and finally…

Any listing of Mendelssohn’s most popular works, would have his violin concerto somewhere near the top. His rethinking of the concerto form – started with his two piano concertos – here reaches its apogee; and the success of this remodelling can be measured by the plethora of famous near-imitations that followed it — the violin […]

Incidentally…

Incidental music n. music played as an accompaniment or ‘background’ to a play or film, or to a radio or other performance or entertainment. Oxford English Dictionary w   Our logo/featured image for this term – based on an early Augener edition of Mendelssohn’s 42 Songs Without Words for piano – comes to us courtesy of the […]

Open my heart and you will see/Grav’d inside of it, “Italy.”

What did holidaymakers do in the halcyon days before the internet, Wi-Fi, smartphones and tablets? They sent one another postcards, of course! And before the postcard?? In the 18th/19th century affluent young gentlemen and (rarely) ladies were packed off to do the Grand Tour; sent traipsing around Europe in the fond hope that – rather […]

The Overture to the Theatre Pension Fund

Victor Hugo’s play Ruy Blas is about a slave who falls in love with the queen of Spain; the feeling is reciprocated, but the story – inevitably – ends in tragedy. Mendelssohn didn’t like the play; and, when the Leipzig Theatre attempted to commission music for a benefit performance (for the theatre pension fund) of the work, he turned […]

A concerted effort

By all accounts Mendelssohn found the writing of concertos difficult. His main problem, it seems, was finding a balance between the – almost inevitable – virtuoso, show off/exhibitionist element of the concerto and the serious/profound music that he felt he should write. Despite –or maybe because of – the difficulty in reconciling these opposites(?), the composer […]

Making overtures (and waves)

Among its eight definitions of the word ‘overture’, the OED describes the musical kind as: An orchestral piece of varying form and dimensions, forming the opening or introduction to an opera, oratorio, or other extended composition, and often containing themes from the body of the work or otherwise indicating the character of it. Also: a […]

Prodigious

Not the work of your average 16 year old, but Mendelssohn’s Octet seems to capture brilliantly the feral excitement, boundless energy and sheer joie de vivre of youth. And so that’s where we’ll begin, with a work by a boy who in his mid adolescence  produced this, one of the masterpieces of a century peopled […]