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Georg Philipp Telemann

Georg Philipp Telemann

Overview
Georg Philipp Telemann was a German Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 and multi-instrumentalist
Multi-instrumentalist
A multi-instrumentalist is a musician who plays a number of different instruments.The Bachelor of Music degree usually requires a second instrument to be learned , but people who double on another instrument are not usually seen as multi-instrumentalists.-Classical music:Music written for Symphony...

. Almost completely self-taught in music, he became a composer against his family's wishes. After studying in Magdeburg
Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

, Zellerfeld, and Hildesheim
Hildesheim
Hildesheim is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located in the district of Hildesheim, about 30 km southeast of Hanover on the banks of the Innerste river, which is a small tributary of the Leine river...

, Telemann entered the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

 to study law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, but eventually settled on a career in music. He held important positions in Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, Żary
Zary
Żary is a town in western Poland with about 39,900 inhabitants , situated in the Lubusz Voivodeship...

, Eisenach
Eisenach
Eisenach is a city in Thuringia, Germany. It is situated between the northern foothills of the Thuringian Forest and the Hainich National Park. Its population in 2006 was 43,626.-History:...

, and Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

 before settling in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 in 1721, where he became musical director of the city's five main churches.
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Georg Philipp Telemann was a German Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 and multi-instrumentalist
Multi-instrumentalist
A multi-instrumentalist is a musician who plays a number of different instruments.The Bachelor of Music degree usually requires a second instrument to be learned , but people who double on another instrument are not usually seen as multi-instrumentalists.-Classical music:Music written for Symphony...

. Almost completely self-taught in music, he became a composer against his family's wishes. After studying in Magdeburg
Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

, Zellerfeld, and Hildesheim
Hildesheim
Hildesheim is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located in the district of Hildesheim, about 30 km southeast of Hanover on the banks of the Innerste river, which is a small tributary of the Leine river...

, Telemann entered the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

 to study law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, but eventually settled on a career in music. He held important positions in Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, Żary
Zary
Żary is a town in western Poland with about 39,900 inhabitants , situated in the Lubusz Voivodeship...

, Eisenach
Eisenach
Eisenach is a city in Thuringia, Germany. It is situated between the northern foothills of the Thuringian Forest and the Hainich National Park. Its population in 2006 was 43,626.-History:...

, and Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

 before settling in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 in 1721, where he became musical director of the city's five main churches. While Telemann's career prospered, his personal life was always troubled: his first wife died only a few months after their marriage, and his second wife had extramarital affairs and accumulated a large gambling debt before leaving Telemann.
Telemann was one of the most prolific composers in history (at least in terms of surviving oeuvre) and was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the leading German composers of the time—he was compared favorably both to his friend Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

, who made Telemann the Godfather and namesake of his son Carl Philipp Emanuel
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
right|250pxCarl Philipp Emanuel Bach was a German Classical period musician and composer, the fifth child and second son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach...

, and to George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music...

, whom Telemann also knew personally. Telemann's music incorporates several national styles: French, Italian, and Polish. He remained at the forefront of all new musical tendencies and his music is an important link between the late Baroque and early Classical styles.

1681–1701: Childhood and early youth



Telemann was born in Magdeburg
Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

, the capital of the Duchy of Magdeburg
Duchy of Magdeburg
The Duchy of Magdeburg was a province of Brandenburg-Prussia from 1680 to 1701 and a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1701 to 1807. It replaced the Archbishopric of Magdeburg after its secularization by Brandenburg. The duchy's capitals were Magdeburg and Halle, while Burg was another...

, Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia is the historiographic denomination for the Early Modern realm of the Brandenburgian Hohenzollerns between 1618 and 1701. Based in the Electorate of Brandenburg, the main branch of the Hohenzollern intermarried with the branch ruling the Duchy of Prussia, and secured succession...

, into an upper middle class family. His parents were Heinrich Telemann, deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

 at the Church of the Holy Spirit (Heilige-Geist-Kirche) in Magdeburg, and Maria Haltmeier, daughter of a clergyman from Regensburg
Regensburg
Regensburg is a city in Bavaria, Germany, located at the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, at the northernmost bend in the Danube. To the east lies the Bavarian Forest. Regensburg is the capital of the Bavarian administrative region Upper Palatinate...

