You are on page 1of 7


A tale of two French suites: an early Telemann

borrowing from Erlebach

1. Johann Mattheson:
Grosse General-Bajt-Schule.
Oder: Der exemplartschen
Organisten-Probe (Hamburg,
1731; R/Hildesheim, 196S),
p. 174; translation from
Steven Zohn: 'The ensemble
sonatas of Georg Philipp
Telemann: studies in style,
genre, and chronology'
(unpublished PliD
dissertation, Cornell
University, 1995), P.T27.
(The original text reads: 'Ich
wurde des Lulli, Campra,
und anderer guten Autoren
Arbeit habhafft / und ob ich
gleich in Hannover einen
ziemlichen Vorschmack von
dieser Art bekommen / so
sahe [ich] ihr doch jetzo noch
tieffer ein / und legte mich
eigentlich gantz und gar /
nicht ohne guten Succes,
daraut'. A similar statement
occurs in the composer's 1739
Autobiography, printed in
Mattheson: Grundlage einer
Ehren-Pforte (Hamburg,
1740; R/Kassel, 1969),
2. See Ian Payne: 'Telemann
and the French style:
transformative imitation
in the ensemble suites
(TWV51)', forthcoming, and
the references cited there.
3. Interestingly, Telemann
may have had enjoyed
connections with the court
of Count Aibrecht Anton
of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt,
which Erlebach served until
his death in 1714, from his
Leipzig days (1702-05).
A catalogue of the court's

HEN, IN HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY of [718, Telemann looked back at his

first professional appointment (170508), he described his studies
of French music as follows: 'I got hold of works by Lully, Campra.,
and other good composers, and altliough I had just acquired a considerable
taste of this style in Hanover, I now studied it more closely and completely
devoted myself to it, not without good success."

He was serving then as Kapellmeister to the court of the Francophile

Count Erdmann II von Promnitz in Sorau (now Zary in Poland), and his
statement resonates most strongly (though not exclusively) with the frantic
composition of so-called 'orchestral' suites. Research among his surviving
ensemble suites has put names to some of these anonymous 'good composers', thanks to Telemann's adaptation of selected passages from their
stage and instrumental works in a few of his own.' But it is likely that new
names will continue to surface as printed sources of French and German
music are explored. One of the latest names to have surfaced is Philipp
Heinrich Erlebach (16571714).' This talented Thuringian court composer
has been undeservedly eclipsed by his more famous contemporaries JCF
Fischer and Georg Muffat, both of whom produced collections of five-part
ensemble suites in the 1690s.'' The source in question is Eriebach's VI
\ Begleitet \ mit ihren deren schictlichen \ AIRS \ nach
Fran^osischer Art (Nuremburg, 1693).^ The Telemann work concerned,
TWV42:dii/' appears to provide two definite points of contact with
music holdings, compiled
sometime in the 17105 hy
Erlehach or his successors,
includes five unspecified
instrumental works hy
Telemann which must
have heen acquired during
Erlehach's tenure. Sadly, the
Hofkapelle's music collection
perished hy fire in 173^. (See
Znhn: 'Ensemble sonatas',
4. Fischer's Le Journal du
Printems (1695) is reprinted
in Orchestermusik des XVII.
Jahrhunderts: Johann Caspar

Fe rdinan d Fisch er Journal

du Printemps [undjJ.A.S.
Zodiacus, ed. Ernst von
Werra, DDT, x (Wieshaden
and Graz, (9^8). Muffat's
Florilegium Primum (i6i)^)
is ed. Heinrich Rietsch
Bd 2 (Graz, 19^9); and his
Florilegium Secundum (1698)
is ed. Heinrich Rietsch in
DTO,JahrgangI/i, Bd4
(Graz. 1959).
5. R1SME764. Thanks are
due to Dr Anders Edling,
Music Librarian of Uppsala

University Lihrary, Sweden,

for supplying a microfilm
copy of the library's
exemplar, and for his
courtesy in permitting
publication, in exx.i and 3,
ot my transcriptions from it.
rt. For a modern edition see
Georg Philipp Telemann:
Twelve trios, ed. Steven Zohn,
Recent Researches in Music
of the Baroque Era, 100
(Madison, Wl, 2000),
PP.99-T [3. The bar numbers
in my table (helow) relate to
this text.






