Telemann, Georg Philipp
Telemann, Georg Philipp
Telemann, Georg Philipp, greatly significant German composer; b. Magdeburg, March 14, 1681; d. Hamburg, June 25, 1767. He received his academic training at a local school, and also learned to play keyboard instruments and the violin; he acquired knowledge of music theory from the cantor Benedikt Christiani. He subsequently attended the Gymnasium Andreanum in Hildesheim, where he became active in student performances of German cantatas. In 1701 he entered the Univ. of Leipzig as a student of jurisprudence; in 1702 he organized a collegium musicum there; later was appointed music director of the Leipzig Opera, where he used the services of his student singers and instrumentalists. In 1705 he went to Sorau as Kapellmeister to the court of Count Erdmann II of Promnitz. In 1708 he was appointed Konzertmeister to the court orch. in Eisenach; later he was named Kapellmeister there. In 1709 he married Louise Eber lin, a musician’s daughter, but she died in 1711 in childbirth. In 1712 Telemann was appointed music director of the city of Frankfurt am Main; there he wrote a quantity of sacred music as well as secular works for the public concerts given by the Frauenstein Society, of which he served as director. In 1714 he married Maria Katharina Textor, the daughter of a local town clerk. They had 8 sons and 2 daughters, of whom only a few survived infancy His wife later abandoned him for a Swedish army officer. In 1721 he received the post of music director of 5 churches in Hamburg, which became the center of his important activities as composer and music administrator. In 1722 Telemann was appointed music director of the Hamburg Opera, a post he held until 1738. During his tenure he wrote a number of operas for production there, and also staged several works by Handel and Keiser. In 1737-38 he visited France. His eyesight began to fail as he grew older; his great contemporaries Bach and Handel suffered from the same infirmity. An extraordinarily prolific composer, Telemann mastered both the German and the Italian styles of composition prevalent in his day. While he never approached the greatness of genius of Bach and Handel, he nevertheless became an exemplar of the German Baroque at its grandest development. According to Telemann’s own account, he composed about 20 operas for Leipzig, 4 for Weissenfels, 2 for Bayreuth, and 3 operettas for Eisenach. He lists 35 operas for Hamburg, but included in this list are preludes, intermezzi, and postludes. His grandson, Georg Michael Telemann (b. Plon, April 20, 1748; d. Riga, March 4, 1831), was also a composer and writer on music. A complete ed. of his works, Georg Philipp Telemann: Musikalische Werke, began publication in Kassel and Basel in 1950.
dramatic: Opera: (all 1st perf. in Hamburg): Der gedultige Socrates (Jan. 28, 1721); Ulysses (1721; in collaboration with Vogler); Sieg der Schönheit (1722; later performed as Gensericus); Belsazar (July 19, 1723; 2nd version, Sept. 30, 1723); Der Beschluss des Carnevals (1724; in collaboration with Campara and Conti); Omphale (1724); Der neu-modische Liebhaber Damon (June 1724); Cimbriens allgemeines Prolocken (Feb. 17, 1725); Pimpinone oder Die ungleiche Heyrath, intermezzo (Sept. 27, 1725); La Capricciosa e il Credula, intermezzo (1725); Adelheid (Feb. 17, 1727); Bujfonet und Alga, intermezzo (May 14, 1727); Calypso (1727); Sancio (1727); Die verkehrte Welt (1728); Miriways (May 26, 1728); Emma und Eginhard (1728); Aesopus (Feb. 28, 1729); Flavius Bertaridus, König der Langobarden (Nov. 23, 1729); Margaretha, Königin in Castilien (Aug. 10, 1730); Die Flucht des Aeneas (Nov. 19, 1731); Judith, Gemahlin Kayser Ludewig des Frommen (Nov. 27, 1732; in collaboration with Chelleri); Orasia oder Die rachgierige Liebe (Oct. 1736). Oratorios: Der königliche Prophète David als ein Fürbild unseres Heilands Jesu (1718; not extant); Freundschaft geget über Liebe (1720; not extant); Donnerode (1756-60); Sing, unsterbliche Seele, an Mirjam und deine Wehmut, after Klopstock’s Der Messias (1759); Das befreite Israel (1759); Die Hirten bei der Krippe zu Bethlehem (1759); Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu (1760); Der Tag des Gerichts (1762). INSTRUMENTAL : One of his most important collections was his Musique de table (Hamburg, 1733); it contained 3 orch. suites, 3 concertos, 3 quartets, 3 trios, and 3 sonatas. His orch. output was prodigious, comprising numerous overtures, concertos, sonatas, quartets, quintets, etc.