. Many of the family members worked for the church and only a few distant relatives were musicians. The composer himself claimed that he inherited the talent for music from his mother, whose nephew Joachim Friedrich was Kantor
Cantor (church)
A cantor is the chief singer employed in a church with responsibilities for the ecclesiastical choir; also called the precentor....

 at Verden (Telemann would later publish a treatise by Joachim Friedrich's son, who became an organist). On his father's side, only a single relative is known to have been a professional musician: Heinrich Thering, Telemann's great-grandfather, served as Kantor at Halberstadt
Halberstadt
Halberstadt is a town in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt and the capital of the district of Harz. It is located on the German Half-Timbered House Road and the Magdeburg–Thale railway....

 in the late 16th century. Telemann's brother Heinrich Matthias (1672–1746) eventually became a clergyman.

Heinrich Telemann died in 1685, leaving Maria to raise the children and oversee their education. Telemann studied at the Altstädtisches Gymnasium and at the Domschule, where he was taught the catechism
Catechism
A catechism , i.e. to indoctrinate) is a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present...

, Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

. At age 10 he took singing lessons and studied keyboard playing for two weeks with a local organist. This was enough to inspire the boy to teach himself other instruments (recorder
Recorder
The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 and zither
Zither
The zither is a musical string instrument, most commonly found in Slovenia, Austria, Hungary citera, northwestern Croatia, the southern regions of Germany, alpine Europe and East Asian cultures, including China...

) and start composing. His first pieces were aria
Aria
An aria in music was originally any expressive melody, usually, but not always, performed by a singer. The term is now used almost exclusively to describe a self-contained piece for one voice usually with orchestral accompaniment...

s, motets, and instrumental works, and at age 12 he composed his first opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

, Sigismundus. Neither Maria nor her advisers were supportive of these endeavours, however. They confiscated all of the boy's instruments and forbade him any musical activities, yet Telemann continued composing, in secret. In late 1693 or early 1694 his mother sent him to a school in Zellerfeld, hoping that this would convince her son to choose a different career. However, the superintendent of the school, Caspar Calvoer, recognized Telemann's talents and even introduced him to musical theory; Telemann continued composing and playing various instruments, taught himself thoroughbass and regularly supplied music for the church choir and the town musicians.

In 1697 Telemann left for Hildesheim
Hildesheim
Hildesheim is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located in the district of Hildesheim, about 30 km southeast of Hanover on the banks of the Innerste river, which is a small tributary of the Leine river...

, where he entered the famous Gymnasium Andreanum. Here too his talents were recognized and in demand: the rector
Rector
The word rector has a number of different meanings; it is widely used to refer to an academic, religious or political administrator...

 himself commissioned music from Telemann. The young composer frequently travelled to courts at Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

 and Brunswick
Braunschweig
Braunschweig , is a city of 247,400 people, located in the federal-state of Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker river, which connects to the North Sea via the rivers Aller and Weser....

 where he could hear and study the latest musical styles. Composers such as Antonio Caldara
Antonio Caldara
Antonio Caldara was an Italian Baroque composer.Caldara was born in Venice , the son of a violinist. He became a chorister at St Mark's in Venice, where he learned several instruments, probably under the instruction of Giovanni Legrenzi...

, Arcangelo Corelli
Arcangelo Corelli
Arcangelo Corelli was an Italian violinist and composer of Baroque music.-Biography:Corelli was born at Fusignano, in the current-day province of Ravenna, although at the time it was in the province of Ferrara. Little is known about his early life...

, and Johann Rosenmuller
Johann Rosenmüller
Johann Rosenmüller , was a German Baroque composer, who played a part in transmitting Italian musical styles to the north....

 were early influences. Telemann also continued studying various instruments, and eventually became an accomplished multi-instrumentalist: at Hildesheim he taught himself flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

, oboe
Oboe
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

, chalumeau
Chalumeau
This article is about the historical musical instrument. For the register on the clarinet that is named for this instrument, see Clarinet#Range....

