Felix Mendelsohn was a renowned German composer and conductor of the early Romantic Period. Mendelsohn could be regarded as the next international composer after J.S. Bach to compose major and substantial repertoire for the instrument. Prior to Mendelssohn’s initial compositions, many changes had taken place within Germany on a social, cultural, liturgical and secular context. These changes also affected music within the church, and the organ had gradually begun to loss some of its status and grandeur as the King of Instruments. Perhaps this is why Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven left no significant works behind for the organ.
The obvious influence on Mendelssohn’s Three Preludes and Fugues is the style J.S. Bach and his teacher A.W. Bach, evident in how the fugal subject is woven together. Mendelsohn’s Prelude and Fugue in C minor (Op 37, No 1) is a work which adheres to the traditional classic form. The Prelude was composed in 1834, with the Fugue following three years later in 1837. The Prelude centers itself around two main thematic materials. The first is constructed around arpeggiated passages. The second is a short theme of one measure in duration which is definable by the opening octave interval. Sometimes Mendelssohn alters the octave to a m7 interval in order to allow for harmonic progression.
Mendelssohn treats the Fugue traditionally. He presents the subject first in the tonic, then the dominant and pays much attention to the first and third beat of the bar. Mendelssohn also unifies both movements by introducing declamatory chords in the final measures of both the Prelude and the Fugue.
I think the piece has taken a Romantic turn due to the thicker textures that Mozart uses in the work. Overall the piece has a slightly more lyrical feel to it, particularly in the right hand of the prelude. Having played this work on my graduate recital, I feel that when playing, it feels identical to performing a Bach piece (in terms of muscle memory and technicality). However in terms of interpretation, the work appeared to have a lot more detail in the phrasing compared to a Bach Prelude and Fugue