German composer and performer Georg Philipp Telemann was born in Magdeburg on 24 March 1681 into a Lutheran family. He studied at the University of Leipzig, switching from law to music against the wishes of his family. He took important jobs in Leipzig, Sorau, Eisenach and Frankfurt before settling in Hamburg, where he became musical director of the five main churches.
In his day, his music, which incorporates French, Italian and even Polish styles, was considered better than that of either Johann Sebastian Bach or George Frideric Handel, and forms an important link between the late baroque and early classical periods.
Telemann played many instruments, including double bass, flute, keyboard, oboe, recorder, violin and zither. As a composer he was very prolific, writing more than three thousand works. Although his career was successful, his private life was not - his first wife died after only a few months of marriage, and his second wife ran up large gambling debts and was unfaithful to him.
Telemann had health and eyesight problems towards the end of his life, but was still composing in the early 1760s. He died in Hamburg on 25 June 1767, aged eighty-six. Interest in his music waned after his death until the twentieth century, when more interest developed.
CD Spotlight. Strangely Less Familiar - Telemann Christmas Cantatas, warmly recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'There is no doubt that Willens and his team believe wholeheartedly in Telemann's work, and these pieces are perfectly executed by all involved.'
CD Spotlight. Judged to Perfection - Baroque oboe sonatas played by Xenia Löffler, strongly recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... played very pleasingly with great style and panache by all instruments concerned.'
CD Spotlight. Immaculately Crazy - Red Priest's 'Baroque Bohemians' impresses Alice McVeigh. '... extreme alternations of mood, from manic charges to bucolic brusqueness, with serious offbeat percussive work ... and general anarchy ...'
CD Spotlight. Telling Clarity - Telemann concertos impress Gerald Fenech. '... in the Berliners' hands Telemann's music sounds even more trailblazing than maybe the composer intended.'
CD Spotlight. Playful Counterpoint - Telemann in the French style, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'The distinguished musicians of the Hanoverian Ensemble display a characteristic eighteenth century affinity of expression that Telemann's urbane work requires.'
CD Spotlight. Vagaries of Love - Baroque music from Dominique Labelle and Musica Pacifica stimulates Gerald Fenech. 'A beautiful issue that is as heartwarming as it is stimulating.'
Ensemble. Sparkle and Brilliance - An exploration of the celebration and imitation of national styles, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Invigorating Music - Telemann, J S Bach and Handel from Mary Bevan and members of the English Concert, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Gallic Elegance - Alexandra Soumm joins Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for music by Ginastera, Lalo, Telemann, Bizet and Ravel, impressing Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Delectable Listening - Michala Petri plays Telemann, admired by Robert Anderson. 'The performance is indeed triumphant.'
Ensemble. Enterprisingly Apt - A wide-ranging recital by Janey Miller and Susie Summers, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Seldom Bridged - Tom Collier plays vibraphone and marimba, highly recommended by Howard Smith. '... hear classics from a new, fascinating standpoint ...'
CD Spotlight. Airy Pleasantries - Telemann cantatas, heard by Robert Anderson. '... delicious music-making from the whole team ...'
CD Spotlight. Great Character - German Baroque from the Hanoverian Ensemble, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... another treasure trove of wonderful music ...'
CD Spotlight. Truly Dexterous - Music for solo violin and viola, heard by Howard Smith. '... an urbane, ear-catching sound.'
Ensemble. Glowing Performance - The Sitwell Singers begin a new season, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Delightful Contributions - Nicholas Kok conducts Sinfonia Viva, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Sparks Really Flew - Mike Wheeler listens to the Denner Ensemble
Ensemble. Sing ye to the Lord - Roderic Dunnett was at the 2009 Hereford Three Choirs Festival
CD Spotlight. Diversely Experienced - Music for bassoon, harpsichord and double bass, impresses Howard Smith. '... an outright "tour de force".'
The Composer's Conundrum? - Alistair Hinton comments on Gordon Rumson's recent article
The Composer's Conundrum - Gordon Rumson has some bad news about creativity and self-promotion
Ensemble. Beautifully Realised - Music for flute, viola and harp from The Wakeford Ensemble, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Perceptive Musicianship - Oboe concertos played by Andrea Gullickson, enjoyed by Howard Smith. '... highly recommended ...'
CD Spotlight. Precision and Purity - Recordings from Estonia, reviewed by Rex Harley
Ensemble. Arresting Playing - A recital by Althea Ifeka and Katherine May, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Record box. A spirited approach - Performances by the Corelli Consort and soloists, reviewed by Patric Standford
Ensemble. Day of judgment - A little known work by Telemann, appreciated by Rex Harley
CD Spotlight. Unusual combination - 'Dance of the Blessed Spirits' for saxophone and organ, reviewed by Robert Hugill. '... a lovely technique ...'
CD Spotlight. Slave labour - The political statements of Hans Werner Henze, investigated by Robert Anderson. '... sensuous richness ...'
Record box. The dancing man - Basil Ramsey hears the charms of Telemann released by an experienced group
Record box - Astonishing flow. Basil Ramsey finds Telemann in good company
Record box - Unexpected delicacies. Telemann concerti as savoured by Basil Ramsey