The Success of Telemann As an Opera Composer
Georg Philipp Telemann was an influential German Baroque composer who is often referred to as a Romanticist. Most significantly, though, he was a quintessential composer against the wishes of his family. His reputation preceded him and there are few who can challenge his place in European classical music. Born in Germany, Telemann was actually made in Austria where his parents ultimately emigrated to Italy. He attended the University of Tubingen, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in zoology, taking four years while studying in Europe and one year in East Africa.
After graduation, Telemann traveled to Paris, France where he spent three years studying piano and he discovered a Composer named Samuel Barber. Barber was the younger son of an Italian violinist who played major compositions such as “Fantasia” for orchestra. Telemann’s early compositions were mostly piano compositions but he quickly discovered his talent for composing major compositions on the lute, clarinet, saxophone, and even the impanel. Barber had the foresight to include keyboards in some of his compositions which helped him gain further popularity in the French music circles.
Telemann began his career as a cellist and later on as a flautist, but he always remained true to his classical roots. After working in the publishing business for many years, Telemann decided to create his own music that he hoped would attract audiences from all walks of life. The first piece he composed was The Mysterious Island (written for violin), which he performed at the Teatro Real in Barcelona, Spain. This performance was followed by over one hundred thousand people who came to see this piece.
Telemann then went to the United States where he made a number of commercial appearances including a series of concerts in New York, Boston and San Francisco. In fact, the very same night that he performed this concert in San Francisco, Beethoven visited Telemann’s home to borrow some of his ideas for his upcoming compositions. Eventually Telemann wrote and performed another popular piece called The Serenade for two players, which he also composed in Paris. Another late baroque period piece that Telemann composed was Die Frage zur Adder (The Youthful Scandal) which was composed in Gotha in 1924. Other popular pieces by Telemann include Baroque Variations (late teens), Concierto for four hands (late twenties), Seminar for two players (1930), Suite for two hands (early thirties), String Quartet No. 1 (late twenties), Secretum (early twenties), Ambience for three players (late twenties), and The Nightwatch (late twenties).
As a composer/composer/performer, Telemann has written over a hundred musical works. Some of them have been covered by choirs and have been considered masterpieces. Telemann has also written for various television programs and films. Some of his most prolific composers are: La miglia (J. S. Bach), Dokken (J. S. Bach), Der Freunde (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), The Praeli Affair (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), The Great Big Sea (Eberhard Weber), Das Boots (Rainer Weil), Androsfera (Rainer Weil), Viva La Vida (Rainer Weil), Gebra (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Der Fluchte der Kulturen (diegetic flamenco), Vialistas (Rainer Weil), Tristan and I’ve (Rainer Weil), and Der Alpendorfuehrer Nacht und Kreisschiffahrt (The Eagle and Child Picture).
In addition to his many concertos, duets, piano works, chamber music, piano works for operas, choruses, and his book series, Telemann has released a string of works specifically for string quartets and orchestra. Among these are Der Fluchte der Kulturen (The Eagle and Child Play), Vialistas (Rainer Weil), Vialerdos (Rainer Weil), Vesperssoie (Rainer Weil), Teilhard de Chardin (The Baroque), and Iphigenia (Iphigenia Brahman). Telemann is particularly proud of these eight complete works, which he says are among the finest examples of German composing he has ever seen. He believes that these compositions, if not written by Mozart himself, would have been written by him, as they share some of his characteristics, such as strong imagery, vivid descriptions, and highly individual musical styles. Ramin Djokovic, the producer of telemann’s opera Le Conte d’Avignon, believes that Telemann is unique in his approach and style of composition.
Most of Telemann’s opera and orchestral compositions are intended for solo performances. The exception are two such works, Vialistas and Androsfera, which were inspired by the Requiem for the King of Italy. Vialistas, which were composed in 1960, and Androsfera, which were composed in 1970, contain highly contrasting interpretations. However, both are successful pieces and have achieved popularity among listeners who prefer contemporary music. The use of orchestral suites in telosene, a dramatic form of opera, contributed significantly to the success of telemann’s opera Le Conte d’Avignon. The dramatic elements in this work made it a popular kerosene for the Academy Award Winners, with Robert Duvall and Keira Knightley winning for Best Actor in a Musical for Their performances in this play.
The popularity of telemann as an opera composer is owed primarily to his early engagement of avant-garde approaches to music. His early compositions, such as L’Amour de la Meuse (Lamentation of the Madonna) and L’Amour a La Suave (My Love of Truth), remain highly respected due to their unorthodox structure, which contrasts dramatically from the conventional structure of previous art Novellas. For many of the modernists, however, these innovative structure statements seemed too radical to conform with prevailing taste. However, even if these avant-garde tendencies were later adopted more conservatively by composers like Achieri and Vivaldi, they still found sufficient grounds to reject telemann’s prominence as an innovator. There are also instances when telemann’s name was wrongly spelled by some modernists.