1845: Mendelssohn: Oedipus at Colonus, Op. 93, age 36

Mr. Peabody Says:

King Friedrich Wilhelm IV wanted to once again make the Greek tragedies and other outstanding examples of classical drama accessible to the public. He was called the “romanticist on the throne”. His relationship to Mendelssohn and his support of him is a very interesting story. The man had good taste.

In 1841, a year after his accession to the throne, he appointed Mendelssohn Royal Court Music Director and gave commissions to write music for four Greek tragedies, of which Oedipus at Colonus from 1845 was the third. The score contains nine pieces in which the choruses from Sophocles’ tragedy were set to music.

Stefan Soltesz

I can’t find any kind of symphonic suite for this music, so there is a lot of German narration that I don’t care about. But the choral parts are quite wonderful, so I’m linking to only one part that is only music.

Mendelssohn’s setting of Sophokles’ Greek tragedy Oedipus at Colonus is less well known than its companion piece, Antigone, which was frequently performed in the 19th century in Germany and abroad. For a time it was even his most popular work.

  • Oedipus at Colonus, Op. 93, MWV M14: No. 3. Zur rossprangenden Flur, o Freund (Chorus 1 and 2)

Is it Mendelssohn, or Wagner?

To my ear this music is not so different from some of Wagner’s music in his operas for male choruses, and yet Wagner ridiculed Mendelssohn music.

Leave a Reply