Monday, May 3, 2010

Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20

I've been listening to a lot of romantic era music lately, something I've shunned for most of my musical study. I guess I wasn't that interested because the great composers of that time rarely wrote any music which could be played on our instrument - unlike in the Baroque, Renaissance, and 20th century composers.

It always bothered me that I didn't know most of the great masterpieces from Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, etc. If we are classical musicians, then we should be interested in all great art music - not just art music played on the guitar.

Lately my obsession has been Felix Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20 which I've been listening to and studying daily. It was composed in the autumn of 1825, when he was just 16. There's something remarkable about the feelings conveyed in this music - it's full of hope, optimism, and drama - typical of a 16 year old. At the same time, the craftsmanship is stunningly mature. If I had heard this when I was 13, I may have taken up the violin.

There's a digital copy of the manuscript online here.

Here is a playlist to the full piece -