, viola da gamba, double bass
Double bass
The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

, and bass trombone. After graduating from Gymnasium Andreanum (with excellent results, despite his musical activities), Telemann went to Leipzig in late 1701 to become a student at the Leipzig University, where he intended to study law. In his 1718 autobiography Telemann explained that this decision was taken because of his mother's urging. However, some 22 years later, in the 1740 autobiography, he offered a different explanation, claiming that he was motivated by his desire for university education. This was not to come: according to Telemann himself, a setting of Psalm 6
Psalm 6
Psalm 6 is the 6th psalm from the Book of Psalms. Its authorship is traditionally assigned to King David. David's supposed intention in writing the psalm was that it would be for anyone suffering from sickness or distress or for the state of Israel while suffering through oppression.In the psalm,...

 by him inexplicably found its way into his luggage and was found by his roommate at the university. The work was subsequently performed and so impressed those who heard it that the mayor of Leipzig himself approached Telemann and commissioned him to regularly compose works for the city's two main churches (Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche).

1701–1706: Career in Leipzig and Sorau


Once he established himself as a professional musician in Leipzig, Telemann became increasingly active in organizing the city's musical life. From the start, he relied heavily on employing students: the very first ensemble he founded was a student collegium musicum
Collegium Musicum
The Collegium Musicum was one of several types of musical societies that arose in German and German-Swiss cities and towns during the Reformation and thrived into the mid-18th century...

 that had some 40 members. They gave public concerts and also provided music for the Neukirche. In 1702 Telemann became director of the opera house Opernhaus auf dem Brühl, where too he employed student performers. Finally, when Telemann got the post of organist and music director at the Neukirche, he only played the organ once, and assigned the organist's duties to his students. Between 1702 and 1705 Telemann composed at least eight operas, four of which went to the Leipzig operahouse and four to the Weissenfels court. During his time at Leipzig, he was continually influenced by the music of Handel
HANDEL
HANDEL was the code-name for the UK's National Attack Warning System in the Cold War. It consisted of a small console consisting of two microphones, lights and gauges. The reason behind this was to provide a back-up if anything failed....

, whom he met earlier, in 1701. He also studied the works of Johann Kuhnau
Johann Kuhnau
Johann Kuhnau was a German composer, organist and harpsichordist.-Biography :Kuhnau was born in Geising, Saxony. He grew up in a religious Lutheran family. At age nine, he auditioned successfully for the Kreuzschule in Dresden...

, Kantor of the Thomaskirche and city director of music in Leipzig; in his later years, Telemann recounted how much he learned about counterpoint
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

 from Kuhnau's work.

However, Telemann's growing prominence and methods caused a conflict between him and Kuhnau. By employing students Telemann took away a major resource for Kuhnau's choir (and church music in Leipzig in general); Kuhnau was also concerned that students were too frequently performing in operas, leaving them with less time to devote to church music. Denouncing Telemann as an "opera musician", Kuhnau petitioned the city council several times against the younger composer. In the end, however, his efforts proved fruitless, and the only thing the council did was to forbid Telemann to appear on the operatic stage. Kuhnau's rights were never fully restored, not even after Telemann left Leipzig.
In 1704 Telemann received an invitation to become Kapellmeister
Kapellmeister
Kapellmeister is a German word designating a person in charge of music-making. The word is a compound, consisting of the roots Kapelle and Meister . The words Kapelle and Meister derive from the Latin: capella and magister...

 for the court of Count Erdmann II of Promnitz
Erdmann II of Promnitz
Erdmann II, Count von Promnitz was Lord of Zary and Trzebiel in Lower Lusatia, and Pszczyna in Upper Silesia....

 at Sorau (now Żary
Zary
Żary is a town in western Poland with about 39,900 inhabitants , situated in the Lubusz Voivodeship...

, in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

). Leipzig authorities only granted him resignation in early 1705, however, and he arrived in Sorau in June. This new position allowed him to study contemporary French music, which was particularly popular at the court: the works of Lully
Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste de Lully was an Italian-born French composer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He is considered the chief master of the French Baroque style. Lully disavowed any Italian influence in French music of the period. He became a French subject in...

 and Campra
André Campra
André Campra was a French composer and conductor.Campra was one of the leading French opera composers in the period between Jean-Baptiste Lully and Jean-Philippe Rameau. He wrote several tragédies en musique, but his chief claim to fame is as the creator of a new genre, opéra-ballet...

. Also, when the court spent six months in Pleß (now Pszczyna
Pszczyna
Pszczyna is a town in southern Poland with 26,827 inhabitants within the immediate gmina rising to 50,121 inhabitants in the powiat, which includes the town of Pszczyna, itself, Brzeźce , Czarków , Ćwiklice , Jankowice , Łąka , Piasek , Poręba , Rudołtowice , Studzionka , Studzienice , Wisła...

