German Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist (14 March 1681, Magdeburg, Germany - 25 June 1767, Hamburg, Germany).
Telemann was one of the most prolific composers in history and was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the leading German composers of the time. He was compared favorably both to his friend Johann Sebastian Bach, who made him the Godfather and namesake of his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and to Georg Friedrich Händel, whom Telemann also knew personally. Telemann's music incorporates several national styles: French, Italian, and Polish. He remained at the forefront of all new musical tendencies and his music is an important link between the late Baroque and early Classical styles.
As a child he showed considerable musical talent, mastering the violin, flute, zither and keyboard by the age of ten and composing an opera (Sigismundus, on a text by Postel). His family did not approve of his involvement in music, and upon his mother's insistence, he entered the University of Leipzig to study law in 1701.
Within a year of his arrival in Leipzig he founded the student Collegium Musicum with which he gave public concerts (and which Bach was later to direct), wrote operatic works for the Leipzig Theater, and in 1703 became musical director of the Leipzig Opera and was appointed organist at the Neue Kirche in 1704. Needless to say, he dropped the study of law and pursued his career in music.
Telemann held important positions in Leipzig, Żary, Eisenach, and Frankfurt before settling in Hamburg in 1721, where he became musical director of the city's five main churches. Throughout his life he composed a year's worth of cantatas for regular church services and 78 services for special occasions totaling 1,043 cantatas, 40 operas, 600-700 orchestral suites, 44 passions, along with numerous concerti, sonatas and chamber music for various instrumental combinations.