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Sunday’s Worship Music

Sunday, July 15

Organ Voluntary
Adagio (from Sonata I in F minor) – Felix Mendelssohn

Offertory
I waited for the Lord – Mendelssohn
Kathleen Jasinskas, soprano; Charlie Hyland, baritone

THIS MORNING’S MUSIC hails from the pen of Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholody (1809-1847), a Renaissance Man if ever there was one. Beginning his career as a precocious child prodigy, often likened to the young Mozart, he made his public debut as a pianist at the age of nine. By his twelfth birthday he was already a prolific composer and had made a warm friendship with the 72-year-old Goethe. He would develop into an inspiring conductor, one of the great pianists of his day, an outstanding organist and a violinist. He possessed a wide literary knowledge, was a brilliant writer, corresponded in four languages, and was a gifted painter. (During my 2012 sabbatical it was my privilege to visit Mendelssohn’s house in Leipzig, where I saw an exhibition of some of his watercolors which included several completely recognizable views of Grindelwald, in the Swiss Alps, where I had been several weeks before. When the guard wasn’t looking, I even touched the keys of his piano.) In 1829 he conducted Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, its first performance since Bach’s death in 1750 and one of his several  important contributions to the revival of Bach’s music. He founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music in 1843 and was the conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra for eleven years. Not surprisingly, his untimely death at the age of 38 was due to severe overwork combined with the shock of his sister Fanny’s sudden death. This morning’s Voluntary is a movement from one of six Sonatas for organ commissioned by an English publisher. Ironically, they were all but unplayable in England at the time: unlike German organs of the period, typical English organs didn’t have enough pedals! The Offertory Duet is a movement from Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise, a sacred Cantata renamed Symphony No. 2 by editors after his death.