Tone, or Symphonic, poems are single movement works that attempt to depict a scene, landscape, theme or the content of a written piece such as a novel or poem. Although the idea was not new (thinking of Vivaldi’s The Fours Seasons for example) it particularly developed in the nineteenth century and there is an argument for considering Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides” an early example.
Mendelssohn, from a well-off Berlin family, could afford to have his European travels and travelled to Scotland. A boat trip to the island of Staffa inspired his depiction of Fingal’s cave, and only hours later he had written the opening theme and sent them in a letter to his sister, with the comment “How extraordinarily the Hebrides affected me”. He originally named the piece ‘To the Lonely Island’ before deciding upon ‘The Hebrides’ - though some confusion was caused when a publisher produced an edition named ‘Fingal’s Cave’ a little later, a title which stuck.
For those of us that haven’t had the pleasure of a visit to Fingal’s Cave, the cave itself is over 60 metres deep and stormy tides cause the sounds of the rumbling waves inside it to reverberate for miles. Mendelssohn’s music beautifully captures the drama of the sea with intense and mysterious rolling melodies full of crescendos and crashes, and calmer passages conveying stiller waters.
New Forest Orchestra will be performing this beautiful piece at their upcoming concert in Milford on Sea on Saturday 30 March.
As we approach our next concert we were remembering fondly some of the appreciative, generous, and sometimes amusing comments we’ve had from audiences in the past. It always means so much to hear that the audience have had (almost?) as much fun as we have, and have perhaps discovered pieces or composers they’ve not listened to before. After all, music is for sharing.
We had a ‘fly on the wall reporter’ at a previous concert just over a year ago, who noted down some of the fabulous comments heard at that event…
‘It’s nice to hear different music’
‘Lot of work there, I wonder how long they take to rehearse it’
‘They’ve got a lot of musicians haven’t they?’
'That was fast and very intricate, lovely’
‘Pity you can’t see the man at the back playing’
‘Aren’t we lucky to have an orchestra like this coming here’
‘Some of them aren’t that young to be playing all this time!'
Thank you to all of our wonderful audience members, past and present – we’d be nothing without you. We hope to meet more of you at our next concert on the 30 March!
Rehearsals are well underway for our upcoming concert, Mainly Schubert, and excitement is building at the NFO as we prepare to perform music from this great composer. An Austrian composer from the late classical/early romantic period, Schubert was only 31 years of age at the time of his death. Despite his short lifetime he left behind a huge number of extremely highly-rated musical works — art songs, piano works, chamber music and symphonies in addition to sacred choral works, operas and incidental music for the stage, however, he was predominately known as a composer of song in his own lifetime. In a way it is strange that we are left with little in the way of remnants of Schubert’s considerable efforts in the Theatre. He composed quite a few Singspiel Operas (musical numbers separated by passages of dialogue) and sacred Oratorios which are rarely, if ever, performed. Maybe he was unlucky or poor at choosing collaborators? Contrast this with the fact that his other vocal works (i.e. Lieder and late Song Cycles such as Die Schoene Mullerin (The Fair Maid of the Mill) and Winterreise (Winter Journey)) are widely considered to be absolute masterpieces.
It is interesting that much of Schubert’s music was performed solely in intimate gatherings of friends and adherents, and in fact only one public concert took place in his lifetime. None of his orchestral works had been published or performed. After his death, various musicians (Mendelssohn, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and even Arthur Sullivan) did much to bring his music to the attention of the public and music publishers and raise it to the ranking it now has today. On Saturday 30 March we feature his Unfinished Symphony, plus some reminders of his musical interest in the stage and their possible links.