Marpurg began his public career as a private secretary in Paris where he associated with such eminences as Voltaire and Rameau. In 1763 Marpurg became director of the lottery in Berlin, a position he maintained until his death. Marpurg's avocation was music criticism, composition, theory, and history. He wrote the preface to the first edition of Bach's Art of Fugue (1751/52). Marpurg's subsequent work Abhandlung von der Fuge (1753) presented one of the first theories of Bach's fugal style. His Handbuch bey dem Generalbasse und der Composition (1755) amplified upon Rameau's theory of the fundamental bass, while in a celebrated pamphlet of 1776 he criticized Kirnberger's theory of the same. Marpurg also disputed with Sorge over the structure of chords.