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Length: 15 mins

About this Piece

During Felix Mendelssohn’s short life (1809–1847), his versatile music career included giving organ recitals, which gave him the opportunity to tour England playing the famous instruments there. In 1845, his success prompted an English publisher to offer him an enticing deal to write six organ voluntaries.

Upon completion, Mendelssohn revealed that he had renamed the genre he was working with, now calling the six pieces “sonatas.” Each with four movements, they nonetheless do not adhere to sonata form of his era, tending more to resemble suites of Bach’s era.

The collection became his Opus 65, and the fourth of these in B-flat major opens with a bright Allegro con brio built upon running 16th-note passages followed by dotted eighth notes that eventually combine with the opening. Two slower inner movements (Andante religioso and Allegretto) each provide simple interludes, while the set concludes with a grandiose fugal finale (Allegro maestoso e vivace).