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Director's Notes on Don Quixote

We continue our Mediterranean theme for the season this month with a program of late 17th and 18th- century music associated with Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote which became a source of inspiration for Henry Purcell, Thomas D’Urfey, Georg Philipp Telemann, and many other musicians during the Baroque and beyond.  It seems obvious why this rich and open-ended novel had such a great appeal in the 18th century, when such things as love, justice, and class were of great concern to society (for instance, think of Beaumarchais, Mozart, and The Marriage of Figaro).


Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767) is a name that justly has become familiar to modern audiences. He was the most prolific composer of his time and a link between Baroque style and the new Classical fashion.  Telemann stands out even among his contemporaries. The Burlesque de Quixotte is one of about 125 of his orchestral suites, concertos, and hundreds of other orchestral works, keyboard pieces, and sonatas of all sorts.  Telemann also stayed current with developments in music theater, and his late serenata Don Quichotte (written when the composer was 80) is really an early example of the singspiel (song-play). This piece is distinct from the Burlesque de Quixotte and is focused on one episode from Cervantes, the shepherd Basilio’s despair at the impending wedding of his Quiteria to Comacho and Don Quixote’s improbably masterful intervention. The charming arias are song-like, there are many vocal ensemble numbers.  We have interpolated a few appropriate arias from this serenata in the groups with Telemann’s orchestral Burlesque, along with readings from the novel.




Listen to Telemann's "Burlesque de Quixotte" 


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Richard Jones. The booke of honor and armes. London, 1590

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