), Telemann had an opportunity to hear and study Polish and Moravian folk music, which fascinated and inspired him. In performing his duties at the courty, Telemann was as prolific as in Leipzig, composing at least 200 ouvertures, by his own recollection, and other works. Unfortunately, the Great Northern War
Great Northern War
The Great Northern War was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in northern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The initial leaders of the anti-Swedish alliance were Peter I the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of...

 put an end to Telemann's career at Sorau. In late January or early February 1706 he was forced to flee from the invading troops of the Swedish King Charles XII
Charles XII of Sweden
Charles XII also Carl of Sweden, , Latinized to Carolus Rex, Turkish: Demirbaş Şarl, also known as Charles the Habitué was the King of the Swedish Empire from 1697 to 1718...

. He spent some time in Frankfurt an der Oder
Frankfurt (Oder)
Frankfurt is a town in Brandenburg, Germany, located on the Oder River, on the German-Polish border directly opposite the town of Słubice which was a part of Frankfurt until 1945. At the end of the 1980s it reached a population peak with more than 87,000 inhabitants...

 before returning to Sorau in the summer.

1707–1721: Eisenach and Frankfurt


The details of how Telemann obtained his next position are unknown. Around 1707–1708 he entered the service of Duke Johann Wilhelm of Saxe-Eisenach
John William III, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach
Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach , was a duke of Saxe-Eisenach.He was the third son of Johann Georg I, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach and Johannetta of Sayn-Wittgenstein...

, becoming Konzertmeister on 24 December 1708 and Secretary and Kapellmeister in August 1709. Thus began one of the most productive periods in Telemann's life: during his tenure at Eisenach
Eisenach
Eisenach is a city in Thuringia, Germany. It is situated between the northern foothills of the Thuringian Forest and the Hainich National Park. Its population in 2006 was 43,626.-History:...

 he composed a wealth of instrumental music (sonatas and concertos), and numerous sacred works, which included four or five complete annual cycles of church cantatas, 50 German and Italian cantatas, and some 20 serenatas. In 1709 he made a short trip to Sorau to marry Amalie Louise Juliane Eberlin, lady-in-waiting to the Countess of Promnitz and daughter of the musician Daniel Eberlin
Daniel Eberlin
Daniel Eberlin was a German Baroque composer and Kapellmeister.Eberlin had a vagrant lifestyle. After a brief military career , he worked as a librarian in his hometown, Nuremberg. Later he became Kapellmeister at the Eisenach court...

. They went back to Eisenach, where in January 1711 Amalie Louise gave birth to a daughter. Unfortunately, the mother died soon afterwards; Telemann's marriage lasted only for 15 months. The event had a profound effect on the composer: he later recounted experiencing a religious awakening, and also published "Poetic Thoughts" on the death of his first wife in 1711. By the end of that year he was frustrated with court life and started seeking another appointment. He declined an offer from the Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

 court, since he wanted to work with greater artistic freedom; Telemann wanted a post similar to the one he had in Leipzig. Sometime between late December 1711 and early January 1712 he applied for the newly vacant Frankfurt post of city director of music and Kapellmeister at the Barfüsserkirche. The application was successful and Telemann arrived in Frankfurt on 18 March 1712.

Telemann's new duties were similar to those he had in Leipzig. He provided various music for two churches, Barfüsserkirche and Katharinenkirche
Katharinenkirche, Frankfurt
St. Catherine's Church is the largest Lutheran church in Frankfurt am Main, dedicated to the martyred early Christian saint, Catherine of Alexandria. It is located in the city centre near one of the most famous plazas in the city, the Hauptwache.This church is built in the baroque style and stands...

 (composing, among other pieces, more annual cycles of cantatas), as well as for civic ceremonies; he also revived the city's collegium musicum. After May 1712 Telemann also served as administrator and treasurer of the Haus Braunfels, administrator of a charitable foundation, and organizer of a tobacco collegium. On 28 August 1714 he married his second wife, Maria Catharina Textor, daughter of a council clerk. The couple had nine children (none became musicians), but the marriage would later prove disastrous for Telemann. The following year he began publishing his music; four collections of instrumental pieces appeared within the next three years, and many more publications would follow. On 11 March 1717 Telemann was appointed Kapellmeister
Kapellmeister
Kapellmeister is a German word designating a person in charge of music-making. The word is a compound, consisting of the roots Kapelle and Meister . The words Kapelle and Meister derive from the Latin: capella and magister...

 von Haus aus at Eisenach
Eisenach
Eisenach is a city in Thuringia, Germany. It is situated between the northern foothills of the Thuringian Forest and the Hainich National Park. Its population in 2006 was 43,626.-History:...

: he fulfilled the duties of the position by regularly sending new music from Frankfurt to Eisenach.

1721–1736: Early years in Hamburg



On 10 July 1721 Telemann was invited to work in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 as Kantor of the Johanneum Lateinschule
Lateinschule
Latin school was the grammar school of 14th to 16th century Europe, though the latter term was much more common in England. Emphasis was placed, as the name indicates, on learning to use Latin. The education given at Latin schools gave great emphasis to the complicated grammar of the Latin...

 and musical director of the city's five largest churches, succeeding Joachim Gerstenbüttel. The composer accepted; he remained in Hamburg for the rest of his life. The years spent in the city were the most productive period of his life. Once again he was required to compose numerous cantatas, not only for the churches but also for civic ceremonies; he also gave public concerts, led another collegium musicum, and assumed the directorship of the opera house Gänsemarktoper. Initially, however, Telemann encountered a number of problems: some church officials found opera and collegium musicum performances to be objectionable (for "inciting lasciviousness"), and the city printer was displeased with Telemann publishing printed texts for his yearly Passions. The former matter was resolved quickly, but Telemann's exclusive right to publish his own work was only recognized in full in 1757. Telemann's opera productions were not particularly popular, and eventually the opera house had to be closed down in 1738.

It is probably these difficulties that prompted Telemann to apply, already in 1722, for the post of Thomaskantor
Thomaskantor
The Thomaskantor is the musical director of the Thomanerchor in Leipzig, founded in 1212. He is appointed by Leipzig's city council and his duties are to lead the weekly services called Motette, Sunday services and other services in the Thomaskirche, also to conduct recordings and tours.Johann...

 in Leipzig (Kuhnau died on 5 June that year). Of the six musicians who applied, he was the favored candidate, even winning the approval of the city's council. Telemann declined the position, but only after using the offer as leverage to secure a pay raise for his position in Hamburg. When Telemann declined the job, it was offered to Christoph Graupner
Christoph Graupner
Christoph Graupner was a German harpsichordist and composer of high Baroque music who lived and worked at the same time as Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann and George Frideric Handel.-Graupner's life:Born in Hartmannsdorf near Kirchberg in Saxony, Graupner received his first musical...

, who also declined it—though chiefly because he could not secure a dismissal from his employer the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt. This paved the way for J.S. Bach, who went to occupy the position for the rest of his life. Telemann returned to Hamburg, but would still supplement his income by taking up additional jobs: in 1723–1726 he served as Kapellmeister von Haus aus to the Bayreuth court, and between 1725 and 1730 he acted as corresponding agent to the court at Eisenach, supplying news from northern Europe.

In Hamburg Telemann started publishing his literary works: poems, texts for vocal music, sonnets, poems on the deaths of friends and colleagues. From 1725 he actively published his music as well, engraving and advertising the editions himself. More than 40 volumes of music appeared between 1725 and 1740 and these were widely distributed across Europe, owing to Telemann's numerous contacts in various countries. All this publishing activity, however, was in part driven by the need for money. Telemann's wife Maria Catherina amassed a very large gambling debt, 4400 Reichsthaler
Reichsthaler
The Reichsthaler was a standard Thaler of the Holy Roman Empire, established in 1566 by the Leipzig convention. It was also the name of a unit of account in northern Germany and of a silver coin issued by Prussia.-Reichsthaler coin:...

, which amounted to more than Telemann's annual income. The marriage was already in trouble by the early 1720s, as Maria Catherina was publicly rumored to be having an affair with a Swedish military officer. Telemann's friends in Hamburg organized a collection to save the composer's finances, and eventually he was saved from bankruptcy; by 1736 Maria had left Telemann's home. She outlived her husband by some eight years and died in 1775 at a convent in Frankfurt.

