Telemann and Europe

The dramaturgy of the 23rd edition of Baroque Soirées focuses on the works of the great Baroque musician Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767) and his German, Italian and French contemporaries. Telemann is one of the most prolific Baroque composers and his work influenced almost all contemporary musical genres, both secular and sacred. In his musical compositions, he was inspired by various national styles, which he encountered during his rich life. Polish folk music was an inspiration for him; he also skilfully combined French charm and Italian virtuosity and was one of the leading composers in the so-called mixed style, which was followed by many other Baroque composers.


After his studies at Leipzig University, Telemann was based in several places: first, at the court of Count Promnitz in Sorau in Lower Lusatia where French music was very popular and where Telemann composed many instrumental pieces. Later, he wrote about his concerts that they “smell of France”. He also devoted himself extensively to instrumental music during his tenure with the Duke of Saxony in Eisenach, from where he moved to Frankfurt am Main after four years to hold the office of the city’s director of music. His musical career then culminated in Hamburg in northern Germany, where, from 1721 until his death, he served as music director of five major churches and was also involved in the operation of the local opera house. During his time in Eisenach, Frankfurt and then Hamburg, he also devoted himself largely to sacred music, his most numerous works being sacred cantatas, of which he composed over 1,700, a total of twenty full-year cycles, twelve of which have survived to the present day.


Telemann was not only inspired by various national styles himself, but he was also an important source of inspiration for his contemporaries and followers. He was an able businessman and promoter of his music, which therefore became known throughout Europe. In 1728, as a respected musician responsible for several music establishments in the Hanseatic city of Hamburg, he founded the first German music periodical, Der getreue Musik-Meister (The Faithful Music Master). At the invitation of some prominent musicians in Paris, the composer spent eight months in the metropolis at the turn of 1737 and 1738, which he used to publish the second series of his quartets.


The concert series will present various aspects of Telemann’s work in the context of his contemporaries and friends, who are also important representatives of Baroque music in the main European cultural centres.