Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
Elijah (German: Elias), Op. 70, MWV A 25, is an oratorio by Felix Mendelssohn depicting events in the life of the Prophet Elijah as told in the books 1 Kings and 2 Kings of the Old Testament. It premiered in 1846 at the Birmingham Festival.
This piece was composed in the spirit of Mendelssohn’s Baroque predecessors Bach and Handel, whose music he loved. In 1829 Mendelssohn had organized the first performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion since the composer’s death and was instrumental in bringing this and other Bach works to widespread popularity. By contrast, Handel’s oratorios never went out of fashion in England. Mendelssohn prepared a scholarly edition of some of Handel’s oratorios for publication in London. Elijah is modelled 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.
The work is scored for eight vocal soloists (two each of bass, tenor, alto, soprano), full symphony orchestra including trombones, ophicleide, organ, and a large chorus usually singing in four, but occasionally eight parts. The title role was sung at the premiere by the Austrian bass Joseph Staudigl.
Mendelssohn had discussed an oratorio based on Elijah in the late 1830s with his friend Karl Klingemann, who had provided him with the libretto for his comic operetta Die Heimkehr aus der Fremde, which resulted in a partial text that Klingemann was unable to finish. Mendelssohn then turned to Julius Schubring [de], the librettist for his earlier oratorio St. Paul, who quickly abandoned Klingemann’s work and produced his own text that combined the story of Elijah as told in the Book of Kings with psalms. In 1845, the Birmingham Festival commissioned an oratorio from Mendelssohn, who worked with Schubring to put the text in final form and in 1845 and 1846 composed his oratorio to the German and English texts in parallel, taking care to change musical phrases to suit the rhythms and stresses of the translation by William Bartholomew, a chemist who was also an experienced amateur poet and composer.
The oratorio was first performed on 26 August 1846 at Birmingham Town Hall in its English version, conducted by the composer, and it was immediately acclaimed a classic of the genre. As The Times critic wrote: ‘Never was there a more complete triumph – never a more thorough and speedy recognition of a great work of art’. Notwithstanding the work’s triumph, Mendelssohn revised his oratorio wholesale before another group of performances in London in April 1847 – one (23 April) in the presence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The German version was first performed on the composer’s birthday, 3 February 1848, in Leipzig, a few months after Mendelssohn’s death, under the baton of the composer Niels Wilhelm Gade.
Elijah Op. 70
1. Elias: So wahr der Herr
2. 1- Abertura
2- NR Coro
3. Herr, hore unser Gebet!
4. 1- Obadjah: Zerreisset eure Herzen.
2- Obadjah: So ihr mich von ganzem Herzen suchet
5. Aber der Herr sieht es nicht
6. Elias1 gehe weg von hinnen
7. Denn er hat Engeln befohlen
8. Was hast du an mir getan
9. Wohl dem, der den Herrn furchtet
10. So wahr der Herr Zebaoth lebet
11. Baal, erhore uns!
12. Rufet lauter!
13. Rufet lauter! Er hort euch nicht!
14. Herr Gott Abrahams
15. Wirf dein Anliegen auf den Herrn
16. Der du deine Diener machst
17. Ist nich des Herrn Wort
18. Weh ihnen, dass sie von mir weichen!
19. Hilf deinem Volk
20. Dank sei dir, Gott
21. Hore, Israel, hore des Herrn Stimme!
22. Furchte dich nicht
23. Der Herr hat dich erhoben
24. Wehe ihm, er muss sterben!
25. Du Mann Gottes, lass meine Rede
26. 1- Es ist genug!
2- Siehe, er schlaft unter dem Wacholder
27. Hebe deine Augen auf zu den Bergen
28. Siehe, der Huter Israels
29. Stehe du auf, Elias
30. Sei stille dem Herrn
31. Wer bis an das Ende Beharrt
32. Herr, es wird Nacht um mich
33. Der Herr ging voruber
34. Seraphim standen uber ihm
35. Gehe wiederum hinab!
36. Ja, es sollen wohl Berge
37. Und der Prophet Elias brach hervor
38. Dann werden die Gerechten leuchten
39. Darum ward gesendet der Prophet Elias
40. Aber einer erwacht von Mitternacht
41. Wohlan, alle die ihr durstig seid
42. Alsdann wird euer Licht
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