TELEMANN - Twelve Fantasias For Flute Solo 2 12 - Flute J.P03:59

TELEMANN - Twelve Fantasias For Flute Solo 2 12 - Flute J.P. Rampal (LP 1972)


German native Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) was known as one of the most prolific composers of the late Baroque period. At that point in time, Telemann was a contemporary of J.S. Bach and was actually better known and received by the public than Bach. Telemann was trained in several different styles and experienced new cultures and traditions while traveling during his career. Telemann's works exemplified these influences by combining musical elements from the nations he visited. For example, his Paris Quartets (1730) consist of Italian style concertos, suites written in French style, and sonatas in German style (2). During his years in Hamburg, Telemann wrote several collections for unaccompanied instruments including violin, harpsichord, viola da gamba, and flute. From 1732-33, Telemann published his 12 Fantasias for Solo Flute arranged by key and progresses in stepwise order from A major to G minor.


Fantasia no. 2 in a minor is comprised of four seperate movements:

  1. Grave
  2. Vivace
    Telemann a min
  3. Adagio
  4. Allegro
When writing these twelve fantasias, Telemann experimented with different genres that were not commonly written for flute. For example, fantasias 2, 6, 8-11 are considered fugues, fantasia 7 resembles a French overture and fantasia 5 a Passacaglia. Overall however, each fantasia loosely resembles the form of an Italian sonata. Each fantasia begins with either a slow or fast introduction, which then moves into a movement with several themes ( fugue), a possible additional movement next and a closing section that resembles a dance style. Fantasia no. 2 in a minor is clearly constructed this way, with the movements alternating between slow-fast-slow-fast. As seen in the original manuscript, Telemann did not include specific dynamic, articulation or ornamentation marking. This is due to the performance practice of the time period. During this time, it was typical for the musician to improvise parts of the music and add their own embellishments. These aspects of Baroque performance practice were the first indications of virtuosic playing which later became popular in the 19th century. The twelve fantasias were originally intended for transverse flute, a Baroque recorder that preceeded the modern day flute. This flute was made of wood, which made the articulation less defined, but increased the variety in tone colors. 
Tr flute

This new trend in instrumental tone colors, as well as the influence of the galant style, led to a shift in compositional style. Solo melodies were given more importance and textures were simplified. Melodic lines began to emphasize a horizontal structure, streching  short motives laterally across the phrase (5 ). Solo melodies were very lyrical with an underlying perpetual motion that kept the phrase moving forward. These characteristics can be seen in Fantasia no. 2, especially in the Vivace section. 


Since Telemann and Bach were contemporaries of one another, there have been many parallels drawn between them. In this case, I believe there are many similarities between Telemann's 12 Fantasias and Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier collection for solo keyboard. First of all, both collections are structured in the same way for the same purpose: written in all major and minor keys progressing stepwise from A major to G minor. The purpose of this structure is pedagogical, allowing the student to learn and to be exposed to every key. In addition, both collections are comprised of preludes, fugues and dances all written to encourage the style of improvisation and embellishment. Since these pieces are mostly virtuosic solo melody lines, it not only teaches the student expression and phrasing, but also improves finger technique. 


Having played most of the Telemann Fantasias myself, it is very helpful to understand the performance practice of the time and familiarize myself with the characteristics of the instrument these pieces were written for. Since there are many descrepancies between the transverse wooden recorder and the modern day metal Boehm flute, it is crucial as a performer to learn the correct style and to be able to produce a variety of tone colors. Also, it is imparative for the performer to be able to emphasize the underlying melody and understand the direction of each phrase. These few things are significant elements of Baroque performance practice that are still executed today. 


  1. Ledbetter, David. Bach's Well-tempered Clavier: The 48 Preludes and Fugues. Yale University Press, 2002. Print. 
  2. Payne, Ian. "Telemann's Musical Style c. 1709- c. 1730 and J.S. Bach: The Evidence of Borrowing." JSTOR. Riemenschneider Bach Institute, 1999. Web. 30 April 2014.
  3. Telemann, Georg Philipp. "12 Fantasias for Solo Flute." IMSLP. Score. Accessed 01 May 2014.,_TWV_40:2-13_(Telemann,_Georg_Philipp)
  4. "Telemann- Twelve Fantasias for Flute Solo: 2/12-J.P. Rampal." Youtube Video. Posted by Gys6. Uploaded on 29 August 2010. Accessed on 31 April 2014.
  5. Toff, Nancy. The Flute Book: A Complete Guide for Students and Performers. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Print. 

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.