During Telemann's lifetime "Die Donnerode" was one of his most popular sacred works. It was written following the devastating earthquake in Lisbon in 1755.
The great success of the first performance in St. Jacobi in Hamburg in 1756 encouraged Telemann to write a second part to the work in 1760, expanding "Die Donnerode" to make a complete oratorio. The work continues to be performed in this form today.
The basic structure of "Die Donnerode" is a psalm cantata for soloists, chorus and orchestra. The texts and choice of instrumentation make reference to the threatening natural phenomenon of the earthquake. Telemann exploits all the musical possibilities offered by the text, creating a powerful oratorio in which trumpets and timpani play an important role.