Italian early music ensemble Il Giardino Armonico (English: The Harmonious Garden) performs Georg Philipp Telemann’s Paris Quartets (Quatuor Parisien) No. 12 (Chaconne).

Italian early music ensemble Il Giardino Armonico performs Georg Philipp Telemann’s Paris Quartets (Quatuor Parisien) No. 12 (Chaconne)

Telemann’s Quatuor Parisien (Paris Quartets)

The Quatuor Parisien (“Paris Quartets”) is a collective term for two sets of chamber music compositions by Georg Philipp Telemann, composed during his highly successful visit to Paris in 1737-38. Each set contains six works written for a mixed ensemble of flute, violin, viola da gamba (or cello), and continuo. These quartets, first published in 1730 and 1738, reflect a cosmopolitan blend of French, Italian, and German musical styles and are considered among Telemann’s most important and innovative works.

History and Context

Telemann’s journey to Paris was the culmination of his growing European fame, facilitated by the wide distribution of his music in print. Invited by four distinguished French musicians-flautist Michel Blavet, violinist Jean-Pierre Guignon, gambist Jean-Baptiste Forqueray, and an unidentified cellist known as Prince Édouard-Telemann was prompted to compose the first set of these quartets, originally titled “Quadri.” These were published in Hamburg but were reprinted in Paris by Le Clerc in anticipation of his arrival. The second set, titled “Nouveaux Quatuors,” was composed and published directly in Paris during his stay.

Musical Analysis

Telemann’s Paris Quartets creatively combine different national styles:

The “Quadri” feature pairs of Italian concertos, German sonatas, and French suites, possibly inspired by François Couperin’s concept of blending national tastes (“goûts réunis”). The first quartet serves as a prelude, using a quasi-improvisational style that introduces themes developed in subsequent quartets. This set showcases Telemann’s skill in utilizing a flexible instrumental setup, allowing for a rich interplay between the gamba and cello, and featuring equal thematic participation from all obbligato instruments.

The “Nouveaux Quatuors” consists entirely of suites, further developing the integration of different national styles and emphasizing the equal importance of each instrumental voice. These suites maintain the fusion of styles seen in the first set but with a fresh appeal that resonated well with the Parisian audiences of the time.


Telemann’s works were exceptionally well-received in Paris. The performances, likely featuring Telemann himself on harpsichord, captivated both courtly and city audiences, enhancing his reputation across Europe. Critics and contemporaries praised the quartets for their inventive blending of styles and the virtuosic demands they placed on performers. Johann Adolph Scheibe and Johann Joachim Quantz, notable figures in early music criticism, discussed these compositions in terms of their unique challenges and the effective combination of different instrumental timbres.


The Paris Quartets not only cemented Telemann’s fame during his lifetime but also contributed significantly to the development of chamber music. By blending various national styles, Telemann pushed the boundaries of what could be achieved in quartet writing, influencing contemporaries and subsequent generations of composers. Despite the passage of time, these works continue to be celebrated for their innovative structure, the exquisite interplay of instruments, and the delightful melding of cultural influences, reflecting the vibrant and diverse musical landscape of 18th-century Europe.


M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

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