Franz Liszt and the creation of the tone poem put program music 'on the map', but music written to tell a story had been written long before that. Many composers used flutes to imitate birds, drums and trumpets to imitate martial music, horns to imitate the hunt. Music like this was not common, but it did exist. French composers of the Baroque era especially wrote music with a 'program', at least in the sense that the pieces carried a title that helped express the music. The French orchestral suite was developed into a form that made use of descriptive titles for the individual pieces, and Georg Philipp Telemann helped to popularize the French orchestral suite in Baroque-era Germany.
|Don Quixote by Gustave Doré|
Telemann's Suite For Orchestra 'Burlesque de Quixotte',by its very designation as a burlesque, is meant to be a light-hearted tribute to the novel Don Quixote by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. The book was itself looked upon (and was written to be) a humorous one as the translation from the full title shows: The Ingenious Low-Born Noble Don Quixote of La Mancha. Telemann's suite is written for strings and consists of an overture with six titled pieces in the form of Baroque dances:
Don Quixote Attacks The Windmills - In his rag-tag armor, make-shift helmet and lance, Don Quixote's delusions of grandeur have caused him to see windmills as monsters and dragons to be slain. The music's rapid tempo and repeated notes represent his imagined foes.
Pining For The Princess Dulcinea - Of what use is a knight's courage if he has no princess to fall in love with? Don Quixote imagines a peasant woman he has seen as his princess and names her Dulcinea, and longs to tell her how much he loves her. The strings play hushed sighs and the music stops and starts in sympathy with his feelings.
Sancho Panza - Don Quixote's rotund manservant Sancho is portrayed as he is jostled and mocked by villagers.
The Galloping Of Rosinante and Sancho's Galloping Donkey - Don Quixote's horse Rosinante is heard galloping in a steady in three tempo. Sancho's stubborn lurching donkey is portrayed in music that pauses and dotted rhythms. Rosinante is heard once again to finish the scene.
The Sleep Of Don Quixote - Telemann's Don is put to sleep and has happy dreams of his conquests in jaunty music that ends gently.