Mendelssohn as Muse: A Storytelling Event

The Englert Theater, June 2016:  Iowa Summer Writing Festival faculty Robin HemleyDaniel Khalastchi, and Sabrina Orah Mark, as well as Festival director Amy Margolis, read short, first-person narratives inspired by Felix Mendelssohn’s magnificent String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 13, with performance of that piece by the Solera Quartet interspersed between the stories.

Mendelssohn wrote this quartet several months after the death of Ludwig van Beethoven, and the influence of Beethoven’s late string quartets is evident in this work. As a unifying motif, Mendelssohn included a quotation from his song “Ist es wahr?” (‘Is it true?’, Op. 9, No. 1)— “Is it true that you wait for me in the arbor by the vineyard wall?”—composed a few months earlier. Mendelssohn includes the title of the song in the score of the quartet, recalling the title Beethoven wrote on the last movement of his Op. 135 string quartet “Muss es sein?” (Must it be?). The original inspiration, “Ist es wahr?” was performed by singer and Iowa City native Meagan Brus during the performance.

This event was in collaboration with the MusicIC Festival, which celebrates the creative interface between music and literature. It was presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature.