Georg Philipp Telemann

1681 - 1767

Georg Philipp Telemann (14 March 1681 – 25 June 1767) was a German Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist. Almost completely self-taught in music, he became a composer against his family's wishes. After studying in MagdeburgZellerfeld, and Hildesheim, Telemann entered the University of Leipzig to study law, but eventually settled on a career in music. 

(b. Magdeburg, March 14, 1681; d. Hamburg, June 25, 1767)

German composer. Regarded in his day  Germany's most important composer, he was one of the most productive musicians in history, writing works in virtually every form of significance to the 18th century, including opera. He successfully united the elements of different national styles in a fluent, cosmopolitan idiom that influenced many of his colleagues and represented an important link between the late Baroque and the emerging aesthetic of Classicism.

Unlike J. S. Bach, his slightly  younger contemporary, he did not come from a distinguished musical family. His father was a schoolmaster and member of the clergy, his mother the daughter of a Protestant minister. He was interested in music from childhood, received a thorough general education, and in 1701 enrolled in the University of Leipzig to study law. His talent—he was an accomplished performer on many instruments, particularly the violin, and a fine singer—quickly drew him into Leipzig's musical life. In 1702 he founded an association of student musicians (a collegium musicum) and became director of the city's opera. His successful ventures quickly brought him into conflict with the Kantor of the Thomaskirche, Johann Kuhnau, who clearly did not enjoy having someone of Telemann's talent encroaching on his territory. In 1705, following several complaints from Kuhnau to the Leipzig town council, Telemann found it expedient to leave for Poland, where he served as Kapellmeister to the Count of Promnitz at Sorau. Between 1708 and 1712 he worked in Eisenach at the court of Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach, serving first as director of instrumental music and subsequently as Kapellmeister. While in Eisenach he got to know Bach, who in 1714 asked him to stand as godfather to his son Carl Philipp Emanuel. From 1712 to 1721 Telemann served as music director for the city of Frankfurt, taking a cut in pay in order to have a job that offered greater artistic freedom than a court appointment. Hamburg, with its great opera tradition, beckoned in 1721. Here Telemann remained for the rest of his life, enjoying many productive years, building a thriving music publishing business, and keeping up with the latest musical developments via personal contacts and an active correspondence with many other musicians.

Telemann composed into his 80s, and the sheer volume of his output is staggering. He may have created as many as 50 operas, most of which are lost; their disappearance is a double shame since these works represent, along with the operas of Reinhard Reiser (1674-1739), the most important contribution to the German-language repertoire in the first half of the 18th century. His output of church cantatas, estimated at around 1,700, dwarfs that of Bach or anyone else—he composed at least 20 annual cycles, of which 12 survive more or less intact. He also penned numerous passions, ten oratorios, and more than a dozen masses, making him easily the most prolific composer of church music in history.

Telemann's instrumental works include about 125 orchestral suites, 125 concertos, 40 quartets, 130 trios, around 90 solo sonatas, and 145 keyboard pieces. Among them are several pieces that remain popular, including his "water music," titled Hamburger Ebb und Fluth (1723), three collections of Musique de table (published in 1733), a set of six quartets for flute, violin, viol, and continuo known as the Paris Quartets (1730), and a set of 12 Fantasies for Solo Flute (1732-33). These works exemplify Telemann's remarkable fluency and his command of various national styles, in particular his affinity for the French style and the emerging galant.


In spite of his range and fecundity, Telemann's reputation has suffered from the tendency of latter-day listeners to compare his works with those of Bach or Handel in the same genres. Whenever such comparisons are made, it is Telemann's music that sounds "generic," Bach's and Handel's that seems alive and inspired. By the standards of his day, Telemann was a great composer. In comparison with Bach and Handel, he was merely good.

Key Works

"Musique de Table" - Part III - Ouverture in B flat major TWV 55:B1

"Musique de Table" - Part I - Concerto for flute, violin and cello in A major TWV 53:A2

This set of works, considered by scholars to be Telemann’s magnum opus, was published in three separate anthologies, each containing an orchestral suite, trio, quartet, concerto for several solo instruments, a solo sonata, and a single movement piece the composer tided “Conclusion”.

"Musique de table" - Part II: Quartet in D Minor, TWV 43:d1

Six Concerts Et Six Suites 1 de 3 (1734)

A collection of six multi-movement chamber works published in 1738 during Telemann’s visit to Paris, this set contains two concertos, two sonatas, and two balletts. While these works reflect the French style, the structure is more Italian. Unlike the

trio sonatas, which were scored for four instruments these are true quartets for three melody instruments (flute, violin, viola da gamba, or cello - and accompaniment (harpsichord).

