Monday, March 14, 8681
Georg Philip Telemann (1681-1767) - Oboe
Georg Philip Telemann (1681-1767)
Oboe Concerto in F Minor (c. 1711)
Trio Sonata No. 1 (c. 1714)
Georg Philipp Telemann (March 14, 1681 – June 25, 1767) was a German Baroque music composer, born in Magdeburg. Self-taught in music, he studied law at the University of Leipzig. Often described as the most prolific composer in history (at least in terms of surviving oeuvre), he was a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and a lifelong friend of George Frideric Handel. While in the present day Bach is generally thought of as the greater composer, Telemann was more widely renowned for his musical abilities during his lifetime.
Telemann traveled widely, absorbing various musical styles and incorporating them into his own compositions. He is known for writing concertos for unusual combinations of instruments, such as multiple violas or trumpets or oboes or harpsichords.
He held a series of important musical positions, culminating in that of music director of the five largest churches in Hamburg, from 1720 until his death in 1767.
Georg Philipp Telemann was born in Magdeburg, the capital of the Duchy of Magdeburg, in 1681. Telemann’s family was not particularly musical; his great-grandfather had served as Cantor at Halberstadt, but no one else in his direct family had been involved in music.
Telemann’s father died in 1685, leaving his mother to raise and oversee the education of the children. They were an upper-middle-class family, and many worked in the church. Telemann began to discover music at age 10, and quickly showed talent, composing his first opera by age 12. But this talent was not approved of by his family. Fearing that her son would pursue a career in music, Telemann’s mother confiscated all of his musical instruments and in 1693 sent him to a new school in Zellerfeld (1694-1698), hoping that this change would put the boy on a more lucrative career path. However, the superintendent of this school approved of his talents, and Telemann continued to compose and expand his knowledge of music on his own. By the time he completed his studies at the Gymnasium Andreanum in Hildesheim, Telemann had learned to play the recorder, organ, violin, viola da gamba, flute, oboe, chalumeau, double bass and bass trombone, almost entirely by himself. His travels had also exposed him to newer musical styles, and the music of Johann Rosenmüller and Arcangelo Corelli became early influences.
In 1701, Telemann entered Leipzig University intending to study law, perhaps at the request of his mother. It was not long before his musical talent was discovered, however, and he was commissioned to write music for two of the city’s main churches. Soon thereafter, he founded a 40-member Collegium Musicum to give concerts of his music. The next year, Telemann became the director of Leipzig’s opera house and cantor of one of its churches. His growing prominence began to anger elder composer Johann Kuhnau, whose position as director of music for the city had been encroached upon by Telemann’s appointment as a cantor. Telemann was also using many students in his opera productions, leaving them less time to devote to participation in church music for Kuhnau. Kuhnau denounced Telemann as an “opera musician”. Even after Telemann’s departure, Kuhnau could not regain the performers he had lost to the opera.
Telemann left Leipzig in 1705 to become Kapellmeister for the court of Count Erdmann II in Sorau (now Zary, Poland). Here he acquainted himself with the French style of Lully and Campra, composing many overtures and suites in his two years at the post. An invasion of Germany by Sweden forced Count Erdmann's court to evacuate the castle. Telemann apparently visited Paris in 1707; and was later appointed as a leader of the singers at the court in Eisenach, where he met Johann Sebastian Bach. The major position of Telemann's life was his appointment in 1721 as musical director of the five main churches in Hamburg, a position he would hold for the rest of his life. Here Telemann wrote two cantatas for each Sunday, as well as other sacred music for special occasions, all while teaching singing and music theory and directing another collegium musicum, which gave weekly or bi-weekly performances. Telemann also directed the local opera house for a few years, but this proved a financial failure.
When the position Kuhnau had once held in Leipzig became vacant, Telemann applied for the position. Of the six musicians who applied, he was the favored candidate, even winning the approval of the city’s council. Telemann declined the position, but only after using the offer as leverage to secure a pay raise for his position in Hamburg. When Telemann declined the job, it was offered to Christoph Graupner, who also declined it, paving the way for J.S. Bach. Telemann augmented his Hamburg pay with a few small positions in other courts and through publishing volumes of his own music.
Starting around 1740, Telemann’s output decreased as he began to focus more on writing theoretical treatises. During this time he corresponded with some younger composers, including Franz Benda and Telemann's godson, C.P.E. Bach. Following the death of his eldest son Andreas in 1755, Telemann assumed the responsibility of raising his grandson Georg Michael Telemann, and beginning the future composer’s education in music. Many of his sacred oratorios date from this period. In his later years, Telemann’s eyesight began to deteriorate, and this led to a decline in his output around 1762, but the composer continued to write until his death on June 25, 1767.
The Guinness Book of World Records lists Telemann as the most prolific composer of all time with more than 800 credited works. More recent studies, for example the thematic catalogues of his works published in the 1980's and 1990's, have shown that Telemann actually wrote over 3,000 compositions, many of which are now lost. Some of his pieces, thought lost, were recently uncovered by the musicologist Jason Grant. Many of the manuscripts were destroyed during World War II. (Another composer, Simon Sechter, could be considered more prolific, since he is thought to have written over 8000 pieces, but 5000 of these were short fugues.)
Telemann was highly regarded during his lifetime, and for several decades afterwards; however, by the first decades of the 19th century his works were performed less frequently. The last performance of a substantial work by Telemann, Der Tod Jesu, until the 20th century, was in 1832. Indeed, the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, which includes large articles on both J. S. Bach and Handel, does not contain an entry on Telemann.
