Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Tuesday, June 25

Mendelssohn's Second

Synopsis

In the middle of the 15th century, a German printer by the name of Johann Gutenberg invented a method of printing from moveable type cast in metal. His invention revolutionized the way books were printed, and the widespread dissemination of Gutenberg Bibles made him famous in Europe.

In the summer of 1840, the city of Leipzig planned to unveil a new statue of Gutenberg, and commissioned composer Felix Mendelssohn for two new works. The first, for two choirs, would accompany the unveiling of the statue of Gutenberg, and would take place in the city’s open marketplace after the morning church service on June 24th. The following day, June 25th, there would be a gala concert in Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church featuring the church choir and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra performing a new symphony by Mendelssohn.

Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2, entitled “Lobgesang,” or “Hymn of Praise,” is modeled on Beethoven’s Ninth, opening with purely instrumental movements, and concluding with a finale for vocal soloists and chorus. Mendelssohn’s text was taken from Martin Luther’s German-language translation of the Bible. Since the premiere was intended for St. Thomas Church, where the master of counterpoint Johann Sebastian Bach had once been Kantor, Mendelssohn chose to end his Symphony with a big fugue.

Music Played in Today's Program

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847) Symphony No. 2 (Hymn of Praise) Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Chorus; Edo de Waart, cond. Fidelio 9202

Additional Information

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