Give Now  »

wfiu logo
WFIU Public Radio

wtiu logo
WTIU Public Television

Choose which station to support!

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

Noon Edition

A Tale of Telemann

German stamp, issued to celebrate Telemann's 300th birthday in 1981.

Georg Philipp Telemann was one of the most prolific composers of his time, and wrote music for professional and amateur musicians throughout Europe. He’s known today for his extensive canon of chamber music, but Telemann was equally well versed in many other musical genres. This hour on Harmonia we celebrate Telemann’s legacy. In addition, we’ll hear music from our featured release, Best of French Baroque, performed by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.

We heard the Sinfonia from one of Telemann’s Danish Cantatas, performed by Convivium Vocal Ensemble with Con Strumenti.

Telemann's Celebrations

As an employee and civil servant of the city of Hamburg, Telemann wrote many pieces to mark a variety of sacred and secular occasions. In 1757, Telemann wrote a cantata in Danish for the King of Denmark. Titled “The joy of the King of Denmark’s Danish, Norwegian and German Subjects,” the cantata includes text in Latin, German, and Danish. This plethora of languages tells us that the intended audience was highly educated, or at least well-traveled. Here is the Sinfonia and two arias from this cantata, one in Danish and one in Latin.

We heard the Sinfonia and two arias from Telemann’s cantata “The joy of the King of Denmark’s Danish, Norwegian and German Subjects,” performed by Convivium Vocal Ensemble.

In addition to music for birthdays, Telemann wrote music to celebrate weddings. The Serenata “O erhabnes Glück der Ehe” was written for a banquet celebrating the wedding anniversary of Matthias and Maria Catharina Mutzenbecher. Matthias was a prominent businessman and city councilmember in Hamburg. The piece is forward-thinking in its use of chalumeaux, an ancestor of the clarinet.

We heard an aria from the oratorio “O erhabnes Glück der Ehe” by Telemann, performed by Das Kleine Konzert directed by Hermann Max.

Dinner Party

Speaking of party music, Telemann was also part of the great tradition of “Tafelmusik,” that is, composing music that was intended to be played at the table for banquets and feasts. This music is often cheerful and light in character.

Musique de table or Tafelmusik is perhaps Telemann’s most beloved collection. Let’s listen to a Quartet from part 1 of this collection.

Music from Telemann’s Musique de table performed by Musica Antiqua Cologne directed by Reinhard Goebel.

Somber Days

Despite all of his light-hearted music, life wasn’t all fun and games for Telemann. His second wife Maria Catharina Textor, wracked up gambling debts and had multiple affairs before finally leaving him. During this dark time, Telemann kept himself exceptionally busy. In addition to holding multiple posts in Hamburg, he continued publishing in order to pay back his former wife’s debts.

Let’s listen to a piece Telemann self-published during this time. Here is Sonata no. 3 from “Sonates corellisantes.”

With the help of his friends and patrons, Telemann was able to avoid bankruptcy. Here is another piece from Telemann’s necessarily prolific time in Hamburg. We’ll hear excerpts from his Scherzo in A Major, from the collection Scherzi methodichi.

Music from Telemann’s Scherzi methodichi performed by Ensemble Symposium.

Best of French Baroque

Toronto’s Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir shares its name with Telemann’s famous three-part collection, also called “Tafelmusik.” In addition to a healthy dose of Telemann, the ensemble performs Baroque and Classical works on period instruments. Our featured release is Best of French Baroque recorded by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in 2015. Let’s listen to some excerpts from Lully’s Phaëton.

We heard music from Lully’s Phaëton, performed by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.

Break and theme music

:30, TELEMANN, G.P.: Herr Gott dich loben wir, Das Kleine Konzert, CPO 2013, D. 2, Tr. 1 Aria a 5: O erhabnes Gluck der Ehe 

:60, Telemann: 6 Sonates corellisantes / 12 canons melodieux, ou 6 sonates en duo, Collegium Musicum 90, Chandos 1993, Tr. 5 6 Sonates corellisantes: Sonata No. 1 in F Major, TWV 42:F2: V. Allegro 

:30, Best of French Baroque, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Tafelmusik 2015, Tr. 7 Tambourins I - II 

Theme: Danse Royale, Ensemble Alcatraz, Elektra Nonesuch 79240-2 1992 B000005J0B, Tr. 12 La Prime Estampie Royal

The writer for this edition of Harmonia was Sarah Huebsch.

Learn more about recent early music CDs on the Harmonia Early Music Podcast. You can subscribe on iTunes or at

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Harmonia Early Music