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Ferrer, Sheila Marie C.

2008 - 78486

MuPC 161 - Oratorio

Hear Ye, Israel (from Elijah)


Felix Mendelssohn

About the composer: Felix Mendelssohn

Beethoven heard him play in 1821 and made a prophetic entry in one of his conversation books:
"Mendelssohn - 12 years old- promises much.”

Mendelssohn was born into a prosperous middle-class family that played host to many distinguished
guests. At the age of 12, he had already produced four operas, 12 string symphonies and a large
quantity of chamber and piano music. British people quickly took Felix Mendelssohn into their hearts.
Indeed, such was the 37-year-old Mendelssohn's impact in England that in 1846 he directed the first
performance of his new oratorio, Elijah, as the chief attraction of the Birmingham
Festival. Mendelssohn was also considered the greatest musical genius since Mozart.

Elijah

The oratorio Elijah depicts events in the life of the Biblical prophet Elijah, taken from the books 1
Kings and 2 Kings of the Old Testament. This piece was composed in the spirit of
Mendelssohn's Baroque predecessors Bach and Handel, whose music he loved. Elijah is modeled on
the oratorios of these two Baroque masters; however, in its lyricism and use of orchestral and choral
colour, the style clearly reflects Mendelssohn's own genius as an early Romantic composer.

Mendelssohn composed the work in German, but its first performance used an English version of the
text. Since then it has been performed in both languages.

It was very much the Messiah of its day: a hugely popular work that absolutely cemented
Mendelssohn’s position as one of the greatest composers of sacred music.

Aria: Hear Ye, Israel

By opening Part Two with a text from Isaiah, Schubring, the librettist, and Mendelssohn set up a
parallel between the figure of Elijah and the tradition of Messianic prophecy. The prophet Isaiah is of
central importance to the Christian reading of the Old Testament, foretelling the appearance of John
the Baptist (“the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness”) and Jesus himself. The rhetorical question,
“who art thou, that thou art afraid of a man who shall die?” stimulates a reference to resurrection of
Jesus.
The aria is in two parts: A mournful lament in B minor, followed by a resolute and uplifting B major
section that segues with great flair into the chorus. Horns and trumpets strengthen the sound with
dotted figures (a little “ta-da” motif in measures 71-72), a playful echo of those used to accompany
Elijah’s great miracles in Part One. Strings introduce a dotted rhythm that continues into the next
number.

In Trutina (from Carmina Burana)


Carl Orff

About the composer: Carl Orff

Carl Orff is a German composer known particularly for his operas and dramatic works and for
his innovations in music education. Orff studied at the Munich Academy of Music and with the
German composer Heinrich Kaminski and later conducted in Munich, Mannheim, and Darmstadt.
His Schulwerk, a manual describing his method of conducting, was first published in 1930. Orff edited
some 17th-century operas and in 1937 produced his secular oratorio Carmina Burana. Intended to be
staged with dance, it was based on a manuscript of medieval poems. This work led to others inspired
by Greek theatre and by medieval mystery plays, notably Catulli carmina (1943; Songs of Catullus)
and Trionfo di Afrodite (1953; The Triumph of Aphrodite), which form a trilogy with Carmina
Burana. His other works include an Easter cantata, Comoedia de Christi Resurrectione (1956); a nativity
play, Ludus de nato infante mirificus (1960); and a trilogy of “music dramas”—Antigonae (1949), Oedipus
der Tyrann (1959), and Prometheus (1966).

Carmina Burana

The name has Latin roots – 'Carmina' means 'songs', while 'Burana' is the Latinised form of Beuren,
the name of the Benedictine monastery of Benediktbeuren in Bavaria. So, Carmina Burana translates
as Songs Of Beuren, and refers to a collection of early 13th-century songs and poems that was
discovered in Beuren in 1803.

The songs (over 1000 of them) were written in a mix of Latin, German and medieval French by the
Goliards, a band of poet-musicians comprising scholars and clerical students, who celebrated with
earthy humour the joys of the tavern, nature, love and lust. Although Orff set the original texts, he
chose not to use the primitive musical notation that accompanied some of the songs.

Carmina Burana is divided into three sections – Springtime, In the Tavern and The Court Of Love –
preceded by and ending with an invocation to Fortune. Written between 1935 and 1936 for soloists,
choruses and orchestra, it was originally conceived as a choreographed stage work.

In Trutina

The poem In Trutina talks about a young girl's decision to fall in love rather than to become a nun.
She says she's trapped between love and chastity; that is, between marriage and being a nun. Then she
chose marriage where she apparently refers to it as "the sweet yoke.” In Trutina is also not a stand-
alone poem but a brief passage taken from a much longer song, Estatis florigero tempore, which is all
about the seduction of a girl by a boy.

Translation:
In the wavering balance of my feelings
Set against each other
Lascivious love and modesty
But I choose what I see
And submit my neck to the yoke;
I yield to the sweet yoke.
References:
https://www.classicfm.com/composers/mendelssohn/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Elijah-by-Mendelssohn

https://www.classicfm.com/composers/mendelssohn/music/felix-mendelssohn-elijah/

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/52154231e4b0af0a3133f7b4/t/55b8194ce4b065451b1e2813
/1438128460282/Mendelssohn+Elijah+Synthesis.pdf

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Carl-Orff

https://www.classicfm.com/composers/orff/guides/story-behind-orffs-carmina-burana/