I. Andante con moto – Allegro un poco agitato II. Vivace non troppo III. Adagio IV. Allegro vivacissimo
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Symphony no. 3 in A minor, “Scottish”, op. 56
Mendelssohn (1809-1847) travelled to England in 1829, a month after his premiere of Bach's Mathew Passion. Besides his concert duties, he found time to inspect some of the cultural heritage and he also met Sir Walter Scott. His compositional imagination was not idle either: %u201CAs I will be free, I want to write one or two things here, or in Scotland. It is not for nothing that there are bagpipes in the world!” While exploring Scotland, he visited the Stuarts' Holyrood castle, and as he wrote in a letter, it made a deep impression on him: “Today at dusk we went to the castle where Mary Queen of Scots lived and loved; they showed me a small room where a spiral staircase led up to its door, from which they dragged out Rizzio from a dark corner and murdered him… The adjacent chapel has now collapsed and is overrun by grass and bushes. At the altar which is now ruined, Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland. Everything was in ruins and decay, and above was an open sky. I believe I have found the life of my Scottish symphony.” It seems that this is when Mendelssohn first began to plan the work. This lyrical description is certainly reflected in the seriousness of the symphony's introductory Andante. Interestingly, it was only completed thirteen years later in 1842. Mendelssohn dedicated it to the monarch of England, Queen Victoria.