A lale of two French suites: an early Telemann borrowing from Erlebach

Erlebach, using the technique of 'transformative imitation': or., in plain
language., the popular practice of ancient descent whereby the creator borrows material (a motif, or phrase, with or without supporting harmony and
any other parts) from a respected model, and proceeds to adapt and rework
it as an integral part of his own composition.^ This results in a genuine new
product in which the original material has benefited from a fresh critical
reading.^ All of the music is set out helow so that readers can judge the result
for themselves.

7. There is a vast literature

on this suhject, though
relatively little on its
application to music. (For
the ancient and Renaissance
literary background, GW
Pigman III: 'Versions
of imitation in the
Renaissance', in Renaissance
Quarterly 33 (1980),
pp.i-32, is essential reading.
'Transformative imitation'
is a term used in this seminal
study.) Much ot the musical
coverage of this method
concerns Renaissance
practices, and its most
widely-discussed Baroque
exponent is Handel. For a
more detailed analysis of
Telemann's borrowing
practices in TWV15,
numerous tresh examples
and some theoretical
background, see my article
referred to above and the
references cited there.
Background information
relevant to Telemann is also
summarised in Steven Zohn
with Ian F'ayne: 'Bach,
Telemann, and the process
of transformative imitation

The Journal of Musicology

i7/4(I'"all '999)'PP-'i4f'-84
8. Comparison has been
made since ancient times to

Telemann selected as his model passages from the fourth of Eriebach's VI

Ouvertures. Fach of these works comprises a French overture followed by a
lengthy suite of dance-related movements. In the tradition of Lully and his
disciples., all are scored for the French disposition of violin {dessus)^ three
violas {haute contre, taille, quinte) and continuo {basse). Telemann's work, in
contrast, is not an ensemble suite at all. Rather, it is an early example of a
closely-related genre, the trio alia francese.'' The little-known class of six
early trios (TWV42:Ai6,c4, Di6, e n and h5) to which TWV42:di i belongs
has recently been the subject of considerable scholarly interest.'" Scored for
two treble instruments and bass, these French-style works offer pronounced
Gallic dance-forms with features 'relatively undiluted by Italian elements'.
Probably composed at Sorau or Eisenach, and possibly conceived as a set,
they reflect the French penchant for published suite-based trios that emerged
so strongly in the t69os.
The main point of contact looks like a direct borrowing, for Telemann
uses the corresponding first four-bar phrase of Frlebach's 'Air Menuet I'
(ex.i), with its tell-tale iamb-trochee rhythm and distinctive bass, as the
opening phrase of his second movement ('En Menuet', ex.2)."
The similarity is not confined to melody and bass, however; Telemann
also extracts Eriebach's haute-contre statement of the opening motif 'x' (a'd"-ct"-d") and, prefacing it with two bars of rest instead of Eriebach's filling
material, creates the illusion of an imitative entry in the second dessus.
Another similarity less conclusive., though in the context highly suggestive
is the hint of Eriebach's F major end-of-section cadential block (reordered
the bee which takes its raw
material - the pollen - from
a tlower and turns it into
something new and better in this analogy, honey and
wax. See Pigman: 'Versions
of imitation', pp.3-7 for this
and other relevant ancient
9. That is, 'trio in the Frenchstyle ' (in other words, a
French-stvle trio sonata a

hybrid genre combining

Italianate trio-sonata scoring
with French dance
movements and other Gallic
style features).
10. See Steven Zohn: 'New
light on Quanta's advocacy of
Telemann's music',
m Early Music 2-) (1997),
pp.4416i. (TWV42:dii is
discussed at pp.44'), 448, 450,
452^3); and the editorial

introduction to Twelve trios.

ed. Zohn, especially p.xii on
which the remainder of this
paragraph is largely based.
LI. The bass chordprogression may be common,
but the actual movement of
the bassline (in particular, the
low D) is more distinctive.
Indeed, the shared bass is as
important as the melody in
suggesting a relationship.

