Music in the Age of Christopher Wren

See Photo Location
Past Event

In an age with low expectations for mortal longevity, Christopher Wren’s 90-year lifespan is, in itself, remarkable. During his lifetime, he would have witnessed gradual changes in musical styles, from early Baroque to mature Baroque, to the first post-Baroque developments leading to what we now regard as the Classic period in Western music.

The musical works of this brief program are from composers whose lifespans overlapped, either completely or in part, with the lifespan of Christopher Wren. Felix Mendelssohn is the only exception here, as his birth post-dated Wren’s passing; however, there is still a thread of connection between Christopher Wren and Felix Mendelssohn. We will remember Mendelssohn as a strong advocate for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Bach had fallen out of favor in the early 19th century, and Mendelssohn was a key figure for renewing interest in Bach’s music. As early as June 10, 1832, as documented by the Mendelssohn biographer William Smith Rochstro, and continuing into the 1840s, Mendelssohn made several trips from his German homeland to perform music in London. Mendelssohn was first introduced into music circles in London by his English contemporary and good friend, Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876). Wesley and Mendelssohn shared a mutual passion for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Mendelssohn discovered the organ of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the 1830s. At that time, the organ in St. Paul’s Cathedral had gone through a century of development, with several organ-builders having attended to its maintenance and gradual expansion. The St. Paul’s Cathedral organ in the year 1840 was unusually advanced in design, owing mostly to the presence of three manuals, plus a pedalboard with a compass of 25 notes. Prior to the 19th-century, and unlike organs of the same time in Germany, one rarely saw a pedalboard on an English organ. The pedalboard on the organ at St. Paul’s Cathedral was similar to the more advanced organ pedalboards at that time in Germany, and this allowed Mendelssohn to perform the pedal parts found in the organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach. The St. Paul’s Cathedral organ, as well as the symmetry and style in Christopher Wren’s architecture, surely inspired Mendelssohn to compose his own organ Preludes and Fugues and Organ Sonatas.


For more information:


St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury
501 Westminster Ave.
Fulton, MO 65251

Additional Information

Travelers With Disabilities Information
Wheelchair Accessible
Smoking Policy
No Smoking
Cost Of Admission
Charges Admission
Guest Reservations Needed?
Reservations Not Required