1821: Mendelssohn: String Symphony No. 3 in E Minor, age 12

Mr. Peabody Says:

I know what I was doing between the age of 12 and 14, and it was not composing symphonies. But Mendelssohn composed 13. This 3rd symphony is in E minor and is around nine minutes long. His most prominent teacher was Carl Friedrich Zelter, who told Goethe about his amazing 12 year old student.

Lev Markiz/Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam

Nicholas Ward/Northern Chamber Orchestra

  1. Allegro di molto
  2. Andante – G major
  3. Allegro vivace

Felix Mendelssohn wrote thirteen string symphonies between 1821 and 1823, when he was between 12 and 14 years old. They were tributes to symphonies by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714), Joseph Haydn (1732), Johann Christian Bach (1735), and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756).

It is logical to assume that the 1st was written first, so at about age 12, with the last written at age 14. However, without biographical info it is impossible to know for sure if these 13 symphonies are in the same order in which he composed them, so for now I’ll leave a window between his 12th and 14th years.

The idea that anyone could have written any of these at age 12 is absolutely frightening and shows that Mendelssohn was more advanced at that age than Mozart.

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