1736–1767: Later years in Hamburg



In late September or early October 1737 Telemann took an extended leave from Hamburg and went to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. There he countered various unauthorized publications of his music by obtaining his own publishing privilege. He immediately published several works, most importantly the Nouveaux quatuors, which were revised and expanded versions of the early composition stolen from him. The Nouveaux quatuors were enthusiastically received by the court and the city musicians. Telemann returned to Hamburg by the end of May 1738. Around 1740 his musical output fell sharply, even though he continued fulfilling his duties as Hamburg music director. He became more interested in music theory and completed a treatise on the subject, Neues musicalisches System (1742/3, published 1752). He also took up gardening and cultivating rare plants, a popular Hamburg hobby which was shared by Handel. Telemann still followed European musical life, however: throughout the 1740s and the 1750s he exchanged letters and compositions with younger composers such as C.P.E. Bach
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
right|250pxCarl Philipp Emanuel Bach was a German Classical period musician and composer, the fifth child and second son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach...

, Franz Benda
Franz Benda
Franz Benda was a Czech violinist and composer. He was the brother of Jiří Antonín Benda, and he worked for much of his life at the court of Frederick the Great....

, Johann Friedrich Agricola
Johann Friedrich Agricola
Johann Friedrich Agricola was a German composer, organist, singer, pedagogue, and writer on music. He sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Flavio Anicio Olibrio.-Biography:...

, and others.

After Telemann's eldest son Andreas died in 1755, he assumed the responsibility of raising Andreas' son Georg Michael Telemann
Georg Michael Telemann
Georg Michael Telemann was a German composer and theologian.Telemann was born in Plön, a grandson of the better-known Georg Philipp Telemann. He is mainly known for the church music he wrote. He died in Riga....

, who eventually became a composer. In his later years, Telemann's eyesight began to deteriorate, and he was increasingly troubled by health problems. This led to a further decline in his output around 1762, however, he was still capable of composing music of highest quality, and continued to write until his death on the evening of 25 June 1767. The cause of death was a "chest ailment"; he was buried on 29 June in the Johannisfriedhof. He was succeeded at his Hamburg post by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach.

Legacy


Telemann was the most prolific composer of his time: his oeuvre comprises more than 3000 pieces. The first accurate estimate of the number of his works were provided by musicologists only during the 1980s and the 1990s, when extensive thematic catalogues were published. During his lifetime and the later half of the 18th century Telemann was very highly regarded by colleagues and critics alike. Numerous theorists (Marpurg
Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg
Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg was a German music critic, music-theorist and composer. He was friendly and active with many figures of the Enlightenment of the 18th century.-Life:...

, Mattheson
Johann Mattheson
Johann Mattheson was a German composer, writer, lexicographer, diplomat and music theorist.Mattheson was born and died in Hamburg. He was a close friend of George Frideric Handel, although he nearly killed him in a sudden quarrel, during a performance of Mattheson's opera Cleopatra in 1704...

, Quantz
Johann Joachim Quantz
Johann Joachim Quantz was a German flutist, flute maker and composer.-Biography:Quantz was born in Oberscheden, near Göttingen, Germany, and died in Potsdam....

, and Scheibe
Johann Adolph Scheibe
Johann Adolph Scheibe was a Danish composer, who in 1737 published an influential criticism of Johann Sebastian Bach's music.-References:*This article was initially translated from the Danish Wikipedia....

, among others) cited his works as models, and major composers such as J.S. Bach and Handel
HANDEL
HANDEL was the code-name for the UK's National Attack Warning System in the Cold War. It consisted of a small console consisting of two microphones, lights and gauges. The reason behind this was to provide a back-up if anything failed....

 bought and studied his published works. He was immensely popular not only in Germany but in the rest of Europe as well: orders for editions of Telemann's music came from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Holland, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n countries, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. It was only in early 19th century that his popularity came to a sudden halt. Most lexicographers started dismissing him as a "polygraph" who composed too many works, a Vielschreiber for whom quantity came before quality. Such views were influenced by an account of Telemann's music by Christoph Daniel Ebeling, a late 18th century critic who in fact praised Telemann's music and only made passing critical remarks of his productivity. After the Bach revival, Telemann's works were judged as inferior to Bach's and lacking in religious fervour. Particularly striking examples of such unfair judgements were produced by noted Bach biographers Philipp Spitta
Philipp Spitta
Julius August Philipp Spitta was a German music historian and musicologist best known for his 1873 biography of Johann Sebastian Bach.-Biography:...

 and Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer OM was a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. He was born in Kaysersberg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time part of the German Empire...

