This dissertation examines Telemann's nearly two hundred trios and quartets from style- and source-critical perspectives, tracing the development of the composer's musical language during the period ca. 1705-40 and establishing for the first time a chronology for the works preserved in manuscript. Chapter One is a study of the eighteenth-century dissemination and critical reception of Telemann's ensemble sonatas, focusing on Telemann's activities as publisher of his own works, eighteenth-century court and private collections containing sources for his trios and quartets, and contemporary theoretical accounts of ensemble sonatas.
The central portion of the dissertation, comprising Chapters Two through Four, surveys the repertory chronologically by genre. Telemann's ensemble sonatas are shown to reflect a broad range of musical styles, from the Corellian and post-Lullian emulations of the period ca. 1708-18 to the galant idiom of the 1730s. Particular attention is paid to Telemann's assimilation of the principal national styles, his application of the German "mixed taste," and his tendency to enrich the sonata with elements drawn from the solo concerto and aria. Paleographic evidence, supporting stylistic analysis, identifies a substantial number of trios that antedate Telemann's first printed collection, and indicates that works published as the Six sonates dans le gout italien, the Essercizii musici, and the Quatrieme livre de quatuors were composed a number of years before publication. On the basis of their suspect style and manuscript transmission, several trios and quartets are assessed as being of questionable authenticity.
Chapter Five treats those of Telemann's ensemble sonatas that adopt the formal syntax of Italian concertos. These "Sonaten auf Concertenart" tend to blur generic distinctions between sonata and concerto through manipulations of texture and scoring. The earliest of Telemann's works appear to be the first concerted sonatas composed outside of Italy. An examination of eighteen stylistically anomalous works traditionally considered to be quartets leads to their reclassification as ripieno concertos, or concertos for four-part string ensemble. Appendices include a transcription of a newly- discovered trio and catalogs of several dozen copyists' hands and over ninety paper types found in eighteenth-century manuscripts of Telemann's trios and quartets.