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This performance took place at Royce Hall, in Los Angeles, California on March 30, 2003.

“The movement goes “like the wind,” taking only 5.5′ to perform. It’s energy is propelled forward through powerful staccato motives and fast legato passages where notes move in a twirling motion. It is quite a thrill to conduct this movement; similar (in a way) to leading the finale of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony which also happens to be in A Major.”

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847) wrote five symphonies for full orchestra and also 13 String Symphonies. Symphony No. 5 in D minor, “Reformation,” Symphony No. 3 in A minor, “Scottish,” and the work featured here, the Symphony No. 4 in A major, “Italian,” are the ones most well known. It should be noted that his third symphony was finished in 1830, while the fourth was completed in 1833.

From 1829 to 1831, Mendelssohn toured Europe, a trip which inspired him to write “The Hebrides”, the “Scottish Symphony,” and also the “Italian Symphony.” In an letter to his sister, Fanny, Mendelssohn wrote about his progress in writing the symphony: …It will be the jolliest piece I have ever done, especially the last movement. The fourth and last movement is called “Saltarello: Presto.” The Italian term was used in reference to Italian dances such as the Tarantella and of course, the Saltarello.

The Italian Symphony is the best known of his five symphonies and I believe that this is due to Mendelssohn’s ability to compose a work which offers the listener four contrasting movements, yet they flawlessly connect with one-another in a very harmonious way. This is my personal opinion, however, despite its success, Mendelssohn himself struggled with the work for many years, revising it and not publishing it during his lifetime.