Thursday, June 25
In the Guiness Book of Music Facts and Feats, the record for "Most Prolific Composer" goes to Georg Philip Telemann, who died on today's date in 1767 at the age of 86. And longevity gave an edge to productivity: Telemann outlived his prolific contemporary, J.S. Bach, by 21 years, and outlived Handel by 12.
But even considering the extra years he lived, Telemann's output is staggering. Of Bach's cantatas, some 200 or so survive, but Telemann's number 1400. He also wrote 125 orchestral suites, 125 concertos, 130 trios, 145 pieces for solo keyboard, and about 50 operas.
Most composers (if they are lucky), publish one autobiography; Telemann published three, and commented in one of them, "How is it possible for me to remember everything I wrote for violin and winds?" Sometimes, in addition to composing original music, Telemann was also asked to perform it: "A few days before I play a violin concerto," he wrote, "I always locked myself away, fiddle in hand, shirt-sleeves rolled up, with something strong to calm the nerves, and practice."
Fortunately, Telemann seemed to find musical inspiration everywhere, including from the pop and folk music of his day. As he put it, "One would scarcely believe what wonderful ideas pipers and fiddlers have when they improvise while dancers pause for breath. An observer could easily gather enough ideas from them in eight days to last a lifetime!"
Music Played in Today's Program
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 - 1767) Violin Concerto in A (The Frog) Pavlo Beznosiuk, violin; New London Consort; Philip Pickett, cond. London 455 621
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