Georg Philipp Telemann

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Telemann, Georg Philipp


Born Mar. 14, 1681, in Magdeburg; died June 25, 1767, in Hamburg. German composer, organist, and conductor.

Telemann taught himself music. Beginning in 1701 he studied law at the University of Leipzig, where he founded the music society Collegium Musicum. In 1704 he was an organist in Leipzig. From 1704 to 1708 he was Kapellmeister at the court of a prince in Sorau (now Zary, Poland). Telemann’s visit to Kraków, where he became acquainted with Polish folk music, had a great influence on him. From 1708 to 1712 he was the court musician in Eisenach, where he met J. S. Bach. From 1712 to 1721 he was cantor and music director in Frankfurt-am-Main. In 1721 he became the municipal music director of Hamburg, and until the end of his life, he directed the city’s church choirs and operatic theater; he played an important role in the theater’s activities. In 1728 he began publishing the music journal Der getreue Musicmeister.

Telemann worked in many genres. His compositions include about 40 operas, numerous religious cantatas, oratorios, Passion music, masses, orchestral overtures, suites, concerti grossi, works for the clavier and violin, and trio sonatas. A contemporary of Bach and G. F. Handel, he combined polyphony and features of the new “gallant” style of the 18th century. He also wrote simple musical pieces for playing at home, and often composed program music, including the orchestral suite Don Quixote.


Rolland, R. Muzykal’noe puteshestvie v stranu proshlogo. Sobr. soch., vol. 17. Leningrad, 1935. Chapter 5.
Rabei, V. Georg Filipp Telemann. Moscow, 1974.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.