Two Great Composers Featured by Rangbrook Ensemble

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September 3rd, 2014

Omaha, NE — As summer winds down some music makers are gearing up for a new concert season.

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rangbrookThe Omaha-based Rangbrook ensemble opens its third season with a performance featuring the final chamber works of two great composers. Here’s the ensemble’s founding cellist, Sophia Potter.

“The concert will open with Felix Mendelssohn’s ‘String Quartet No. 6 in F minor’, a quartet that he wrote immediately following the death of his sister Fanny,” Potter said. “The second work on the program will be Franz Schubert’s ‘String Quartet in C major’ – the famous one – for two violins, viola, and two cellos.”

The origin of Mendelssohn’s final quartet derives from the relationship he had with his sister, Fanny.

“Felix was incredibly close with his sister Fanny,” she said. “She was his older sister by 3 or 4 years. She was a composer as well, she was a good musician.”

Fanny was rehearsing one of her brother’s works when she suffered a stroke and died. Felix was devastated.

“…upon hearing the news, Felix collapsed, and he was actually too emotionally distraught to attend the funeral,” said Potter.

Potter suggests that writing the quartet offered Mendelssohn an opportunity to mourn.

“This is of course just my opinion, I think the quartet is Mendelssohn trying to go through the grieving process, musically,” she said.

Felix Mendelssohn would meet his own early demise a few short months later, and the quartet stands as his final completed chamber work. The other piece on the program, Schubert’s “String Quintet in C” also attained the dubious honor of being the composer’s last completed chamber work. Instead of mourning a loved one, it was Schubert’s own death that is foreshadowed. However, the quintet’s legacy is greater than just acting as Schubert’s last musical thoughts.

“There’s a violinist who has the second theme from the first movement engraved on his tombstone, Arthur Rubinstein, the pianist, asked that the slow movement be played at his funeral. This is a piece that has a lot of meaning for a lot of people,” Potter said.

The Rangbrook Ensemble plays music of Mendelssohn and Schubert this Sunday, September 7 at the First Presbyterian Church of Omaha. More information is available at www.rangbrookensemble.org.

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