Interesting Facts


Prominent artistic personalities comment on their personal relationship to Georg Philipp Telemann.


David Stern (conductor)

Do you remember your first encounter with Telemann’s music or do you associate a special experience with it?

I had my first encounter with Telemann through the a-minor suite for recorder which was performed on flute by Jean-Pierre Rampal. Of course, the interpretation of the piece was very romantic, but the elegant emotional tone of the dances matched Rampal’s style and so he submitted with best highlight the many wonderful effects, which reside in the piece.
I was a young student at that time and accompanied a number of musicians on the piano. This piece became one of my first „earwigs”. Today I would only perform it by recorder for sure, but nevertheless, I shall have Jean-Pierre in mind while playing it.

Which Telemann composition(s) would you take with you to the legendary desert island?

As much as I love it to perform Telemann’s vocal works, I would still, if I had to choose for only one piece, decide for Telemann’s „Tafelmusik”. This work is an example for Telemann’s seemingly boundless imagination and his enormous variety. There are whole themes which are derived from one octave as well as wonderful combinations of different instruments and you are always surprised by the variations which are carried out from movement to movement. In my opinion, Reinhard Goebel’s recording of the „Tafelmusik” is still one of the most successful and it would find a space in my backpack on the way to the lonely island.

What would you like to talk about with Telemann over a glass of wine?

There would be two things I would talk about with Telemann over a glass of good wine – he was a bon vivant after all. As we all know, Telemann’s life and work discipline made him compose an abundance of works.

What I find remarkable is how he makes the transition from Baroque to the gallant style of the early classical period, which is clearly shown in works like „Ino” or „Der Tag des Gerichts” („The Day of Judgment”). Therefore, I would have discussed his part in the turn of the era and would have asked him if he had the feeling to follow a new trend or rather take part in the creation of a new composition principle. His approach to the new style is found more commonly within the movements of his later pieces, as if he was aware of the development towards a new energy and clarity of sound. Did he really see it as progress or did he just fulfill the wishes of the former audience?
On the other hand I’d like to talk about Telemann’s sensitivity to compose in many different languages within one piece of music, for example in „Orpheus”. He demonstrates his compositional ability when changing from French to German and then to Italian, after all.
More than once it looks as if he used the language with a certain sarcasm but that is possibly just a modern interpretation.
Anyway, I would like to meet his stance on this issue.

What does Telemann have that other’s do not?

As already mentioned, I find that Telemann’s talent lies in the combination of his elegant sentimentality, his sagacity and his operatic imagination encountered even in is instrumental music.
He was a musical dramatist and his variety of colors and textures as well as his comprehensive use of various genres and motifs give him a musical flavour I always find invigorating.

[Source: Telemann aus Magdeburg. 50 Jahre betont. Program of the Magdeburg Telemann Festival, 9.-18. March 2012, page. 37.]