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Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’: An oratorio for the generations

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Elijah and the personal life of Mendelssohn.
    1. Elijah - an oratorio in two parts.
    2. The first performance for the Birmingham Festival.
    3. Elijah: marked by musical elements that display Mendelssohn's technical genius.
  3. Mendelssohn's use of fugue and counterpoint.
  4. The spread of Mendelssohn's desire in England.
  5. Mendelssohn's impact, and specifically that of Elijah.
  6. Conclusion.

On Wednesday, August 26, 1846, Felix Mendelssohn's revered oratorio, Elijah, was premiered at the Birmingham Music Festival. The work met instant lauds, hailed by the London Times, ?Never was there a more complete triumph- never a more thorough and speedy recognition of a great art (Anderson). A hurried completion of the piece had left only the first part printed. The remaining parts were sung from manuscript copies, complete with crossed out corrections in different colored ink and only the vocal outline and basso continuo for solo parts (Jack Werner 11), and yet the performance was an incredible success. The concert was well publicized with good press leading up to it. The performance was at 11:30. At least eight numbers, four choruses and four arias were encored. The performance met rave reviews from musicians, conductor, and critics alike (Jack Werner 19).

[...] A History of Western Music. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Jacob, Heinrich Eduard. Felix Mendelssohn and His Time. Englewoods Cliffs: Prentice-Hall Inc Mendelssohn, Felix Elijah in Full Score. Ed. Julius Rietz. New York: Dover Publications The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Ed. Stanley Sadie. NY: Macmillan The New Oxford History of Music. New York: Oxford University Press Werner, Eric. Mendelssohn: A New Image of the Composer and His Age. London: Collier-Macmillan Limited Werner, Jack. Mendelssohn's A Historical and Analytical [...]


[...] Critic Chorley said this of the piece, ?Elijah is not only the sacred work of our time, we dare fearlessly to assert, but it is a work our children and for our children's children' (Anderson).? Elijah is an oratorio that serves both Christianity and music with unparalleled certainty. Works Cited Anderson, Robert. ?Another Elijah.? Choir & Organ November/December 1997: 16. MAS Ultra-School Edition. EBSCOHost. Lenoir Rhyne College Libraries, Hickory Sept Blunt, Wilfrid. On Wings of Song: A Biography of Felix Mendelssohn. [...]


[...] Scholars estimate that Mendelssohn was preoccupied with the idea for this oratorio for perhaps ten years before it was created (Gordon). The earliest dated reference to Elijah is mentioned in a letter from Mendelssohn to Carl Klingerman, an intimate friend of Mendelssohn and a writer of libretto. In the letter dated August just a few months after the first performance of his oratorio St. Paul, Mendelssohn specifically asked Klingerman to write the libretto for a new oratorio (Jack Werner 3). [...]

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