Georg Philipp Telemann was born in Magdeburg, Germany. He came from a long line of ministers, so everyone expected him to become one, too. But as a kid, he learned to play several musical instruments, and taught himself to compose.
When Telemann went to the university in Leipzig, he was supposed to study law and forget about music. But his music-loving roommate found out that Telemann was a composer, and arranged to have one of his pieces performed. The next thing Telemann knew, he was writing music for the biggest church in town.
For a while, Telemann was a court composer, but eventually he got tired of working for counts and dukes. So he became a municipal music director — first for the city of Frankfurt, and then for Hamburg, a very important German port.
Unlike many composers, Telemann was famous and appreciated in his day. He was friends with most of his fellow composers, and was godfather to one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sons: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach has his middle name!