German baroque composer, organist, and conductor. He was the best-known German composer of his time with a contemporary reputation much greater than Johann Sebastian Bach's. His prolific output of concertos for both new and old instruments, including violin, viola da gamba, recorder, flute, oboe, trumpet, horn, and bassoon, represents a methodical and fastidious investigation into the tonal resonances and structure of the new baroque orchestra, research which was noted by Bach. Other works include 25 operas, numerous sacred cantatas, and instrumental fantasias.
Telemann was born at Magdeburg and educated there and at Hildesheim. He went on to read law at Leipzig University, and seems to have been largely self-taught in music. In Leipzig he founded a student Collegium musicum and was appointed organist of the New Church (St Matthew's) in 1704, but the same year moved to Sorau as kapellmeister to Count Promnitz. In the service of the court at Eisenach 1708–12 (kapellmeister from 1709) he made the acquaintance of Johann Sebastian Bach in nearby Weimar. He then worked in Frankfurt until his appointment in 1721 as cantor of the Johanneum (Johanneum Lateinschule, established in the 16th century) and municipal music director in Hamburg, where he stayed for the rest of his life. In 1722, he declined the post of cantor of St Thomas's, Leipzig, and Bach was appointed. He travelled a good deal, several times visiting Berlin, and in 1737 made a successful visit to Paris.
He is famed for his huge output, although some of his instrumental music can sound routine and written to order. His most attractive music is often in his vocal works, notably the operas, oratorios, and cantatas.
WorksOpera about 45 operas (few survive complete), including Der geduldige Socrates (1721), Der neumodische Liebhaber Damon (1724), Miriways (1728), Pimpinone (1725), Emma und Eginhard (1728).
Choral oratorios, including Die Tageszeiten, Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Christi (1760), Der Tag des Gerichts (1762); Passion oratorios (Brockes and Ramler); 46 liturgical Passions; 12 sets of cantatas for the church's year; motets, psalms.
Orchestral and chamber large quantities of instrumental music, including the collection Musique de table (Hamburg, 1733); concertos, orchestral suites, trio sonatas, and other chamber music; keyboard music.
Telemann, Georg Philipp
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