Mendelssohn’s symphonic cantata in Gutenberg’s honor

Mendelssohn’s symphonic cantata in Gutenberg’s honor

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy received an order from the Leipzig City Council in 1939 to compose a work to be performed on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Gutenberg’s printing press. He struggled for a long time looking for the right musical form. In the end, he decided on a symphonic cantata and called it the Hymn of Praise.

At a big ceremony in the Leipzig church of St. To this is performed Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise. The premiere was a great success – it was the most performed work of his life. For about 15 years, Mendelssohn tried to compose multi-part works, but without satisfactory results, and Hymn took him to a new creative phase. It gave him a new impetus, for new deeds.

According to the new list of musical works, the Hymn is no longer among symphonies but vocal works. Namely, this work in B flat major is divided into two parts: instrumental and vocal. They are interconnected by a varied musical theme. The text is composed of biblical quotations and one gospel song. The theme is biblical because Gutenberg’s first book was the Bible.

Mendelssohn later expanded the Hymn by a few movements and lasted a little less than an hour, and the work was called the 2nd Symphony after his death.

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