Georg Philipp Telemann

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Georg Philipp Telemann
Born24 March 1681
Died25 June 1767(1767-06-25) (aged 86)

Georg Philipp Telemann (14 March 1681 – 25 June 1767) was a German baroque composer. He wrote more than 3,000 pieces of music, many of which were published. As publishing cost much money at that time, this was quite unusual. He mostly taught himself musically and knew how to play 10 instruments. During his life people thought he was one of the greatest composers. He also wrote lots of church music, most of which is not common today.

Life[change | change source]

Early life[change | change source]

Telemann was born in Magdeburg. His father died when he was four years old. He studied music with an organist for two weeks. He wrote his first opera at the age of 12. However, his mother did not want him to become a musician. So, she took away his instruments. She did not let Telemann write music. Telemann continued to play and write music secretly.[1] His mother sent him to a school in Zellerfeld. She hoped that Telemann would lose his interests in music. Even so, Telemann continued to write and study music. He learned how to play the figured bass himself. He wrote music for school events. He also wrote church music.[2] After studying in Zellerfeld for four years, he went to study in Hildesheim.[3]

Leipzig[change | change source]

After Telemann graduated, he gave up music. He went to Leipzig to study law. One day, his friend found a piece of Telemann's music. It was a setting of the sixth Psalm. It was soon performed in the Thomaskirche. The mayor of Leipzig heard the performance. He asked Telemann to write church music for the two churches in Leipzig, the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche. So, Telemann went back to writing music.[1] He became the director of the Leipzig Opera in 1702. He was chosen to become the organist of the Neukirche.[3]

Telemann founded a collegium musicum in Leipzig. The collegium was a group of students who loved music. On Sundays they performed Telemann's church music. They also performed in coffee houses and for noblemen.[2] The cantor of the Thomaskirche, Johann Kuhnau did not like that his students joined the Collegium.[1]

Telemann left Leipzig in 1705. He became the Kapellmeister in the court of Sorau. He worked for Count Erdmann II of Promnitz. The count loved French music. So, Telemann had to write music in the French style.[4] Many musicians were fired by the count. Even so, Telemann was not fired. He left Sorau when Sweden attacked the town in 1706.[1]

Eisenach and Frankfurt[change | change source]

Telemann went to work in Eisenach, the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach. He was a Konzertmeister. His job was writing music and playing the violin. He also wrote church cantatas. Telemann returned to Sorau to marry Amalie Louise Juliane Eberlin. She was the daughter of Daniel Eberlin, a composer. She died in 1711 after giving birth to their daughter. Telemann soon left Eisenach.[2]

Telemann went to Frankfurt in 1712. He became the music director of the city's two churches. He taught music in the schools. He wrote cantatas for the church. He published his first set of pieces in 1715. The pieces are six sonatas for the violin.[2] He led another collegium musicum. The collegium performed Telemann's first passion oratorio, the Brockes-Passion, in 1716. The performance was a success.[1]

Telemann married Maria Catharina Textor in 1714. They had nine children.[2]

Hamburg[change | change source]

Engraving of Telemann by Georg Lichtensteger

Telemann moved to Hamburg in 1721. He became the music director of Hamburg. He had to write music for the five churches in Hamburg.[1] He also taught history and music to students. However, he was not allowed to play concerts in public. His salary was not as high as he hoped. In 1722, Johann Kuhnau died. The city of Leipzig was looking for a new cantor. Telemann had worked in Leipzig before. Leipzig's city council wanted Telemann to become the new cantor. He told Hamburg's city council that he was leaving. The council did not want Telemann to leave. So, they increased his salary. Telemann changed his mind. He did not become the cantor of the Thomaskirche. Johann Sebastian Bach was chosen as the cantor.[2]

Telemann had a debt of 5,000 Reichstalers in 1726. It was because his wife spent a lot of money. Around this time, Telemann started publishing music. He might have started publishing music to pay back his debts. He had paid back 3,000 Reichstalers in 1736.[2]

Later life[change | change source]

A memorial to Telemann in Hamburg

Telemann went to Paris in 1737. He was asked to come to Paris by French musicians. Some people in Paris had published six of Telemann's quartets. Telemann did not allow this. This set is the first part of the Paris quartets.[2] He published another six quartets, called the Nouveaux quatuors, in Paris. This is the second part of the Paris quartets. Telemann wrote about music in France after he returned to Hamburg. However, he did not finish writing it.[5]

Telemann stopped publishing music in 1740. He sold all of the copper plates which he used to print music.[4] He wrote music theory books. However, he did not publish them. He started to do gardening. He received many rare plants from other composers. Handel sent him a crate of plants from England. Telemann stopped writing new cantatas around 1750. He used music he had written before. He could not direct performances. His legs had become weak. He was helped by his grandson, Georg Michael.[2]

Telemann died on 25 June 1767 at the age of 86. His godson Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach became the next music director of Hamburg.

Music[change | change source]

Telemann wrote more than 3,000 pieces of music.[6] His music mixes different styles. He wrote in the French and Italian styles.[7] He also used rhythms of Polish folk music. He heard Polish folk music in Sorau.[2] He was one of the first composers to write a concerto for the viola.[8]

Telemann published his own music. At that time, publishing music cost a lot of money. Composers did not get a lot of money by publishing music. Even so, Telemann started a publishing business. He even engraved some of the copper plates himself. The copper plates were used to print the music on paper.[9] He created a musical newspaper. It was called Der Getreue Musik-Meister (English: The Faithful Music Master). He published his music in the newspaper. He also published music by other composers.[1]

Legacy[change | change source]

During his life, people thought that Telemann was one of the greatest composers. Johann Sebastian Bach copied one of Telemann's violin concertos. Bach also arranged another one of Telemann's violin concertos. The arrangement is played on the harpsichord.[10] 182 people bought the first edition of Telemann's Tafelmusik. This includes George Frideric Handel and Johann Joachim Quantz.[2]

People in the 19th century thought that Telemann's music was bad. They thought his music was not serious. However, this changed in the 20th century. People began to study Telemann's music again. His music is performed more often.[2]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Petzoldt, Richard (1974). Georg Philipp Telemann. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195197224.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Zohn, Steven (2020). The Telemann Compendium. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press. ISBN 978-1-78327-446-8.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ruhnke, Martin (1985). "Georg Philipp Telemann". In Sadie, Stanley (ed.). North European baroque masters: Schütz, Froberger, Buxtehude, Purcell, Telemann. London: MacMillan. ISBN 9780333390184.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hirschmann, Wolfgang (2016). "Telemann, Georg Philipp (Pseudonym Melante)". Neue Deutsche Biographie. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  5. Bergmann, Walter (1967). "Telemann in Paris". The Musical Times. 108 (1498): 1101–1103. doi:10.2307/951885. ISSN 0027-4666.
  6. Zohn, Steven (20 January 2001). "Telemann, Georg Philipp". Grove Music Online (8th ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.27635.
  7. Anderson, Nicholas (October 1981). "George Philipp Telemann: A tercentenary reassessment". Early Music. 9 (4): 499–508. doi:10.1093/earlyj/9.4.499.
  8. Boyden, David D.; Woodward, Ann M. (2001). "Viola". Grove Music Online (8th ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.29438.
  9. Zohn, Steven (2005). "Telemann in the Marketplace: The Composer as Self-Publisher". Journal of the American Musicological Society. 58 (2): 275–356. doi:10.1525/jams.2005.58.2.275. ISSN 0003-0139.
  10. Zohn, Steven (2015). Music for a Mixed Taste: Style, Genre, and Meaning in Telemann's Instrumental Works. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190247850.

Other websites[change | change source]