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Oratorio Concert
Event type: Large-scale vocal-instrumental concert
Hall: Concert Hall
Subscription: C1 - Symphonic concerts, Z1 - Golden subscription
Price: 25-60 zł

In 1829 the twenty‑ year‑ old Felix Mendelssohn conducted the Berlin Singakademie in the then quite forgotten St Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach. The success of this epoch‑making concert led to a major revival of interest also in other Baroque masters and genres of the past. Mendelssohn himself later conducted performances of Bach’s cantatas, but also brought the works of Händel back to the German audience (he got acquainted with them during his visits to England, which always eagerly welcomed the composer). Händel’s music also met with an enthusiastic reception. Hence the idea of reactivating the genre of the oratorio in a way that would be respectful toward tradition, but also take advantage of new means of expression. In collaboration with the librettist, his pastor friend Julius Schubring, Mendelssohn composed Paulus. Direct impulse came from a Frankfurter Cäcilien‑Verein commission of 1831. The work was only completed five years later, and premiered to outstanding success first in Düsseldorf, then soon in the English‑language version in Liverpool. In Paulus the composer consciously draws on Bach’s style in the form of chorales and strict counterpoint. In its homiletic character, the oratorio is closer to the cantatas of the Leipzig cantor than to Händel’s dramatic forms (which influenced Mendelssohn’s later Elias). Despite the considerable popularity of Paulus in the composer’s lifetime, in the later period his other oratorio has been much more frequently performed. It is therefore worthwhile to use this chance of getting acquainted with this very interesting and musically beautiful work.

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