Telemann’s autobiography of 1718 was publ. in J. Mattheson, Grosse Generalbassschule (Hamburg, 1731); his autobiography of 1739 was publ. in J. Mattheson, Grundlage einer Ehren-Pforte (Hamburg, 1740; new ed. by M. Schneider, Berlin, 1910); both of these, plus his autobiographical letter to Walther of 1729, have been republ. in W. Kahl, Selbstbiographien deutscher Musiker des XVIII. Jahrhunderts (Cologne, 1948). See also the following: B. Schmid, ed., Herr G.P. T.: Lebenslauf (Nuremberg, c. 1745; in Ger. and Fr.); M. Frey, G.P. T.s Singe-, Spiel- und Generalbass-Übungen (Zürich, 1922); H. Graeser, G.P. T.s Instrumental-Kammermusik (diss., Univ. of Munich, 1924); E. Valentin, G.P T.(Burg, 1931; 3rd ed., 1952); H. Hörner, G.P T.s Passionsmusiken (Leipzig, 1933); K. Schäfer-Schmuck, G.P T als Klavierkomponist (diss., Univ. of Kiel, 1934); H. Büttner, Das Konzert in den Orchestersuiten G.P. T.s (Wolfenbüttel and Berlin, 1935); W. Menke, Das Vokalwerk G.P. T.s (Kassel, 1942); F. Funk, The Trio Sonatas of G.P. T.(diss., George Peabody Coll. for Teachers, 1954); C. Rhea, The Sacred Oratorios of G.P. T.(diss., Fia. State Univ., 1958); E. Valentin, T. in seiner Zeit (Hamburg, 1960); R. Petzoldt, T. und seine Zeitgenossen (Magdeburg, 1966); C. Gilbertson, The Methodical Sonatas of G.P. T.(diss., Univ. of Ky, 1967); R. Petzoldt, G.P. T.: Leben und Werk (Leipzig, 1967; in Eng., 1974); K. Zauft, T.s Liedschaffen und seine Bedeutung für die Entwicklung des deutschen Liedes in der 1. Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts (Magdeburg, 1967); G.P. T, Leben und Werk: Beiträge zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung (Magdeburg, 1967); A. Hoffmann, Die Orchestersuiten G. P. T.s (Wolfenbüttel and Zürich, 1969); S. Kross, Das Instrumentalkonzert bei G.P. T (Tutzing, 1969); M. Peckham, The Operas of G.P. T.(diss., Columbia Univ., 1969); K. Grebe, G.P. T. in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten (Reinbeck bei Hamburg, 1970); I. Allihn, G.P. T und J.J. Quantz (Magdeburg, 1971); H. Grosse and H. Jung, eds., G.P. T, Briefwechsel (Leipzig, 1972); T.- Renaissance: Werk- und Wiedergabe (Magdeburg, 1973); W Maertens, T. Kapitänsmusiken (diss., Univ. of Halle, 1975); G.P. T: Leben—Werk—Wirkung (Berlin, 1980); E. Kiessmann, T in Hamburg (Hamburg, 1980); M. Ruhnke, ed., G.P. T.: Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis seiner Werke: Instrumentalwerke, Vol. I (Kassel, 1984); B. Stewart, G.P. T. in Hamburg: Social and Cultural Background and Its Musical Expression (diss., Stanford Univ., 1985); W. Hirschmann, Studien zum Konzertschaffen von G.P. T.(Kassel and N.Y., 1986); W. Menke, G.P. T.: Leben, Werk und Umwelt in Bilddokumenten (Wilhelmshaven, 1987); D. Gutknecht, H. Krones, and F. Zschoch, eds., T.iana et alia musicologica: Feschrift für Günter Fleischhauer zum 65. Geburtstag (Oschersleben, 1995); W. Hobohm, C. Lange, and B. Reip-sch, eds., T.s Auftrags- und Geiegenheitswerke: Funktion, Wert und Bedeutung (Oschersleben, 1997); C. Klein, Dokumente zur T.Rezeption 1767 bis 1907 (Oschersleben, 1998).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire
Georg Philipp Telemann
Georg Philipp Telemann
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), a German composer of the late baroque era, was one of the leaders of the Hamburg school during its preeminence in Germany.