The revival of interest in Telemann began in the first decades of the 20th century and culminated in the Bärenreiter critical edition of the 1950s. Early music ensembles now commonly perform Telemann's works and numerous recordings of his music are available.
Today each of Telemann's works is usually given a TWV number. TWV stands for Telemann Werkeverzeichnis (Telemann Work Catalogue). TWV is followed by a numeral, a colon, a letter and a number. The first number after TWV indicates the general type of medium, the letter after the colon is the key of the particular work, and the following number is the numbering within that type of work. For example, Telemann's Concerto polonois in Bb Major for strings and basso continuo is TWV 43:B3.
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois," "hoboy," or "French hoboy."
The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca. 1770 from the Italian oboè, as close as possible a representation in that language's orthography of the 17th-century pronunciation of the French word hautbois, a compound word made of haut ("high, loud") and bois ("wood, woodwind"). A musician who plays the oboe is called an oboist. Careful manipulation of embouchure and air pressure allows the player to express a large timbral and dynamic range.
In comparison to other modern woodwind instruments, the oboe has a clear and penetrating voice. The Sprightly Companion, an instruction book of 1695, describes the voice as "Majestical and Stately, and not much Inferior to the Trumpet." Similarly, the voice is described in the play Angels in America as sounding like that of a duck if the duck were a songbird. The timbre of the oboe is derived from the oboe's conical bore (as opposed to the generally cylindrical bore of flutes and clarinets). As a result, oboes are readily audible over other instruments in large ensembles.
The oboe is pitched in concert C and has a mezzo-soprano to soprano range. Orchestras will usually tune by listening to the oboe play a concert A (usually A440, but sometimes higher if the orchestra tunes to a higher pitch). The pitch of the oboe may be adjusted by permanently altering the scrape, removing cane from the reed, or changing the position of the reed in the instrument (although the latter method should only be used as a last resort, because adjusting the position of the reed may cause some notes to warble). Subtle changes in pitch are also possible by adjusting the embouchure.
The baroque oboe first appeared in the French court in the mid-1600's, where it was called hautbois. The basic form of the instrument was derived from the shawm, an instrument widely used in the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Musician and instrument maker Martin Hotteterre was responsible for many of the new instrument's early developments, according to one source, while another credits Jean Hotteterre and Michel Philidor, ca. 1657.
The instrument quickly spread throughout Europe (including England, where it was called "hautboy," "hoboy," "hautboit," "howboye," and similar variants of the French name).
It was the main melody instrument in early military bands, until it was succeeded by the clarinet.
The baroque oboe was generally made of boxwood and had three keys; a "great," and two side keys. (The side key was often doubled to facilitate use of either the right or left hand on the bottom holes) In order to produce higher pitches, the player had to "overblow," or increase the air stream to reach the next harmonic. Notable oboe-makers of the period are the German Denner and Eichentopf, and the English Stanesby Sr. and Jr. The range for the baroque oboe comfortably extends from c1 to d3. With the resurgence of interest in early music in the mid 20th century, a few makers began producing copies to specifications from surviving historical instruments.
Johann Mattheson (September 28, 1681 - April 17, 1764) was a German composer, writer, lexicographer, diplomat, and music theorist.
Mattheson was born and died in Hamburg. He was a close friend of George Frideric Handel, although he nearly killed him in a sudden quarrel, during a performance of Mattheson's opera Cleopatra in 1704. Handel was saved only by a large button which turned aside Mattheson's sword. The two were afterwards reconciled.
The son of a well-to-do tax collector, Mattheson received a broad liberal education and, aside from general musical training, took lessons in keyboard instruments, violin, composition and singing. By age nine he was singing and playing organ in church and was a member of the chorus of the Hamburg opera. He made his solo debut with the Hamburg opera in 1696 in female roles and, after his voice changed, sang tenor at the opera, conducted rehearsals and composed operas himself. He was cantor at the cathedral from 1718 until increasing deafness led to his retirement from that post.
Mattheson's chief occupation from 1706 was as a professional diplomat. He had studied English in school and spoke it fluently. He became tutor to the son of the English ambassador Sir John Wich and then secretary to the ambassador. He went on diplomatic missions abroad representing the ambassador. In 1709 he married an English woman.
After his death in 1764, Johann Mattheson was buried in the vault of Hamburg's St. Michaelis' Church where his grave can be visited to this day.
Mattheson is mainly famous as a music theorist. He was the most thorough writer on performance practice, theatrical style, and harmony of the German Baroque. In addition to some original work -- particularly on the relationship of the disciplines of rhetoric and music -- he was a compiler of most of the ideas current at the time.
The bulk of his compositional output was vocal, including eight operas, and numerous oratorios and cantatas. He also wrote a few sonatas and some keyboard music, including pieces meant for keyboard instruction. All of his music, except for one opera, one oratorio, and a few collections of instrumental music, went missing with the spoils of war after World War II, but was given back to Hamburg by Yerevan (Armenia) in 1998. This includes four Operas and most of the oratorios. The manuscripts are now located at the Staats and Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg, former Hamburg Stadtbibliothek.
Piero Weiss and Richard Taruskin
Music in the Western World: A History in Documents
The Complete Music Master (1739) (Pages 217-219)
[8682 Mouret / 8681 Telemann / 8678 Vivaldi]