“Freuet euch des Herrn, ihr Gerechten” (Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones): the beginning of the oratorio for the “Banquet of Joy of the Gentlemen Civic Captains” from 1724 might well serve as the general heading and motto for a whole group of works by Georg Philipp Telemann. This group of works, formed by his Kapitänsmusiken (captain’s music compositions), reflects the political, economic, and cultural situation in Hamburg – indeed, the whole life of this city – during the first half of the eighteenth century and in this respect is hardly matched by any other group of works within his oeuvre. On 15 October 1721 Telemann was installed in his office as Hamburg City Music Director in a festive ceremony. A little later, in 1723, he inaugurated his long series of festive compositions in honor of the captains, each consisting of an oratorio and a serenata. Beginning around 1740 they were generally designated as the Kapitänsmusiken.
We have first and foremost the Magdeburg Telemann scholar Willi Maertens to thank for having rescued these works from obscurity and for having freed them from prejudicial evaluations and false pronouncements, so that today they can occupy their fitting place within Telemann’s overall oeuvre.
(Bert Siegmund, translation by Susan Marie Praeder)