Georg Philipp Telemann, alongside Johann Sebastian Bach and George Friedrich Haendel, was one of the great composers of the bourgeois Enlightenment. He was one of the most famous composers of his time who left behind an extensive and varied amount of work, including more than fifty operas and hundreds of instrumental compositions.
For the public music culture, Telemann created something unique and incomparable; he was the first to adopt musical influences from the whole of Europe, he dissolved the strict division between religious and secular music, thereby significantly influencing German Baroque music.
Georg Philipp Telemann descended from an intellectual Magdeburg family. He grew up in Magdeburg, and up to the age of thirteen visited the city where he later attended the cathedral school, where he was taught the basics of his musical knowledge and abilities. His musical talent was recognised quite early on. Thus, at a fairly young age he learned to play all instruments which he could get his hands on (violin, flute, cither and the piano). He started composing at the age of ten, and he wrote his first opera “Sigismundus” for a school performance when he was twelve. Under the lead of Johan Christoph Losius he completed his musical education in 1697 where he then learned more instruments, some self-taught, such as flute, organ, violin, oboe, shalm, and double bass.
Telemann became one of the most varied personalities of musical history where he gained international recognition that no one else had achieved before. In the last few years, the composer and his works have been the subject of lively interest once again. Based in Magdeburg, the International Telemann Society was founded which organises an annual Telemann Festival. Magdeburg, his hometown, created the Philipp Telemann Prize which annually honours outstanding achievements in interpretation, care and research of the great composer’s life and work.
In 1981, a statue by Eberhard Rossdeutscher was erected which reminds us of the great son of the city.
Georg Philipp Telemann is to this day the most productive composer of musical history. His incredibly extensive work includes all genres which were around at that time. This includes 1,000 (126 of these still exist) orchestra suites, symphonies, concerts, violin solos, sonatas, duets, trio sonatas, quartets, piano and organ pieces:
• Grillensinfonie (“Cricket Symphony”),
• Tafelmusik (“Dinner Music”),
• Quatuors Parisiens,
• Hamburger Ebb’ und Fluth (“Hamburg High Tide and Low Tide”),
• Alsterouvertüre (“Alster Overture”),
• Die Relinge (“The Railings”)
Additionally, approximately 50 operas, serenades, intermezzi:
• Der geduldige Socrates (“The Patient Socrates”),
• Der neumodische Liebhaber Damon (The Modern Lover Damon”),
• Serenata Eroica,
At least 12 volumes of cantatas, 15 masses, 22 psalms, more than 40 passions, 6 oratories, motets:
• Der Tag des Gerichts (“Judgement Day”),
• Donner-Ode (“Ode to Thunder”),
• Der Herr ist König (“The Lord is King”),
• Messias (“Messiah”)