Symphony No. 1 (Mendelssohn)

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watercolour portrait against blank background of a young man with dark, curly hair, facing the spectator: dressed in fashionable clothes of the 1830s, dark jacket with velvet collar, black silk cravat, high collar, white waistcoat
Portrait of Mendelssohn by James Warren Childe, 1839

Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11, is a work by Felix Mendelssohn, which was completed on March 31, 1824, when the composer was only 15 years old. However, the autographed score was not published until 1831. The symphony was dedicated to the Royal Philharmonic Society, who performed the London première on May 25, 1829, with Mendelssohn conducting.[1] For this performance Mendelssohn orchestrated the scherzo from his Octet Op. 20 as an alternative third movement for the symphony. The work was premièred at a private gathering on 14 November 1824 to honor his sister Fanny Mendelssohn's 19th birthday. Its public première occurred on 1 February 1827, with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra performing under the leadership of its then-Kapellmeister Johann Philipp Christian Schulz. A typical performance lasts half an hour.


The work is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in B, two bassoons, two horns in E and/or C, two trumpets in C, timpani in C, G, and strings.


The symphony is in four movements:

  1. Allegro di molto (C minor, 4/4, sonata form. )
  2. Andante (E-flat major, 3/4, sonata form.)
  3. Menuetto: Allegro molto (C minor, 6/4, compound ternary form, with a trio firstly in A-flat major and later in C minor. Compared to the standard minuet & trio form, it is slightly different as there is an extra link to the main minuet after the binary-form trio section.)
  4. Allegro con fuoco (C minor, 4/4, sonata form, ending in C major. The primary theme of which bears a striking resemblance to the final movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony No. 40.)


An arrangement for piano duet, violin and cello exists, and has been recorded by the Duo Tal & Groethuysen.


  1. ^ Mercer-Taylor, P. J. The Cambridge Companion to Mendelssohn, CUP (2004)

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