As I mentioned a few weeks ago, 2009 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn, and I expect to hear and hopefully perform a lot of his music this year. The chorus I rehearse with on Monday nights is singing three works by the composer in our March concert, and I like all three, but my favorite is Verleih' uns Frieden, written in 1831, which was about the middle of Mendelssohn's heyday of composing:
As you can probably guess just by listening to that last clip, Mendelssohn was a master of melody. You can also tell by listening to the opening bars of any of the three movements of his violin concerto. The first movement's clip (chosen for where in the music the clip originates) is played by Israeli violinist and former child prodigy, Maxim Vengerov, and the last two movements are played by the incomparable Joshua Bell:
Mendelssohn was from a family with a strict work ethic--his father made Felix and his three siblings (including his older sister Fanny, a brilliant though unknown pianist and also a prolific composer in her own right) learn music, French, English, Italian, Latin, Greek, math, history, geography, politics, art, and foreign literature, among other things. Makes what we try to get done at home seem almost laughable, somehow.
Anyway, I'll save other enjoyable Mendelssohn compositions for another day. But before I post, I must tell you all about the live, HD broadcasts of Metropolitan Opera performances--live from New York, selected operas are broadcast on movie theatre screens around the U.S. and internationally! Check here to see if one is coming to a theatre near you. I'm planning to go this Wednesday night to an encore performance of Massenet's Thaïs with Renee Fleming singing the title role. The next live performance is scheduled for this Saturday at 2 p.m. EST: Puccini's La Rondine.
Bravo to the Met!