Georg Philipp Telemann wrote more than one hundred orchestral suites covering nearly the entire period he was active as a composer, from 1705 to 1765. Like his contemporaries, Telemann used the French word ‘ouverture’ for these works. At that period the language used to name a musical composition often indicated the style in which it was written. If the Italian word ‘concerto’ featured on the title page, the soloist could probably expect virtuoso passages; if the designation was French, as with the orchestral suites, tempos associated with the ‘courante’ and ‘passepied’ or the technique of ‘notes inégales’ were appropriate.
The overture originated in mid-17th century France. The first use of the genre was as an introduction to acts of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s court ballets (e.g. Alcidiane et Polexandre, 1658). Early French overtures were comprised of just two parts: a slow section, usually written in chord texture, and a fast fugue. Later they generally had a slow third part. The acts of a ballet, in their turn, represented suites from the overture and a series of dances.