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Mendelssohn, Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream.pdf

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Matthew Woolhouse

Felix Mendelssohn • b. 1809, Hamburg – d. 1847, Berlin, aged 38 • Prominent, cosmopolitan, intellectual family (grandfather, philosopher; father, banker) • Well educated - spoke English, French, and Italian; read Greek and Latin. Mentored by Goethe, 1821 • Like Mozart, Felix child prodigy, pianist and composer • Equally talented sister, Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-47) • Aged 10 studied traditional composition (counterpoint) ◦ important conservative musical influence • Between 12 -14 wrote 12 string symphonies, 1st full- orchestra symphony @15, Octet @ 16, and Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream @ 17 Bach Revival • J. S. Bach’s music largely forgotten • 1829 conducted first performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion since 1750 (4 years earlier grandmother had given him copy of score) • Led to revival of Bach's music in Germany and, eventually, throughout Europe • Mendelssohn widespread acclaim at the age of 20 • Mendelssohn traveled widely, made first visit to England in 1829 – met Queen Victoria, Prince Albert • Led to Scottish and Italian symphonies, and Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave Overture) Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream • Originally concert piece (1826), later wrote incidental music for play including famous Wedding March (1842) • Programme music ◦ Instrumental work associated with story, event, or idea • Invokes atmosphere and characters of Shakespeare’s play ◦ Melodies associated with characters
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