The Paris Quartets

1. Concerto Primo in G major 0:00
2. Concerto Secondo in D major 10:13
3. Sonata Prima in A major 20:52
4. Sonata Seconda in G minor 32:31
5. Première Suite in E minor 43:34
6. Deuxième Suite in B minor 1:01:45

Suite 4 in E major for oboe, violin & harpsichord - TWV 42:E2

Brockes Passion (Passion Oratorio), TWV 5:1

Flute Sonatas

Trio Sonata TWV 42 Tripla Concordia
Sonata TWV 42 Tripla Concordia 
Sonata TWV 41 F1 Tripla Concordia 
Sonata TWV 41 C2 Tripla Concordia 
Sonata TWV 41 11 Tripla Concordia 
12 Fantasias for Flute,Guimond

Overtures TWV 55:D18, G10, c2, D4

1-7. Overture, for 2 trumpets, timpani, strings, Bc in D major, TWV 55:D18 0:00
8-14. Overture: Burlesque de Quichotte, for strings in G major, TWV 55:G10 19:17
15-21. Overture, for 2 oboes, bassoon, strings, Bc in C minor, TWV 55:c2 34:28
22-30. Darmstadt Overture, for 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 violins, strings Bc in D major TWV 55:D4 48:18

Tafelmusik - Production 1

I. Ouverture - Suite in E minor for two flutes, strings & b.c. TWV55:e1

1. Ouverture (Lentement-Vite-Lentement-Vite-Lentement­) 0:00
2. Rejouissance 8:55
3. Rondeau 13:10
4. Loure 15:40
5. Passepied 19:33
6. Air. Un peu vivement 22:33
7. Gigue 26:54

II. Quatuor in G major for flute, oboe, violin & b.c. TWV43:G2

1. Largo-Allegro-Largo 29:17
2. Vivace-Moderato-Vivace 32:38
3. Grave 39:36
4. Vivace 40:00

III. Concerto in A major for flute, violin, violoncello, strings & b.c. TWV53:A2

1. Largo 43:28
2. Allegro 48:01
3. Grazioso 56:46
4. Allegro 1:00:22

IV. Trio in E-flat major for two violins & b.c. TWV42:Es1

1. Affetuoso 1:09:48
2. Vivace 1:12:37
3. Grave 1:16:21
4. Allegro 1:19:15

V. Solo in B minor for flute & b.c. TWV41:h4

1. Cantabile 1:23:20
2. Allegro 1:25:55
3. Dolce 1:28:09
4. Allegro 1:30:56

VI. Conclusion in E minor for two strings & b.c. TWV50:5

1. Allegro 1:34:29

Tafelmusik - Production 2

I. Ouverture - Suite in D major for oboe, trumpet, strings & b.c. TWV55:D1

1. Ouverture (Lentement-Vite-Lentement-Vite-Lentement­) 0:00
2. Air. Tempo giusto 10:32
3. Air. Vivace 17:01
4. Air. Presto 19:58
5. Air. Allegro 25:12

II. Quatuor in D minor for recorder, two flutes & b.c. TWV43:d1

1. Andante 28:54
2. Vivace 31:51
3. Largo 35:33
4. Allegro 38:41

III. Concerto in F major for three violins, violino grosso & b.c. TWV53:F1

1. Allegro 43:05
2. Largo 48:16
3. Vivace 52:49

IV. Trio in E minor for flute, oboe & b.c. TWV42:e2

1. Affetuoso 56:07
2. Allegro 59:39
3. Dolce 1:02:27
4. Vivace 1:07:06

V. Solo in A major for violin & b.c. TWV41:A4

1. Andante 1:10:55
2. Vivace 1:12:57
3. Cantabile 1:16:48
4. Allegro 1:19:56

VI. Conclusion in D major for oboe, trumpet, strings & b.c. TWV50:9

1. Allegro-Adagio-Allegro 1:23:54

Tafelmusik - Production 3

I. Ouverture - Suite in B flat major for two oboes, bassoon, strings & b.c. TWV55:B1

1. Ouverture (Lentement- Presto-Lentement-Presto) 0:00
2. Bergerie (un peu vivement) 8:10
3. Allegresse (vite) 10:44
4. Postillons 13:11
5. Flaterie 15:17
6. Badinage (très vite) 18:23
7. Menuet 20:46

II. Quatuor in E minor for flute, violin, violoncello & b.c. TWV43:e2

1. Adagio 23:48
2. Allegro 25:51
3. Dolce 27:52
4. Allegro 30:28

III. Concerto in E flat major for two horns, strings & b.c. TWV54:Es1

1. Maestoso 32:35
2. Allegro 35:27
3. Grave 40:02
4. Vivace 42:45

IV. Trio in D major for 2 flutes & b.c. TWV42:D5

1. Andante 47:09
2. Allegro 49:23
3. Grave-Largo-Grave 51:28
4. Vivace 53:56

V. Solo in G minor for oboe & b.c. TWV41:g6

1. Largo 55:56
2. Presto-Tempo giusto-Presto 58:40
3. Andante 1:03:11
4. Allegro 1:04:16

VI. Conclusion in B flat major for two oboes, bassoon, strings & b.c. TWV50:10

1. Furioso 1:07:02

Oboe Sonatas

 Der Tod Jesu TWV 5-6

Flute Concertos

1. Overture, suite in E minor, TWV 55:e10 0:00
2. Concerto for flute in G major TWV 51:AnhG1 17:38
3. Concerto for flute in D major, TWV 51:D2 28:29
4. Concerto for flute in E minor "Concerto à Sei", TWV 52:e3 41:02

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