Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Town, Stephen. "Mendelssohn's 'Lobgesang': A Fusion of Forms and Textures." The Choral Journal 33, no. 4 (November 1992): 19-26.

Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2 "Lobgesang" is a ceremonial work composed for the 400th anniversary celebration of Gutenberg's invention of moveable type. It is a mixture of vocal and instrumental music, a fusion of different forms and textures of cantata, oratorio, opera and symphony. In the past, it suffered unjust criticism as a result of incorrect comparison to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. A general resemblance to Beethoven's Ninth, as well as the nineteenth-century anxiety toward the work, points to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as Mendelssohn's paradigm. But the real models for Mendelssohn are the cantatas and passions of Bach, and the anthems and oratorios of Handel. The "Lobgesang" consists of two parts: the instrumental part, labeled as "Sinfonia," succeeded by a cantata. The cantata contains a diversity of styles. A closer examination of the aria "Stricke des Todes hatten uns umfangen" from No. 6, the so-called "Watchman scene," shows how Mendelssohn uses sonata principle to serve as an essential part of the drama and in total compliance to the text. In the chorus "Die Nacht ist vergangen" from the same number, Mendelssohn uses a mixture of homophonic and fugal writing; the climax is reached through repetition, elaboration, and variation of thematic materials, producing a coherent form.

Works: Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 2, Op. 52, Lobgesang.

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Tong Cheng Blackburn

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