Georg Philipp Telemann, classical music composer

Georg Philipp Telemann


Georg Philipp Telemann was born on March 14, 1681. His father, Heinrich Telemann, was deacon of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Madgeburg and his mother was the daughter of a clergyman. Many of Telemann's family members worked for the church but, surprisingly, only very few, and they distant relatives, were musicians. At the age of 10, he began singing lessons and spent two weeks studying keyboard with a local organist. Following this, he taught himself other instruments, among them the recorder and violin, and began composing. By the time he was 12, Telemann had composed his first opera. However, his mother did not approve of her sons interest in music and forbade him to take part in any musical activities. In an attempt to convince Telemann to choose a different career, his mother sent him to a school in Zellerfield. The superintendent of the school, however, recognized Telemann's musical talents and introduced him to music theory. Telemann continued to compose, perform on various instruments, and even taught himself thorough-bass. 

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 opera house.

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 Barfüsserkirche.

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.

Composer Title Date Action
Georg Philipp Telemann Don Quixote Suite 05/25/2009 Play Add to playlist
Georg Philipp Telemann Fantasia No. 2 for Unaccompanied Flute 01/25/2009 Play Add to playlist
Georg Philipp Telemann Ouverture in D Major 09/17/2010 Play Add to playlist
Georg Philipp Telemann Fantasie #1 in A Major 03/20/2011 Play Add to playlist
Georg Philipp Telemann Cantata "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr" 03/16/2013 Play Add to playlist
Georg Philipp Telemann Sonata in F minor 08/14/2013 Play Add to playlist
Georg Philipp Telemann Cantata Das ist je gewisslich wahr 03/10/2014 Play Add to playlist
Georg Philipp Telemann Christmas Cantata 1761 03/08/2015 Play Add to playlist
Georg Philipp Telemann Cantata "Seele, lerne dich erkennen" 03/13/2016 Play Add to playlist