Horn Concerto

Georg Philipp Telemann

Horn Concerto in D major


About this work

The highly prolific Georg Philipp Telemann composed only this one work for horn among his many concertos for one or more instruments and orchestra.

The dates given for its composition are from the period when he was working either as court composer for Eisenach (beginning around 1708) or as city music director in Frankfurt-am-Main, after 1712. The lack of hard information about its composition means that there also are no clues as to which horn player Telemann had in mind when he wrote the concerto, but it can be inferred from the difficult writing that the performer was an advanced master of the instrument.

The work has pretty much the same layout and proportions of the typical Italian concerto of the time as exemplified by those of Antonio Vivaldi. That is, the concerto runs about nine minutes and is in the fast-slow-fast pattern. The title page says it is for "corno da caccia" and orchestra. That name literally means "hunting horn," but Telemann probably had in mind a standard concert horn, with crooks inserted to tune it in the high key of D.

The writing in the opening movement does suggest the instrument's origin as a means of giving signals during the hunt or on the arrival of post-carriages. Although the main theme is full of figurations with that suggestion, it is a fluent and melodic work, well advanced in musical imagination over simple horn calls. The second movement uses the horn in a slow, song-form piece with qualities of vocal music of the time, not excluding decorative touches in the melody. The finale is a minuet in the slowish regal tempo that was still standard for that courtly dance at the time.