F. Mendelsohn Violin Concerto: history, video, content

Felix Mendelsohn Concerto for violin and orchestra in E minor

"Wedding March". When you hear the name of this super popular work, the name of its author immediately comes to mind. Felix Mendelssohn is an outstanding German romantic composer who, with his creative work, made an invaluable contribution to the treasury of world music culture. In the heritage of the talented maestro there are many beautiful works that are rightly considered to be true masterpieces, and it is indisputable that the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E Minor occupies a special place among them. This composition, which brilliantly displayed the best talent of the composer, was one of the brightest examples of violin concert music.

The history of the creation of the Concerto for violin and orchestra in e-minor by Felix Mendelssohn, as well as interesting facts and musical content of the piece can be found on our page.

History of creation

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who became famous as an outstanding composer, was also an excellent organizer who founded the first conservatory in Germany and an excellent teacher who brought up many good musicians. It is important to note that MendelssohnBeing a very talented musician, he played not only the piano, but also body, the violin and viola. Possessing many talents, he also established himself as a remarkable conductor whom the orchestra called the best in his time.

So, in 1835, Mendelssohn, twenty-six, was invited to the post of head of the Leipzig Symphony Gevandhaus-Orchestra. Without thinking twice, he proposed to his friend, at that time already well-known violinist Ferdinand David, to take the role of accompanist in this creative group. Friendship of two outstanding musicians began in childhood. An interesting fact is that they were both born in Hamburg in the same house only with a difference of one year. In adolescence, Felix and Ferdinand's friendship was even stronger and then continued throughout his life, however, in addition to this, the two musicians were tightly tied by close professional collaboration.

For example, in July 1838, Mendelssohn in his message told David that he wanted to write for him a violin concerto, the theme of which is obsessively spinning in his head. However, from the moment when Mendelssohn wrote a friend about his plan and before he put the last point on the score of the piece, almost six years passed. This essay for Felix was like an obsession, because he decided to create something innovative, unlike what had previously been written in this genre. While touring or leaving for vacation, Mendelssohn continuously corresponded with David, constantly consulting with him about the concert. Ferdinand, being himself an excellent composer, composed a considerable number of violin pieces, with great pleasure gave the friend valuable advice, but at the same time he encouraged and hurried Felix with the end of work on the work. Meanwhile, Mendelssohn seemed to delay the publication of his concert, although at that time one work after another came out of his pen. It was during this creative period that symphonies No. 2 and No. 3 appeared, as well as music for the Shakespearean comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream". In addition, on behalf of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, Mendelssohn in the German capital was engaged in reform activities, which unfortunately ended for the composer with failure.

For whatever reason, Felix was slow in completing the work on the concert, today no one can explain specifically. However, there are suggestions that the composer has dried up the emotional uplift that initially inspired the melody of the main theme of the work. And a little strange is that Mendelssohn's poetic inspiration reappeared when he met Jenny Lynd. Felix passionately but unrequitedly fell in love with the Swedish Nightingale, as this talented singer was called in Europe. In 1844, the composer again actively began to work on the work, and with David, who by then became a professor at the Leipzig Conservatory, energetic discussions began again about the violin concerto. On September 16, 1844, the score was finally completed, and the premiere performance of the new composition was scheduled for March of the following year. Ferdinand David was supposed to act as a soloist, because it was for him that the concert was written, and the conductor was meant to stand behind the conductor. However, due to Mendelssohn's disease, the Gevandhaus orchestra at the premiere, held on March 13, was led by the second conductor, the Danish composer Niels Gade. The success of the concert was overwhelming: not only the public, but also critics accepted it with great enthusiasm. Six months later, on October 23, the performance was repeated again, but now the author himself conducted the concert.

In a short time, the work of Mendelssohn, which won great popularity, all famous violinists began to include in their concert repertoire.

