Composers / Thomas Tellefsen / Places catalog
Tellefsen and early music
Thomas Tellefsen helped introduce Baroque music to a wide Parisian audience. The music of the eighteenth century had long been forgotten by concert hall patrons, but around the mid nineteenth century interest in early music increased considerably. In Paris and other European capitals, the music of past eras began to be performed in concerts, and compositions began to be printed anew. Tellefsen belonged to a strong group of serious musicians who were well versed in eighteenth-century music and actively disseminated it in Paris.
Tellefsen was able to join the group of early music performers thanks to his thorough study of the Bach tradition and the works of eighteenth-century music theorists during his youth. Two people in particular played an important role in this aspect of Tellefsen's education: his first teacher, Ole Andreas Lindeman, and his father, Johan Christian Tellefsen. Thomas Tellefsen's devotion to the Baroque tradition was evident in his performance, as he sought the most authentic style possible. Many reviews from the early 1850s refer to Tellefsen’s concert interpretations of the music of Couperin, Rameau and Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Sebastian Bach. The first performance reviewed in the Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris took place at the Salle Pleyel in January 1853. The programme included J. S. Bach's Concerto for Three Pianos, in which he was joined by the distinguished French pianists Valentin Alkan and Ferdinand von Hiller. That may have been a repeat of a Bach concert from 1833 given by Chopin, Liszt and Hiller. In December 1853, the Revue et Gazette published a review of a soirée at Tellefsen's in which the host played Rameau trios and J. S. Bach fugues on his own harpsichord. In 1856, Tellefsen performed for the first time in one of Delsarte's famous Concerts Historiques.
Charles-Valentin Alkan, pastel, c. 1835 Edouard Dubufe (creative commons).
Ferdinand Hiller, phot. Fritz Luckhardt, Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek (creative commons).
Maison Pleyel, salle de concert, Édouard-Antoine Renard,1855. BNF, Estampes et Photographie, Va 287, t. 3, folio.