, who criticized Telemann's cantatas and then praised works they thought were composed by Bach—but which were, in fact, composed by Telemann, as was shown by later research. The last performance of a substantial work by Telemann (Der Tod Jesu) occurred in 1832, and it was not until the 20th century that his music started being performed again. The revival of interest in Telemann began in the first decades of the 20th century and culminated in the Bärenreiter critical edition of the 1950s. Today each of Telemann's works is usually given a TWV number. TWV stands for Telemann-Werke-Verzeichnis (Telemann Work Catalogue).

Telemann's music was one of the driving forces behind the late Baroque and the early Classical styles. Starting in the 1710s he became one of the creators and the foremost exponents of the so-called German mixed style, an amalgam of German, French, Italian and Polish styles. Over the years, his music gradually changed and started incorporating more and more elements of the galant style, but he never completely adopted the ideals of the nascent Classical era: Telemann's style remained contrapuntally and harmonically complex, and already in 1751 he dismissed much contemporary music as too simplistic. Composers he influenced musically included pupils of J.S. Bach in Leipzig, such as Wilhelm Friedmann Bach, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach and Johann Friedrich Agricola
Johann Friedrich Agricola
Johann Friedrich Agricola was a German composer, organist, singer, pedagogue, and writer on music. He sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Flavio Anicio Olibrio.-Biography:...

, as well as those composers who performed under his direction in Leipzig (Christoph Graupner
Christoph Graupner
Christoph Graupner was a German harpsichordist and composer of high Baroque music who lived and worked at the same time as Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann and George Frideric Handel.-Graupner's life:Born in Hartmannsdorf near Kirchberg in Saxony, Graupner received his first musical...

, Johann David Heinichen
Johann David Heinichen
Johann David Heinichen was a German Baroque composer and music theorist who brought the musical genius of Venice to the court of Augustus the Strong in Dresden...

 and Johann Georg Pisendel
Johann Georg Pisendel
Johann Georg Pisendel was a German Baroque musician, violinist and composer who, for many years, led the Court Orchestra in Dresden, then the finest instrumental ensemble in Europe.-Biography:...

), composers of the Berlin lieder school, and finally, his numerous pupils, none of whom, however, became major composers.

Equally important for the history of music were Telemann's publishing activities. By pursuing exclusive publication rights for his own works, he set one of the most important early precedents for regarding music as the intellectual property of the composer. The same attitude informed his public concerts, where Telemann would frequently perform music originally composed for ceremonies attended only by a select few members of the upper class.

Cantatas

  • Cantata Cycle 1716-1717
    Cantata Cycle 1716-1717 (Telemann)
    The Cantata Cycle 1716-1717 is a series of cantatas written by Georg Philipp Telemann while he was Frankfurt's Director of Municipal Music. In addition to composing music for civic occasions, he conducted and composed for several churches in the city, including the Katharinenkirche and the...

  • Die Donner-Ode ("The Ode of Thunder") TWV 6:3a-b
  • Du bleibest dennoch unser Gott (Erstausgabe 1730)
  • Ihr Völker, hört
  • Ino (1765)
  • Der Schulmeister ("The Schoolmaster"), probably spurious
  • Sei tausendmal willkommen (Erstausgabe 1730)
  • Die Tageszeiten ("The Times of the Day") (1764)
  • Gott, man lobet dich, Cantata for the Peace of Paris, 1763, for 5-part chorus, flute, 2 oboes, bassoon, 3 trumpets, 2 horns, strings & continuo, TWV 14:12

Oratorios

  • Hamburger Admiralitätsmusik
    Admiralitätsmusik
    Hamburger Admiralitätsmusik TWV 24:1 is a secular oratorio for soloists, choir and orchestra composed by Georg Philipp Telemann to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hamburg's admiralty...

     TWV 24:1
  • Der Tag des Gerichts ("The Day of Judgement") Hamburgische Kapitänsmusik
    Kapitänsmusik
    The Hamburgische Kapitänsmusik refers to a body of compositions by Georg Philipp Telemann. They comprise sacred oratorios and secular serenades. However, the oratorios were intended to be performed in a secular setting, the Hamburg Drillhaus, and their characters are almost exclusively allegorical...