Block X



J ^-




F-maiur cLidential block

J :

J ,J-

r r- F 'r


f r ^^ i"r pr







Ex.i: Erlebach: Ouverture no.4, second suite-movement., 'Air menuet I'


Winter 2006



A tale of two French suites: an early Telemann borrowing from Erlebach

F-major cadential block

Block X

shared melodic contour

Block X'

F-major cadential block



r r r r r I ^^ r


Ex.2: Telemann: TWV42:di i, second movement, 'En menuet', rondeau refrain (complete). Note especially: the initial
presentation of Bl()ck X, adapted from Erlebach; and the final eight-bar sentence, showing the adapted repetition of
Block X and two further allusions to Erlebach's material (F major cadential block, and shared melodic contour).

shared harmonic progression

Ex.3a: Erlebach: Ouverture no.4, sixth suite-movement, 'Air entree',
beginning of (1/8 section (outer parts only, inner parts not shown)



I" ir rr r

shared harmonic progression

Ex.jb: Teiemann: TWV42:di 1, first movement, first three bars (two i/ej-juj parts only, bass tacet)

Fig.i: Rondeau
structure of TWV42:d[i,
second suite-movement,
'En menuet'






!-8: X -t- answering phrase (open)

9-16: X' + varied answering phrase (closed)
(block X, 14, further adapted slightly as
X' in 912, is taken from Eriebacli)


'7-32: new, non-thematic material based on

continuous quaver movement


jj4o:<)i6'(tn dominant) concludes episode



As A above
57-S4: new, pseudo-imitative material


S!>()2:gH-i(tn relative major) concludes



As A above


109-24: new., pseudo-^a/ai material based

on the two dessus parts in thirds
125-33: new, canonic material in continuous
133-44: return to the style of 109-24



As A above

by Telemann and placed mid-phrase), the melodic outline with its bass at the
final phrase, and the relocation of bass motifs 'y' and 'z'.'"
No less significant., however, is the process of transformation to which the
simple four-bar unit is subjected in its new context. This is seen most clearly
in tabular form (fig.i).''
11. But not atl imitation
{imitatio) requires that
the model material be
transformed into something
with a unique, new identity.
According to Pigman
('Versions of imitation', p.6),
imitatio for the Latin writer
Macrobius had more to do
with simply reorganising the
original elements in a new
context. It could be argued
tliat this is what Teleniann
is doing with the minor
similarities mentioned in the
present paragraph.
IJ. The motto-like
recurrences of the eight-bar
sentence including Erlebach's
phrase (X') are italicised; it
should be stressed diat the

o HOW EXACTLY does Telemann set about transforming Erlebach's

music? He pays homage to Erlebach in two ways: first, by giving pride
of place in his rondeau refrain (shown complete in ex.2) a substantial
passage of the Thuringian's Menuet (Block X) which he retains almost as in
the original; he then uses the second of his two eight-bar sentences (X' +
answering phrase), motto-like, to round off his first two episodes.'^
Secondly, he rejects the model's primitive binary-form, and Its unremarkable
subdominant (G minor) and flat-leading-note (C major) target keys, in
favour of an extended, highly-developed rondeau form, and a stronger emphasis on the more dynamic relative major and dominant. Finally, to
guarantee an inventive context for his borrowing, he introduces sharply

continuation, phrase 'b', is

14. These transpositions.

which are strict, are not

shown here; but they may
be compared in the modern
edition. The technique of

repeating and transposing

retrain material in the
episodes is a common feature
of Telemann's rondeaux.






A tale of two French .mites: an early Telemann borrowing from Erlebach

contrasting new material in all three episodes. The result Is a far-reaching and
highly original transformation utterly in keeping with ancient principle, any
hint of plagiarism being neutralised by the scale and richness of Telemann's
new creation.
There is a further transformation of Erlebach in TWV42:dii which is
more throughgoing and therefore less readily identifiable with its alleged
model. In the opening loure-like, imitative movement ('Gravement'), Telemann seems to be operating much less literally, heavily disguising his model
by a process of fragmentation and melodic elaboration.'^ The following
similarities ('a', 'b', 'c') may suggest that the young Magdeburger allowed a
portion of the older man's composite 'Air entree' to influence both harmonic
progression and melodic contour (ex. 3). This last example would hardly pass
with flying colours J. Peter Burkholder's very fair and objective litmus test
for identifying a true musical borrowing, when he cautions: 'Let us define
musical borrowing broadly as taking something from an existing piece of
music and using it in a new piece. This "something" may be anything, from
a melody to a structural plan. But it must be sufficiently individual to be
identifiable as coming from this particular work., rather than from a repertoire in general."''

