They never knew how he did it. Few composers write more than one or two symphonies in their lifetimes. Beethoven spent a year on his shorter symphonies but more than six years on his 9th Symphony. The prodigy Mozart finished his last three symphonies (39, 40, and 41) in the span of a few weeks. His 25th Symphony took only two days.
None of these speed records match those of baroque composer Georg Philipp Telemann. Friends with both Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, he was the most prolific composer in history and considered to be a leading German composer at a time when giants roamed the earth. During his duties as court musician for Count Erdmann II of Promnitz in Poland, he composed at least 200 overtures in a two-year period. Over his lifetime Telemann's oeuvre consists of more than 3,000 pieces, although “only” 800 survive to this day.
Telemann was not the only person whose productivity defied all reason. Greek scientist Archimedes discovered mathematical phenomena that weren't confirmed for 17 centuries. He also single-handedly defended Syracuse from the Romans by building massive catapults, a huge iron claw that could pick ships up out of the ocean, and even a solar-powered death ray.
Ibn Sina was a medieval mathematician who wrote hundreds of treatises, including a medical compendium used in European universities for the next 400 years. Philipp II of Spain ruled a global empire from his throne in Madrid in the 1500s. Isaac Newton invented classical physics and was one of the inventors of calculus. Benjamin Franklin wrote, published, politicked, invented, experimented, and humored, sometimes all at the same time. Theodore Roosevelt won the presidency twice, was the first American to earn a belt in judo, hunted, wrote numerous books, and read four hours a day even during the busiest moments of his political life.
This book will explore the lives of the 17 most productive people in history.