Digital Program Bychkov

sister Fanny: "I have once more begun to compose with fresh vigor and the Italian symphony makes rapid progress; it will be the jolliest thing I've yet composed, especially the last movement". He left the slow movement until the summer, when he was in Naples, and finished the first version of the whole work on March 13, 1833, by which time he had been back in Northern Europe some eighteen months. He was pushed into finishing his symphony by a paid commission from the Philharmonic Society of London (this to include two other works as well) and he conducted the first performance in London on May 13, 1833. Mendelssohn was not satisfied with the work and a revised version was heard there on June 18, 1838. Still dissatisfied, he made yet more alterations and seemed averse to any performances being given in his native land. Almost two years after he died, on November 1, 1849, the symphony was performed in Germany for the first time, apparently lightly edited by his friend Ignaz Moscheles, and conducted in Leipzig by Julius Rietz, Mendelssohn's successor as conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra. The "Italian" Symphony was directly influenced by the light and brilliance of a Mediterranean summer, and Mendelssohn's immense talent for depicting landscapes and atmosphere through musical means is prominent here, as in the "Scottish". He declared that all of Italy is in this work: its people, its landscapes and its art. This symphony is very unusual in starting in the (A) major and ending in the (A) minor. The underlying rhythm of the first movement suggests an Italian dance, the tarantella, as the music beams its way brightly through an updated classical sonata-allegro form. The second movement is a solemn processional that may have been a pilgrims' march, and was probably motivated by Mendelssohn's experience of a religious procession in the streets of Naples. Moscheles thought the main tune was a genuine pilgrims' song from Bohemia. The third movement is a smooth-flowing minuet, with an ingratiating middle section. Here, Mendelssohn returned to the old-world grace of the slow minuet, though without so naming it. The Trio may owe its layout to the Trio in Beethoven's Fourth Symphony, yet transformed into something magically new. The finale is the most characteristically Italian of the symphony's four movements. It is in the style of a saltarello, a lively Roman or Neapolitan country-dance, dating from the sixteenth century. It is a leaping dance ( saltare = to leap), almost always in fast triple metre. It was inspired by some Neapolitan girls Mendelssohn saw dancing at Amalfi, a few miles south of Naples. He was there on May 31, 1831, as is known from the date on his exquisite pencil sketch of the little town and its mountain background. Apart from being a musical genius Mendelssohn was a gifted painter and many of his sketches depict his travel impressions, just as accurately as his musical output. This movement quotes passages from the first and second movements, thus giving this wonderful work its overall contour. Tsilli Rudik