Mendelssohn’s Fifth—a Symphony for the Reformation

The Augsburg Confession of 1530 defined the theological beliefs of Martin Luther, becoming one of the most important documents of the Protestant Reformation. And 300 years later, on the anniversary of that historic document, Felix Mendelssohn celebrated this Reformation milestone in what became known as “Mendelssohn’s “Fifth Symphony," a symphony inspired by Martin Luther’s famed Reformation hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

The powerful symphonic presentation, including a finale with the entire orchestra, underscores the unmistakable “Mighty” of Luther’s hymn! Mendelssohn’s Fifth Symphony wasn’t published until 1868, years after his death.

Although the symphony is not played often today, it shows the enduring legacy of Martin Luther’s iconic hymn based on Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble!”

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