Chorale Celebrates Haydn & Mendelssohn

Article excerpt

In celebration of Franz Joseph Haydn and Felix Mendelssohn's musical contributions during their lifetimes, guest conductor Predrag Gosta will lead the National Philharmonic Chorale in a performance of Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass and Mendelssohn's grand Symphony No. 2, "Hymn of Praise," on Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 8:00 pm at the Music Center of Strathmore. The evening will celebrate Mendelssohn, born in 1809, and pay homage to Haydn's passing 200 years ago.

Haydn was born March 31, 1782 in the small, Austrian village of Rohrain. From an early age, his parents noticed his musical talent but knew he would have no chance of developing his skills if he remained in Rohrain. When Haydn was six-years-old he went to live with his relative and choirmaster in the nearby town of Hainburg. Two years later, while singing with the church choir, Haydn caught the attention of Georg von Reutter, the director of music at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. Haydn moved to Vienna to live and study music with von Reutter.

After leaving the von Reutter household, Haydn spent a large portion of his adult life working as a court musician for the Hungarian Esterhazy family. During his thirty years with the Esterhazy family, Haydn produced many works including the Paris Symphonies and the orchestral version of The Seven Last Words of Christ.

When Prince Nikolaus of the Esterhazy family died, Haydn was freed from his responsibilities to the family, which allowed him to travel to London and conduct symphonies with a large orchestra. During this period, Haydn attained fame and success and he generated some of his most famous works including the Rider quartet, the "Gypsy Rondo" Piano Trio, and the Surprise, Military, Drumroll, and London quartets.

A teacher of Ludwig Van Beethoven and a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Haydn is remembered as one of the most prominent composers of the classical period. Haydn is sometimes referred to as "father of the symphony" and "father of the string quartet" because of his musical contributions.

The Symphony will perform Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, named for the British admiral who defeated Napoleon in Egypt and Italy. The mass calls for dramatic soaring runs for the soprano and culminates in a jubilant finale. The celebratory work is scored for three trumpets, timpani, strings and organ.

Mendelssohn was born in 1809 in Hamburg, Germany, and like Haydn, his family noticed his musical talents from an early age. At age seven, Mendelssohn and his family moved to Berlin, where he began studying piano and composition. The son of a wealthy banker, Mendelssohn was surrounded by intellectuals who had a positive impact on his artistic development.

By age 14, Mendelssohn had already written 12 string symphonies. At 16, he wrote his string octet in E flat major, one of the most unique works at the time which used two full string quartets. Mendelssohn's Wedding March from his suite of incidental music to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, is one of his most celebrated works from his early years.

In 1821, Mendelssohn was introduced to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was very impressed with the young musician's talents. The two maintained correspondence and Mendelssohn later dedicated his B minor pianoforte quartet to Goethe.

From 1826-1829 Mendelssohn studied at Berlin University, and upon completion of his studies, he arranged and conducted a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion in Berlin. In addition to reviving Bach's music, the performance increased Mendelssohn's status in the music world. During the following years, Mendelssohn traveled to England where he premiered many of his major works.

Mendelssohn became conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1835, where he concentrated on developing music throughout the city and not just within the Orchestra. Part of this development included his founding of The Leipzig Conservatory, a music school, in 1842. …