Concerto Polonois in G Major

By Georg Philipp Telemann

The years from 1720 to 1750 were, from the perspective of the present, dominated by Johann Sebastian Bach; but for a musically aware person of the period Georg Philipp Telemann was the foremost musician of his day. His music, while firmly rooted in the contrapuntal intricacies of the Baroque style, served as a bridge between the old methods and the emerging Classical style of simple textures, clear harmonies, and elegant melodies.

Telemann founded the first series of public concerts, taking music from the spheres of court, church and opera house into the realm of audiences who wished to gather simply for the pleasure of listening. He saw that instrumental music in these other spheres was merely an adjunct to ceremony, contemplation or amusement, and that music could and should be appreciated as an abstract art, unadorned, and not subservient to other goals. His insight revealed a path that composers, performers, and audiences have trod ever since, leading directly to our concert today.

Although Telemann was the most prolific of 18th-century composers (a period when prolific composers abounded), he still found time to travel frequently and widely across Europe, absorbing musical influences from a wide variety of composers and nationalities. The “Concerto Polonois” was a result of a visit to Cracow, Poland, and it incorporates characteristic elements of Polish folk dance and presents them in the new compositional style.

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