     (various)
  • Der Tod Jesu ("The Death of Jesus") TWV 5:6

Orchestral suites

  • Grillen-symphonie TWV 50:1
  • Ouvertüre Wassermusik (Hamburger Ebb und Fluth) TWV 55:C3
  • Ouvertüre des nations anciens et modernes in G TWV 55:G4
  • Ouvertüre g-moll in G minor TWV 55:g4
  • Suite a-moll für Flöte, Orchester und b.c. TWV 55:a2
  • Overture: Alster Echo in F, for 4 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo, TWV55:F11

Chamber music

  • Sinfonia Spirituosa in D Major (2 violins, viola & continuo, trumpet ad libitum) TWV 44:1
  • Tafelmusik (1733) ('Tafelmusik
    Tafelmusik (musical term)
    Tafelmusik is a term used since the mid-16th century for music played at feasts and banquets. Often the term was also used as a title for collections of music, some of which was intended to be so used...

    ' refers to music meant to accompany a meal)
  • Der getreue Musikmeister (1728), a musical journal containing 70 small vocal and instrumental compositions
  • 6 Paris Quartets, each of which has five to six instruments. TWV 43
  • Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst
    Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst
    Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst is a cantata collection published by Georg Philipp Telemann during 1726.-Sources:**-External links:* – a Norwegian project to record every 72 cantates in Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst...

  • The Twelve Fantasias for Transverse Flute without Bass
    12 Fantasias for solo flute (Telemann)
    Georg Philipp Telemann's 12 Fantasias for Solo Flute were published in Hamburg in 1732–33. This is one of Telemann's collections of music for unaccompanied instruments, the others being thirty-six fantasias for solo harpsichord published in Hamburg in 1732–33, twelve for solo violin...

     TWV 40:2-13
  • The Twelve Fantasias for Violin without Bass
    12 Fantasias for solo violin (Telemann)
    Georg Philipp Telemann's 12 Fantasias for Solo Violin was published in Hamburg in 1735. It is one of Telemann's collections of music for unaccompanied instruments, the others being twelve fantasias for solo flute and thirty-six for solo harpsichord that were published in Hamburg in 1732–33,...

     TWV 40:14-25
  • 6 Canonical Sonatas
    6 Canonical Sonatas (Telemann)
    Georg Philipp Telemann's 6 Canonical Sonatas is a set of six canonical sonatas written for two recorders or two violins.Each sonata is written as a canon at the unison, meaning the second player plays the same melody as the first but several bars later....

     TWV 40: 118-123

Viola

  • Concerto in G Major
    Viola Concerto (Telemann)
    Of Georg Philipp Telemann's surviving concertos, his Viola Concerto in G major, TWV 51:G9 is among his most famous, and still regularly performed today. It consists of four movements:...

     for Viola and String Orchestra, TWV 51:G9; the first known concerto for viola, still regularly performed today
  • Concerto in G Major
    Concerto for 2 violas (Telemann)
    The Concerto for 2 violas in G major TWV 52:G3 is a work by Georg Philipp Telemann. Telemann was famous for writing concertos for various instruments and at the time the viola was not a popular instrument for a concerto because it was considered an English instrument, thus unfashionable. However,...

     for Two Violas and String Orchestra, TWV 52:G3

Horn

  • "Concerto for Two Horns in D Major TWV 52:D1"
  • "Concerto for Two Horns in D Major TWV 52:D2"
  • "Horn Concerto in B"
  • "Concerto in D for Horn and Orchestra"

Oboe

  • "Concerto in F Minor"
  • "Concerto in A Major"
  • "Concerto in E Minor"
  • "Concerto in G Major"
  • "Concerto in C Minor"
  • "Concerto in D Minor"
  • "sonata in G minor"

Media


Further information on Telemann and his works


Modern editions

  • Prima la musica! Commercially available performing editions of Telemann's music, as well as other baroque composers.
  • Habsburger Verlag Modern performing editions of Telemann's cantatas edited by Eric Fiedler.
  • Edition Musiklandschaften Modern performing editions of Telemann's yearly Passions from 1757 to 1767 edited by Johannes Pausch

Free sheet music