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Telemann – In Numbers

Sat Dec 1 2018

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We’re playing music by Telemann in our Pipedreams concert on Monday 3 December at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre. Here is his life broken down into manageable, number-related facts.

2-marriagesTelemann’s first wife died only 15 months after the wedding, leaving Telemann distraught. His second marriage ended almost equally as badly…

4400-ReichsthalerThe size of Telemann’s second wife’s gambling debt, substantially more than his annual income. It was also rumoured she was having an affair with a Swedish Military Officer. Eventually she moved out and he was saved from bankruptcy by a collection by his friends.

03-autobiographiesYes, Telemann wrote three autobiographies. Either he had the world’s most exciting life, or a limitless ego. Unfortunately all three are out of print, so we may never know.

1000s-of-worksIncluding 12 complete cantata cycles for the liturgical year, 44 Passions, oratorios, funeral and wedding services, chamber music, about 40 operas, and over 600 overtures in the French style. All in all that’s more than Bach and Handel (the two most famous Baroque composers) put together.


Namely CPE Bach, the most famous of JS Bach’s sons.

12-years-oldThe age Telemann was when he wrote his first opera (called Sigismundus). He’d already composed numerous arias, motets, and instrumental works though.


In 1712 he publicly boasted to be proficient in 7 instruments (violin, organ, harpsichord, recorder, chalumeau (early clarinet), cello, and calchedon (lute)) as well as being a talented baritone singer.

0-music-lessonsBarring singing lessons and two weeks with a local organist, the 10 year old Telemann had no formal music lessons. Apparently he just taught himself.

One Comment

  • In 1697, after studies at the Domschule in Magdeburg and at a school in Zellerfeld , Telemann was sent to the famous Gymnasium Andreanum at Hildesheim , where his musical talent flourished, supported by school authorities, including the rector himself. Telemann was becoming equally adept both at composing and performing, teaching himself flute, oboe, violin, recorder, double bass, and other instruments. In 1701 he graduated from the Gymnasium and went to Leipzig to become a student at the Leipzig University , where he intended to study law. He ended up becoming a professional musician, regularly composing works for Nikolaikirche and even St. Thomas ( Thomaskirche ). In 1702 he became director of the municipal opera house

    JamesBiosY Mon Dec 17 2018