• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Write a critical commentary on Mendelssohn's Quartet in Eb Major, Op. 12

Extracts from this document...


Mendelssohn Quartet No 1 in Eb major, op.12 Born in Hamburg, February 3rd 1809, Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (known to the western world as Felix Mendelssohn) was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Recognised early on in life as being a musical prodigy, he took up piano lessons with his mother at the age of 6, giving his first public recital just 3 years later as an accompanist for a horn duo. Whilst demonstrating highly developed maturity towards creating music as a performer, Mendelssohn became a prolific composer from an early age, usually having his works performed by a private orchestra to an elite group of his wealthy parent's associates. He wrote 12 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14, a full orchestra symphony at aged 15 and his string octet which was written aged just 16, the latter of which began to demonstrate his true genius as a musician. Mendelssohn's style of composition was very different to that of his contemporaries such as Liszt, Berlioz and Schumann. Often labelled as the "Classical Romantic", as a composer, Mendelssohn's style was more comparable to the works of Beethoven than his contemporaries. Musicologist Edwin Evans states "Mendelssohn was born into the romantic era, but his aristocratic fastidiousness made him averse to the romantic excesses of his time, even when writing for the orchestra." ...read more.


In this case, he has set up a leaning towards the subdominant. In the following bar, he also makes use of another technique often used by Beethoven, three short notes in preparation for one long note. The purpose of this short phrase is to inform the listener that it has modulated back to Eb (lack of Db's). This second motif is also used as the melody for the contrapuntal texture set up in bar 6, where the 4 note melody is played amongst itself in the other voices. The opening 17 bars of this piece not only make up the introduction, but also map out most of the melodic devices that Mendelssohn will use throughout the piece. In addition to subdominant leanings, suspensions and appoggiaturas provide a sense of unease and increasing tension, as well as one of the pathways through which composers are able to explore different keys. The final main feature of the introduction is this idea of melody dominated homophony, where the lead voice assumes a melody, whilst the other voices accompany it with chordal support. "Allegro non tardante" (Bar 18) marks the official start to this piece (with regards to sonata form). This is therefore the exposition, presenting itself in a quite predictable key of the tonic, Eb major. ...read more.


It is here we soon find a coda, where new material is added and the key of F minor is brought back. After 12 bars of chromatic modulation, the haunting melody that was heard earlier makes another appearance, however this time it does not move to G minor, or A minor, instead moves straight back to Eb. The main them is sequenced here, leading up to the ending of the piece. The final few bars feel relatively restrained, and the pianissimo marking leaves the listener with a peaceful ending to the piece. It is easy to see the huge impact Beethoven and Bach had on Mendelssohn's life, with compositional devices from both of them used extensively by Mendelssohn throughout his compositions. His style of composition was much more restrained than others at his time, and some would argue subsequently much more refined, due to his refusal to "step out of the box". Whereas composers like Schumann were exploring the extent to which they could take their music, Mendelssohn was happy to compose in a more mannered style, sticking so the classical guidelines, but managing to rise above the somewhat orthodox approach that seemed to govern the composition of classical music. Mendelssohn had supreme grasp of lyricism, he excelled in understatement and was able to provide colouristic orchestrations that provided his works with an undeniable freshness and brilliance. ?? ?? ?? ?? Oliver Palmer Landmark: Mendelssohn String Quartet ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Music section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Music essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    AS Composition Commentary. I chose to write my piece for a woodwind quartet, ...

    4 star(s)

    Articulations such as accents are used within the theme to emphasise the strong beats of each bar. The bassoon line is predominantly written using staccatos to highlight the bassoon's dexterous nature.

  2. An Evaluation of the Marketing Strategy of Nestl Yorkie Chocolate Bars.

    Although a Yorkie bar is a much more substantial bar, in many people's minds the taste of Cadbury Dairy Milk and Galaxy bars is a lot more pleasant. I think the price of a single, standard Yorkie bar is too high.

  1. What is musical genius?

    As the fundamental aspects of music are built around physics and maths, this is not surprising (see the aforementioned Freeman Dyson). Of course, it would be close-minded to claim that a genius composer has to straddle many strings of academic study, as most composers can be seen as musical geniuses in their own right.

  2. Comment on the differences between the exposition and the recapitulation in Mozart's 41st Symphony

    The fact they are playing dotted rhythms also adds drive to the section and builds up the excitement for the end of the piece.

  1. A Comparative Analytical Commentary of Debussys Syrinx and Prlude l'Aprs-midi d'un Faune

    Each individual sequence is chromatic in nature, which creates a contrast with the whole tone runs already stated. This alternation between whole tone and chromatics would sound quite alien to an audience who is accustomed to the strictly diatonic major or minor sounds of the Classical or earlier eras.

  2. Critical commentary on the exposition of Mozart's 41st Symphony.

    The end of the first subject is much more brash compared to the beginning of the second subject. This is lightly scored from the beginning and sees no woodwind until b.62. Here the bassoons are doubling the violin I's part but an octave higher.

  1. Compare and contrast approaches to Tonality in New York Counterpoint, String Quartet number 8 ...

    Later in the piece, tonal blurring occurs which means that the notes from different chords (chords IV and V) sound at the same which results in a slightly dissonant blurred harmony. There is a good example of this at bar 22 on the penultimate semiquaver beat: The live clarinet and

  2. Performing Arts Written Commentary

    While rehearsing we combined all our sections and rehearsed all of them together this worked particularly well. During performing we encountered many links between Dance, Drama and Music. There were links between dance and the music as the music became faster the dance also complimented the music and became faster.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work