed his surname to Martini, and began to build his career with the assistance of patrons Stanislaus I (exiled Polish king) and the Marchioness of Desarmoises. In 1764 Martini traveled to Paris where he established connections with royalty and soon gained broad popularity with works like his 1774 opera Henry IV, written to mark Louis XVI's accession to the throne.
Soon he was appointed to several prestigious musical posts, including director of the Théâtre de Feydeau (1789). Political events threatened his security for a time, but by 1795 he was in good standing with the new government, assuming duties as inspector of the Paris Conservatory from 1798-1802. He also served on the faculty there as professor of composition during this period. Martini remained active in his later years, largely writing church music. After the 1814 Restoration of Louis XVIII in France, Martini was appointed Superintendant of the King's Music. He died in Paris on February 10, 1816.