15. If the similarity is not

coincidental (and coincidence
is unlikely, given the context)
this transformation may
perhaps be intentionally
dissimiilative. (This is
defined as representing 'the
combination of concealing
and transforming: making
something new [...] and then
disguising the process that
has produced it'. Or, as a
1 fith-century theorist put it:
'Imitation lies hidden: it does
not stand out. It conceals
rather than reveals itself
and does not wish to be
recognized except by a
learned man' (Pigman:
'Versions of imitation',
p.ii).) Telemann usually

To be sure, in any other context, such an apparently random selection of

melodic and harmonic concordances might well seem more imagined than
real.'"' But context is all important in assessing the quality ot the evidence.
The fact that these outlines between outer parts occur in the same two works
as those which share the much more tangible block-borrowings - if exx. i and
2 are accepted as genuine - proves that Telemann knew Erlebach's composition and leads us to expect (or at least not be surprised to tind) other
traces of borrowed material in close proximity to it. This correlation must
logically increase the strength of ex.3 ^^^ therefore its significance as
circumstantial evidence.
To conclude, it is worth pointing out that Telemann's main transformative
practice in this work, represented in exx. 1 and 2, mirrors exacdy his approach
in transforming Campra and Fux:'^ working on two distinct levels, he not
only lifts an actual block of material from the model, which he changes but
slightly as in our first example; he also appears to be influenced by smaller
makes his borrowings patent;
but I have noted elsewhere
(see 'Telemann and the
French style') a potentially
dissimulative example from
Muffat's florilegium
16. 'The uses of existing
music: musical borrowing as

a field', in Notes 50/3 (1994),

17.1 am grateful to Professor
Steven Zohn tor reading
this article in draft, and
confirming the impression
given by ex. j namely, that
this evidence is of a lower
order than the much more

tangible material presented

in exx.i and 2. However,
as stated above, the very
purpose of dissimulative
transformation (if that is
Telemann's intention here) is
to disguise relationships.
18. See Payne: 'Telemann
and the French style'.

19. clearly, ihere is no means

of knowing whether the
second method is deliberately
disguised, and therefore an
example of dissimulative
transformation referred to
in n.i^ above; or whether the
disguise is a result of purely
tnusical procedures, as the
composer simply treated his
model more treety.
20. Readers can judge for
themselves the quality of
Erlebach's music. Two of
the other ouvertures (nos.5
and fi) from his 1(193 set are
recorded on Philipp Heinnch
Erlebach: Ouvertures /
Sonatas. Berliner BarockCompagney, WDR
Capriccio 67 074 (2004).

units as well - perhaps a simple progression, bass motif, or melodic contour

no longer than a bar or two which he detaches from their original phrase
and adapts and reorganises in the new context of his own original material."-'
Ex.3, if accepted, represents a further (and deliberate) obfuscation of
borrowed melodic and harmonic contours.
HIS IS THE ONLY INSTANCE of Telemann borrowing from Erlebach's
VI Ouvertures known to me: certainly, none leaps from the pages of
any of the one-hundred-plus ensemble suites in TWV55; but with a
composer of Telemann's fecundity one can never be sure that other Erlebach
concordances will not be noted in works from other classes. In any case, it is
good to be able to add yet another entry, however small, to the everexpanding catalogue of Telemann's borrowings from other composers. It is
perhaps unlikely that this will ever equal the huge catalogue of Handel's
borrowings; but every newly-discovered, demonstrable reworking of preexisting material adds to our knowledge of the composition process. And this
one is all the more satisfying because the VI Ouvertures of Erlebach, a gifted
and undeservedly neglected Lulliste,^" has never before, to the best of my
knowledge, been identified as a model for Telemann's instrumental music.

Ian Payne is an Associate Lecturer in Music with the Open University.


Winter 2OoG