Midsummer Dreams: Mendelssohn Scottish & Beethoven Eight

Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra
Albert Hall, Canberra
7pm, Tue 1 August 2023
Conductor Rachael Beesley

Felix Mendelssohn’s Overture to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was written when he was just 16 – the quick, playful strings at the start suggest the scampering of fairies’ feet, and later one can hear the braying of Bottom after he has been turned into a donkey. 

At the age of 20, Mendelssohn set off on a Grand Tour of Europe. Unusually, however, Mendelssohn elected to begin in Scotland – and while there he was greatly moved by the dramatic landscape and the bloody history of Mary Queen of Scots. He began writing his Scottish Symphony while on this tour, although he didn’t complete it until a decade later.

Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony features a lightness of touch, but it is perhaps his most radical, completely abandoning the traditional structure of a symphony.

Image credit – Robert Catto.