Story Bites

A prodigy of classical music

His name doesn’t ring a bell for a lot of people when thinking about classical music. But Georg Philipp Telemann is an essential name in the baroque era. Georg grew up in a family of clergymen with solid ties to the Lutheran Church. As a young boy, he showed exceptional musical ability and became acquainted with a local organist to learn the craft. He mastered a couple of instruments and composed an opera by the age of ten.

Diversion from family

If not for his fierce determination, Georg could have ended up in the clergy or law school. However, against his family’s advice (especially the maternal side), he pursued a music career. Telemann went to Leipzig University to study law but found a way to utilize his musical talents to good use. He created the Student Collegium Musicum, a college student music club that will lay the foundation of his contribution to the world of classical music. During his time at the University, Georg gave public concerts and wrote opera pieces for the college theater. He eventually became a music director and an organist.

Diversity in classical music

Georg did not stay in school for too long. He accepted a position as Kapellmeister (German for conductor) in the Count Erdmann II court at Zary (a western Polish Town). He came in contact with different styles, such as French, Italian and Polish, which he incorporated into his craft. This would have a large influence on his work. However, Telemann later had to go back to Germany after an invasion by the Swedish army that disbanded his workplace.

The best years ahead

Georg’s best years come from Frankfurt’s experience, where his talents influenced the city’s music scene. His productivity was at his highest, and so was his entrepreneurial energy. He has published much of his music during this time while working as a director for the city.  During this stage of his career, he composed and performed secular ceremonies and choral chamber music.

Influence on classical music

Telemann had a significant influence on the world of classical music. His success’s main drivers appear to be the natural talent that he found as a young boy and his business and networking skills. Aside from his published artistic work, Telemann also published other musicals that were lessons intended for amateurs for practice. He also created a subscription model for his publications that doubled his income. When it comes to his network, Telemann knew much of the classical music giants of his time: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach, and George Frideric Handel. His network, as well his talent and his business mindset, no doubt made his music influential alive as well as after his passing.

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Story Bites

Organ Boss: Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach grew up in modern-day Germany to a family of musicians. Being proficient in organ, one of his uncles, Johann Christoph Bach, introduced him to the instrument. Bach studied the greats of his time and learned to master the organ. He later excelled in various musical disciplines such as counterpoint, which gained him a lot of fame later on.

The Beginning

After graduating from St. Michael, he was turned down for a job. But he later found an opportunity at the chapel of Duke Johann Ernst III in Weimar. He built a reputation as a keyboardist giving him a chance to specialize in the organ while working for the New Church (Now called Bach Church) in Arnstadt.

Being short-tempered and competitive, he mocked a choir student once for not living up to his standard. The student became angry and started chasing Back with a stick. The authorities gave the student a pass and demanded more leniency from Bach.

Jail time

Bach later worked as an organ composer for Weimar’s city-state, where he collaborated with professional musicians. He borrowed and employed styles from the icons of early baroque and classical music such as Vivaldi, Torelli, and Corelli.

His title, while working at the city of Weimar, was director of music. However, his employer did not appreciate his talents. That resulted in passing him over to promote someone else (Wihelm Drese Junior), who he disliked. He was frustrated but managed to get a position of Kapellmeister (which is a leader for sacral or choral chamber) in the state of Anhalt-Cöthen. He submitted his resignation but encountered another issue.

The final years

At that time, a composer did not simply hand over their resignation letter and quit. The Prince of Weimar hired and fired his musicians at his preferred timing. Bach went to jail as a result of his efforts at departing. However, Bach refused to give to the Prince’s demands. The Prince angrily fired him and released him of his duties.

Rather than working on religious choral music, Bach composed secular musical pieces in compliance with Prince Leopold’s wishes. The Prince was a Calvinist and did not want the use of music in worship. He would later compose and perform choral cantatas in his later years while working in Leipzig, inspired by his Gospel readings every Sunday.

His years at Leipzig resulted in his promotion to Court Composer’s title. During this time, he began the publication of his organ music. While not achieving the recognition it deserved at its time, his music was innovative in its harmony, employing an unusual mix of chords and progression. His work in sacral and choral music was evidence of his religious devotion, which influenced his style. His reputation, however, was for his mastery of the organ and his creativity in organ music, which included mixing foreign Italian styles with his work.

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