Sunday, March 17, 2019

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Notes on Other Music

Dr. Steven Seigart, Director of Music

Today’s Prelude and Introit come from Felix Mendelssohn, one of the first great Romantic composers—though both selections today show his considerable devotion to J. S. Bach, in whom he is singularly credited in reviving interest. The Prelude is an obvious homage to Bach’s many Prelude and Fugue pairs. The Introit is from Elijah, perhaps the greatest oratorio of the 19th century. In many ways, Mendelssohn was continuing the tradition of Handel and Haydn, but it is the use of chorales before or after scenes that connects Mendelssohn with Bach, who used chorales in the same way in his two surviving passion oratorios.

Little is known about Richard Farrant, except that he worked in the same circles at the Royal Chapel as William Byrd and Thomas Tallis (evident in today’s English anthem), and that he was very active in theatre, founding the first Blackfriars’ Theatre in 1576.

Scant historical accounts, popular legend, and a prominent film all weigh into the creation and composition of Mozart’s Requiem, and so the details have been blurred for many of us. We now know that Count Walsegg was the ‘anonymous’ benefactor, that Mozart died leaving the piece unfinished, and that Süssmayr (not Salieri) helped to finish it in the version often heard today. The Benedictus is thought to have been entirely composed by Süssmayr, though the echoes of the opening movement in the interlude mesh so organically with the very Mozartean solo quartet melody that I, for one, find that hard to believe


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