Georg Philipp Telemann

Georg Philipp Telemann


Georg Philipp Telemann was one of history's most prolific composers, writing more than 3000 works. His music incorporates several national styles - French, Italian and even Polish.

  • Telemann (1681-1767) was almost completely self-taught, becoming a composer much to his family's disapproval. His mother confiscated all his instruments.
  • Young Georg started writing arias, motets, and instrumental pieces in secret. 
  • After going to Leipzig to study law, he switched to music. The city's mayor commissioned him to compose works for its two main churches.
  • Telemann played, among other instruments, flute, oboe, double bass, and trombone.
  • Around 1707 he entered the service of a Duke in Eisenach. In that capacity, he composed at least four complete annual cycles of church cantatas.
  • Telemann was one of the creators and main exponents of a mixture of German, French, Italian and Polish musical styles.
  • He had a profound influence on the musical development of some of Bach's children. He was also Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach's godfather.
  • Telemann pursued exclusive publication rights for his works, setting an important early precedent for the regarding of music as the intellectual property of the composer.
  • He published more than 40 volumes of music between 1725 and 1740 which were widely distributed across Europe.
  • Telemann's private life was always troubled. His first wife died only a few months after their marriage; his second - with whom he had nine children - had extra-marital affairs and built up a large gambling debt before leaving him. Telemann was saved from bankruptcy by friends.

Did you know?

Telemann enjoyed gardening and cultivating rare plants, a popular Hamburg hobby which was also shared by Handel.

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