Felix Mendelssohn Symphony No 5 D major minor ‘Reformation’ S. Baudo OSI
The Symphony No. 5 in D major/D minor, Op. 107, known as the Reformation, was composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1830 in honor of the 300th anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. The Confession is a key document of Lutheranism and its Presentation to Emperor Charles V in June 1530 was a momentous event of the Protestant Reformation. This symphony was written for a full orchestra and was Mendelssohn’s second extended symphony. It was not published until 1868, 21 years after the composer’s death – hence its numbering as ‘5’. Although the symphony is not very frequently performed, it is better known today than it was during Mendelssohn’s lifetime.
The key of the symphony is stated as D major on the title page of Mendelssohn’s autograph score. However, only the slow introduction is written in D Major, whereas the main theme and the cadence setting of the first movement are in D minor. The composer himself referred to the symphony on at least one occasion as in D minor.
The symphony is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, “serpente” (possibly a serpent) and contrabassoon (fourth movement only, now usually played on the contrabassoon alone), 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani and strings.
The symphony is in four movements: