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Classical Composers A-Z: George Philippe Telemann

Peter Wintersgill presents a pen portrait of George Philippe Telemann who, as a child prodigy, could play four instruments and also compose when he was 10 years old.

Born
14th March, 1681, in Magdeburg.

Childhood
A childhood prodigy, could play four instruments at 10, also compose arias, motets and instrumental works.

Adolescence
Founded Collegium Musicum at Leipzig, while reading languages. Was largely self taught in composition by reading scores of the masters.

Adult Life
One of the most prolific composers ever, wrote as much as Bach and Handel together.

Father wanted him to study law, which he did briefly, but soon gave it up in favour of music.

He moved about a lot before settling in Hamburg, became Musical Director there in 1721. He knew Bach, was godfather to his son Emanuel. He also knew Handel, who said, "Telemann can write an eight part motet as quickly as most people can write a letter.

He wrote 40 operas, 600 French overtures, 200 concertos, 44 passions, 12 sets of cantatas, as well as plenty of chamber music.

He died 25th June, 1767, in Hamburg, aged 86.

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