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Classical 101

Mendelssohn's Italian Inspriation

German composer Felix Mendelssohn wrote several popular works inspired by his travels in Europe, the Hebrides Overture, the Scottish Symphony, and the Italian Symphony.  On Symphony at 7 tonight we have the Fourth Symphony titled, Italian. It is one of his happiest and most joyful creations, yet he appeared to be unsatisfied with it and it wasn't published until 1851, after the composer's death.  Mendelssohn himself conducted the first performance in London in 1833, where it contributed to his popularity in England, along with other works such as the oratorio Elijah.  Despite the symphony's successful premiere, Mendelssohn revised it in 1837, then kept tinkering with it, hoping to improve it. Maybe sometimes it's better just to leave well enough alone.  The joyful spirit of the Italian Symphony has delighted listeners for a long time, and it's not hard to understand why.  With the great melodies, rhythmic verve, and keen articulation required for passages in the opening and closing movements, this symphony keeps the performers as well as the audience on its toes.  The final movement is a spirited Salterello, an Italian folk dance Mendelssohn heard during the Roman Carnival of 1831 and brings the symphony to a whirlwind of a close. Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony is on Symphony at 7, and here's a sample: http://youtu.be/KhstAEaWBl4