Georg Philipp Telemann was born in Magdeburg on March 14, 1681. He was educated there and in Hildesheim. He learned the rudiments of music in school, as all German children did, but otherwise he taught himself music, mainly by studying the scores of Jean Baptiste Lully and André Campra. Telemann is said to have composed motets and other pieces of the church service when very young, and by the time he was 12 years old he had written almost the whole of an opera.
In 1701 Telemann entered Leipzig University as a law student. In 1704 he became organist at the Neukirche in Leipzig and founded a student society called the Collegium Musicum. He wrote several operas for the Leipzig theater. He was chapelmaster at the court of Eisenach (1709-1712) and in Frankfurt (1712-1721). He then became cantor of the Johanneum and music director in Hamburg, and he held these posts for the rest of his life. He was offered the position of music director at Leipzig in 1722 but declined it, and J. S. Bach received the appointment.
Telemann made a number of trips to Berlin, and in 1737 he visited Paris, where he was influenced by French musical ideas and style. He died on June 25, 1767.
Telemann composed with rare facility and fluency in a variety of styles. George Frederick Handel is reported to have said that Telemann could write a church piece of eight parts with the same ease as another would write a letter. He composed literally thousands of works, including 12 complete cantata cycles for the liturgical year, 44 Passions, oratorios, funeral and wedding services, chamber music, about 40 operas, and over 600 overtures in the French style. Whereas J. S. Bach could maintain his individuality when he wrote in the French or Italian style, Telemann prided himself on taking on the characteristics of every national style, writing in what was then called the new style galant.
In his History of Violin Playing (1965) David Boyden translates an interesting excerpt from Telemann's autobiography: "I had an opportunity in upper Silesia as well as in Cracow of getting to know Polish music in all its barbaric beauty. One would hardly believe what wonderfully bright ideas such pipers and fiddlers are apt to get when they improvise, ideas that would suffice for an entire lifetime. There is in this music a great deal of merit provided it is treated right. I have myself written in this manner several large concertos and trios that I clad in Italian clothes with alternating Adagi and Allegri."
Opinion is divided as to whether Telemann is an unjustly neglected master or a superficial craftsman whose works lack depth and profundity because of his incredible productivity. Unquestionably he had an effortless melodic gift and wrote music of great charm. His 12 Methodischen Sonate (1732) provide many valuable examples of ornamentation that are particularly useful today when the art of improvised ornamentation is almost dead except in jazz.
Telemann's autobiography is in German. Some biographical information on him is in Romain Rolland, A Musical Tour through the Land of the Past (trans. 1922). His important contributions to the pedagogy of figured-bass playing are discussed by Franck T. Arnold, The Art of Accompaniment from a Thorough-bass as Practiced in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1931). His position in history is discussed by Paul Henry Lang, Music in Western Civilization (1941), and Manfred Bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era (1947). See also Homer Ulrich and Paul A. Pisk, A History of Music and Musical Style (1963), and Harold C. Schonberg, The Lives of the Great Composers (1970).