Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4, "Italian"

Virtual Event


Music Director Jaime Martín and the musicians of LACO join forces for Mendelssohn‘s joyful Italian Symphony at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall on June 26, 2021.


The appearance of Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall was made possible by a leadership gift from Terri + Jerry Kohl.


Felix Mendelssohn

Symphony No. 4, "Italian"

27 minutes


Margaret Batjer


Tereza Stanislav

assistant concertmaster

Josefina Vergara

principal second violin

Cheryl Norman-Brick

acting associate second violin

Hana Kim

violin II

Andrew Shulman

Principal Cello

Armen Ksajikian

Associate Principal Cello

David Grossman

Principal Bass

Sandy Hughes

Acting Principal Flute

Claire Brazeau

Principal Oboe, Allan Vogel Chair, Endowed by the Henry Family

Joshua Ranz

Principal Clarinet

Michael Thornton

Principal Horn

David Washburn

Principal Trumpet

Ryan Sweeney

personnel manager


Mendelssohn’s ebullient joy at seeing Italy is obvious in the opening theme of the composer’s Fourth Symphony, known as the “Italian.” The work premiered in 1833 under Mendelssohn’s baton, although he refused to publish the work at that time because he felt it needed revisions. While he did make some changes to the work, it was the original version of the symphony that was ultimately published four years after Mendelssohn’s death at thirty-eight. Stylistically influenced by Mozart and Beethoven, Mendelssohn often favored convention over innovation. Although the “Italian” follows the four-movement structure of the traditional Classical symphony, there are some uniquely Romantic touches in the work. The key scheme for the entire work, for example, begins in A major and ends in A minor—an unusual and unique touch.

The first movement is relentlessly lively and joyful. In a letter to his sister and fellow composer, Fanny, he even described this work as the “jolliest” piece he had ever composed. He wrote the slow movement in Naples, taking inspiration from a religious procession he witnessed. The walking bassline suggests the steps of those in the parade, while the minor mode evokes the solemnity of the occasion. The third movement draws upon the minuet and trio traditional in Classical symphonies but takes on a more Romantic flavor when Mendelssohn brings out the brass in the contrasting second part. (Use of the brass section, and indeed the section itself, had grown quite a bit in the Romantic period.) The second part of the movement calls to mind the composer’s work in more dramatic genres, like the incidental music he composed for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (written a few years before the “Italian”). The final movement captures the flavor of Italy with the incorporation of two traditional Italian dances, the Saltarello and the Neapolitan Tarantella. The minor mode and the highly rhythmic nature of the themes suggest agitation, but Mendelssohn might well have described the music as animated and fiery, a tribute to the spirited and impassioned culture and people he encountered on his Italian journey.

–Christine Lee Gengaro, Ph.D.

About LACO SummerFest 2021

LACO SummerFest began as a response to the lack of in-person concerts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting July 2020, LACO released five special musician-curated programs bi-weekly, utilizing COVID-19 safety guidelines for film and television production in Los Angeles County. These 30-minute broadcasts allowed LACO to connect and engage with supporters while also building an online audience.

We are continuing SummerFest in 2021, featuring performances from our first in-person concerts in 15 months since the pandemic at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Huntington Library.


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