Hall: Concert Hall
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A tour of Scotland in 1829 made a great impression on young Felix Mendelssohn – he was particularly fascinated by the Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. The Concert Overture (which at first was called “To the Lonely Island”, and later also “Fingal’s Cave”) echoes in musical form the composer’s enchantment with this island chain. The piece is extraordinarily beautiful and contains much in the way of sea imagery. Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E Minor was one of his last works, and at the same time among the most popular in the entire violin repertoire. It was inspired by his close friendship with the brilliant violinist and at that time concertmaster of the famous Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Ferdinand David. As early as June 1838, he wrote to David: “I should like to write a violin concerto for you next winter. One in E Minor runs through my head, the beginning of which gives me no peace”. But the violinist had to wait another seven years for the concerto to be completed. Mendelssohn was busy with other projects, and it is also likely that he lacked confidence in handling the intricate textures of the violin. Moreover, he wished to write a piece that would be worthy of the new age and shed classical conventions in many aspects. Mendelssohn completed his work in summer of 1844, but for the next couple of months corresponded with David, discussing with the latter the details of the solo part. The premiere was planned for 13 March 1845, and was to have been conducted by the composer himself; however, due to an illness, he was replaced by the outstanding Danish composer and conductor Niels Gade, at that time associated with the Gewandhaus.
Johannes Brahms’ two exquisite Serenades were written in 1858–1859, and thus in the same period as Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor. They were his first works for orchestra, and a kind of a prelude to the composer’s long maturing idea for a symphony (the Serenades were well received, the Concerto a little less favourably so, which put Brahms off composing symphonic music for some time). The Serenades refer freely to the classical divertimento tradition and are an example, quite rare in Romanticism, of such a form intended for full orchestra.