Research Seminar: Peter Young

Waking Sleeping Beauty in the digital age: The «Telemann project» as a case study in publishing early music

During his lifetime Telemann was one of the most famous musicians in Europe. To this day, though, he remains better known for the sheer size of his musical output, with literally thousands of instrumental and vocal works. While his instrumental music is increasingly performed, his vocal works, including operas, cantatas, passions and music for civic occasions, have not received the same attention. He wrote at least 1,800 church cantatas including at least 20 complete annual cycles. Despite efforts since the 1960s, until recently less than 25 percent of them had been published. 

The «Telemann project» ( is one initiative to bring these pieces to a wider audience. For the first time a complete cycle (the “Französischer Jahrgang” or “French cycle” from 1713-14, so called because of French stylistic influences), comprising 72 cantatas, is being recorded and published. It is an initiative of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz with several partners including SWR (South West German radio) and the German recording label cpo.

21 of the cantatas had previously been published. In 2020 Peter Young was invited to become a partner in the Telemann project and to prepare the remaining 51 editions from original sources. The cycle is being recorded over seven years and to date four of the 14 CDs have been released.

In this talk Peter will discuss his approach to publishing editions suitable for performance and examine the implications of online publication of early music for the musicological and commercial music publishing sectors.

Peter Young is an organist, harpsichordist and conductor who has worked with many of Australia’s leading musicians. He has been Musical Director of the ANU Choral Society, the Oriana Chorale and Coro; in each case he or the ensemble received a Canberra Critics Circle award. He founded Canberra Baroque in 2016 as a means of self-publishing rarely heard vocal works from the 16th to 18th centuries, using the original manuscripts and early printed editions as sources. He has prepared editions of about 500 Telemann cantatas, in addition to many works by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Henry Purcell and others. Full scores have been made freely available on the Internet and to date there have been over 200,000 downloads.

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