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Part: 6 Picture Perfect > Term Paper #1 - Pg. 344

Sample Term Papers 344 Carl Friedrich Zelter (1758­1832), a German composer and conductor, was one of Mendelssohn's first teachers. He began Mendelssohn's instruction in music theory and composition in 1819 ( En- cyclopedia Britannica vol. X: 871). Of the thirteen early symphonies Mendelssohn wrote for string orchestra, the first ten were composed as exercises for Zelter. Zelter introduced Mendelssohn to Goethe in November of 1821. Zelter's friendship with Goethe had begun in 1796 when Zelter published his first collection of lieder. This collection included settings of poems by Goethe, and Goethe wrote Zelter to tell him he was pleased with the settings. After the suicide of Zelter's stepson, Goethe's letter of condolence showed the depth of his feelings in the use of the pronoun "du." This established their close relations for the rest of their lives, and inspired Zelter's continued work on the lied ( Grove Dictionary 663­664). Given Zelter's close relationship with Mendelssohn, it was inevitable that the young composer would also be inspired by Goethe. Mendelssohn's Die erste Walpurgisnacht, one of his greatest cantatas, was based on Goethe's Faust, and on Goethe's personal interpretation of the scene (Grove Dictionary 146). Mendelssohn's friendship with the poet lasted for a great many years, up until Goethe's death in 1832. Mendelssohn's cantatas also show Bach's influence. While some critics comment that the settings Mendelssohn wrote of the psalms for liturgical use show a decline in musical quality from his highly dramatic work, they do recall the form and structure of Bach's cantatas ( Grove Dictionary 146). In 1784, When Zelter became interested in serious composing, he went to Carl Fasch, a leading musician, who accepted him as a pupil. Zelter joined Fasch's Singakademie in 1791. After Fasch's death in 1800, Zelter took over the Singakademie. Zelter also continued Fasch's practice of having the Singakademie perform works by J.S. Bach ( Grove Dictionary 663­664). Bach was Mendelssohn's idol. As a boy, Mendelssohn copied out Bach's music, and his early com- positions were greatly influenced by it ( Grove Dictionary 143). Zelter was quite zealous in his training of strict contrapuntal style. Also, many of Mendelssohn's works follow the contrapuntal style, in