Studies of musical Rezeptionsgeschichte tend to construct and privilege an "official" history based largely upon the writings of scholars, critics, and lexicographers-sources full of authoritative opinions and verifiable facts. Often devalued in this process are "unofficial," unverifiable, and apparently less serious sources such as published anecdotes, which may in fact have no less to tell us about how posterity viewed a given composer. The posthumous reputation of Georg Philipp Telemann is a case in point. Almost universally revered during his lifetime but gradually reduced to the stature of a large Kleinmeister by late 18th- and early 19th-century critics and scholars, Telemann is featured in a number of anecdotes published between 1776 and 1830. These stories, some of which owe their origin to Telemann himself, reveal a more variegated picture of the man and his music than that crafted in contemporaneous intellectual circles. Aside from portraying Telemann as a sharp-witted musician who "thought quickly and beautifully," they illuminate several anecdotal archetypes and biographical tropes that served to demystify the nature of genius for musical Liebhaber, the main consumers of such tales.
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