Saturday, 28 May 2011


“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music” - Sergei Rachmaninov

A very restful day today, with a relatively late awakening and breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Then some household chores and shopping, culminating with a visit to the library. I love visiting the public library and spending some time there looking at the new arrivals, new CDs and DVDs. We always manage to borrow something despite the huge number of books, CDs and DVDs at home…

Today, it was a CD of Telemann’s music that attracted my attention. Georg Philipp Telemann (born March 14, 1681, Magdeburg, Brandenburg; died June 25, 1767, Hamburg), was a German composer of the late Baroque period, who wrote both sacred and secular music but was most admired for his church compositions, which ranged from small cantatas to large-scale works for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

Telemann was the son of a Protestant minister and was given a good general education but never actually received music lessons. Though he showed great musical gifts at an early age, he was discouraged by his family from becoming a professional musician, which at that time was neither an attractive nor a highly remunerative occupation. He taught himself music, however, and he acquired great facility in composing and in playing such diverse musical instruments as the violin, recorder, oboe, viola da gamba, chalumeau, and clavier. In 1701 he enrolled at the University of Leipzig as a law student, but his musical activities won over his undivided attention and were to engross him for the rest of his life.

For his 18th-century contemporaries, Georg Philipp Telemann was the greatest living composer. The dreaded critic Johann Mattheson wrote of him: “Corelli and Lully may be justly honoured but Telemann is above all praise.” Through his public concerts Telemann introduced to the general public music previously reserved for the court, the aristocracy, or a limited number of burghers. His enormous output of publications provided instrumental and vocal material for Protestant churches throughout Germany, for orchestras, and for a great variety of amateur and professional musicians.

Telemann’s multiple musical activities and the prodigious number of his compositions are remarkable. In his lifetime he was most admired for his church compositions. These vary from small cantatas, suitable for domestic use or for use in churches with limited means, to large-scale works for soloists, chorus, and orchestra. His secular music also has a wide range, from simple strophic songs to the dramatic cantata “Ino”, written at the age of 84. Many of his operas were successful, particularly “Pimpinone”. His orchestral works consist of suites (called ouvertures), and concerti. His chamber works are remarkable for their quantity, the great variety of instrumental combinations, and the expert writing for each instrument.

Here is his Concerto in A minor, TWV 21:25, played by Collegium Musicum 90 with Simon Standage.


  1. Very informative, thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a beautiful concerto! I had never heard it before. Poor old Telemann doesn't get as much publicity as Vivaldi, Handel and Bach do nowadays. He deserves to be heard much more!