Interesting Facts

  • Felix Mendelsohn dedicated his famous concerto for violin and orchestra to his friend, a wonderful violinist, composer and lecturer of the Leipzig Conservatory, Ferdinand David.
  • As Mendelssohn conceived, his E minor violin concerto turned out to be very innovative. Firstly, the work begins not with the introduction of the entire orchestra, as was practiced earlier, but with the theme that the solo violin performs. Secondly, the composer places the cadence not in front of the coda, but in the middle of the first part and at the same time does not allow the soloist to improvise, as was the case in the concerts of Mozart and Beethoven. Mendelssohn wrote the cadence of the soloist himself, so that her thematic material was stylistically linked to the work. Thirdly, the author, in order to make the composition perceived as solid and not be interrupted by applause from the listeners, combined all the sections of the concert. For example, he connected the first and second parts with a note performed by the bassoon. Perhaps this innovation of Mendelssohn marked the beginning of an applause to stop the performance of major works.
  • Annie Lind - a Swedish singer who inspired Mendelssohn so much that he could still finish her own masterpiece of the concert, responded to all the ardent feelings of the composer with indifference. However, Felix was so in love that for her was ready to leave his family, which then had five children. Mendelssohn offered Annie to flee with him to America, and if she refused, she threatened to commit suicide. The reason for rejecting the composer's feelings was the strong piety of the singer. She herself grew up in an incomplete family, she considered it a great sin to destroy the family and leave the children of Felix without a father. However, after the composer's death, Yeenny Lind, having left the stage, founded the Mendelssohn Foundation.
  • Felix Mendelssohn composed his first concerto for violin and string orchestra in D minor when he was only thirteen years old. This is a very virtuoso work in the mid-twentieth century, classical music lovers re-opened and performed the famous American violinist Yehudi Menuhin. The recording of the concert dates back to 1951.
  • A concerto for violin and orchestra by Felix Mendelssohn is considered a piece quite difficult to perform. Violinists consider it prestigious to have this composition in their repertoire. Many famous performers recorded this masterpiece, among which the most impressive are the performances of Joseph Suk (1964), Jong Kyung-Hwa (1981), Ann Akiko Meyers (1993), Robert McDuffie (1998), Daniel Hope (2007), Hilary Khan (2010 ), Ray Chen (2011), Philip Quint (2012).
  • In Leipzig in 2007, one of the embankments of the city canal after restoration was given the name of Felix Mendelssohn. Steps of the descent to the water are very similar to the lines of the musical staff, and the location of the allegedly chaotically arranged wooden seats on them resemble notes that make up the first theme of the composer’s minor violin concerto.


The concerto for violin and orchestra in E-minor by Felix Mendelssohn, which is a wonderful lyrical poem, absorbed the best features inherent in the composer’s creative appearance. Nobility, purity of feelings and endearing freshness are inherent in the music of the work. In addition, the soulful melodic riches, combined with virtuoso brilliance, give the opportunity to the soloist-performer to fully demonstrate all his skills.

The concert, as accepted by the works of this genre, consists of three parts.

First part (Allegro molto appassionato), enclosed in the form of a sonata allegro, begins with the most marvelous agitated theme, which was obsessively spinning in Mendelssohn’s head. The composer to the fore, instead of the orchestral introduction, almost immediately draws this melodious, attention-catching melody, performed by the solo violin. After holding the theme, and then the rapid downward and vigorous upward passage, the thematic relay is transmitted to the entire orchestra. Next, the connecting party also attracts with its emotionality, and the ascending chromatic intonations give it a special aspiration and vigor. It is initially held oboes and the first violins, and then transferred to the solo instrument. The secondary part of the first part is slightly different in character from the previous topics. It is imbued with the bright lyrics that are very characteristic of Mendelssohn’s music. The subsequent development is quite modest, as it is based on the development of the main and cohesive parties, in which there are no contradictory images. Its main function is to prepare the appearance of a spectacular cadence of the soloist, which, according to the composer’s innovative idea, was located not after the reprise, as it was before, but after the development was completed.

This is followed by a compact but dynamic reprise, leading to the culmination of the first part of the concert, which is enclosed in the code following it.

It is important to note that according to the composer’s idea that the applause of the audience does not violate the integrity of the work, the first and second parts of the work are interconnected. The lighted note "si" performed by the bassoon naturally connected the two sections together.

For the second part (Andante), written in three-part form, the composer chose the key of C major. The section begins with the very same note "si", which gradually turns into "before." Then the sound is gradually filled with woodwind and string instruments. The main theme, filled with lyricism, begins with the ninth bar. This flowing melody is singing expressively with a solo violin. The following is the central theme of the middle section, although it sounds melancholic, but for performance it is quite complex and requires significant technical skills from the performer. Gradually strengthening the elegiac mood in music, the composer prepares the listener for a contrasting final character and, in conclusion, he introduces a new theme, which is a connecting element with a bright final.

The third part (Allegro molto vivace). For the finale of the concert, Mendelssohn chose the form of rondo - sonatas and the tonality of E major. The final section of the concert, in which there are also no themes of contrasting nature, begins with the recruiting fanfare of wind instruments. Then, after four bars of the orchestra and violin roll, the graceful and impetuous melody performed by the solo instrument comes to the fore. Further, a cheerful dialogue is again unfolding between the violin and the orchestra, which leads to the next festive and jubilant marcheshike theme. The concert ends with a spectacular, enchanting coda.

Concerto for violin and orchestra in E minor - this is an outstanding work Felix Mendelssohn at the present time is considered one of the most popular works of violin literature. Not only outstanding performers, but also beginner musicians gladly include it in their repertoire, as the beautiful music of a truly ingenious creation never ceases to impress listeners with intimate lyricism, refined grace, temperament and richness of color.

Watch the video: BBC - The Birth of British Music: Mendelssohn The Prophet (November 2019).

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