Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Weekly Roundup 22: String is in the Air

String music, that is. 

I heard my first ever performance by a string octet, comprised of the Dali and Pandan string quartets, brought together by the amazing Off the Hook Arts. The venue (a local car dealership) was a little unusual, but the acoustics were good--and there was a Porsche in the room.

The piece was written by composer Felix Mendelssohn in 1825, when he was 16 (which is like middle age for a child prodigy I suppose). It is written for four violins, two violas, and two cellos. What stuck with me--aside from the spectacular music--was the anecdote about how the acclaimed third, or scherzo, movement was inspired by four lines from Goethe's Faust
Trails of cloud and mist
        Brighten from above;
Breeze in the trees, and wind in the reeds,
        – And all is scattered.

From those four short lines of verse, the teenaged Mendelssohn imagined and composed a piece of music which is still being performed and enjoyed almost 200 years later. 

It just makes me so happy to think about how words inspire music as much as music inspires words. I hope Goethe got to hear the Octet before his death in 1832. 

See you next week!

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