In 1701, after graduating from Gymnasium Andreanum in
Hildeburg, he left for Leipzig to study law at the Leipzig University, probably
due to his mother's urging. However, he did not fulfill his plan to study law.
According to Telemann himself, a setting he had composed of the 6th
Psalm was found by a roommate and subsequently performed. The performance was
so impressive that the mayor of Leipzig approached Telemann and commissioned
him to compose music for Leipzig's two main churches. Telemann's reputation as
a professional musician was sealed. Afterwards, he took on an increasingly
active role in the music life of Leipzig. He found the Collegium Musicum, which
J.S. Bach would take over some decades later, and became the director of the
Telemann's next major post was as Konzertmeister, and later
as Secretary and Kapellmeister, to the Duke Johann Wilhelm of Saxe-Eisenach.
His time spent in Eisenach was very productive, composing many instrumental and
sacred works. However, he became unhappy with court life and sought out a new
position similar to the one he occupied in Leipzig. In 1712, he accepted the
position as city director of music in Frankfurt and Kapellmeister at the
In July 1721, Telemann accepted the post of Kantor of
Johanneum Lateinschule and music director of Hamburg's five main churches. He
remained in Hamburg for the remainder of his life, though he did apply for the
position of Kantor in Leipzig in 1722. Despite being accepted for the position,
he turned it down after receiving a pay raise for his position in Hamburg.
Telemann's years in Hamburg were his most productive. He was required to
compose not only for the services of the Hamburg's churches but also for civic
events. In addition to his required duties, he led a Collegium Musicum and
became director of the opera house.
After 1740, however, Telemann's output as a composer
declined. Though he stilled maintained his duties as music director, he became
increasingly interested with music theory and published a treatise on the
subject in 1752. In his later years, his eye sight began to deteriorate.
Combined with other health problems, his output further declined. Despite this,
Telemann continued to compose until his death on June 25, 1767.
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