Written at the ripe age of 15, Mendelssohn's Ouverture, op. 24 demonstrates his musical maturity from a very young age. Set in sonata form, the work begins with a slow, highly melodic introduction that leads into a quick allegro filled with counterpoint and polyphonic imitation. Asbill and Geraldi have done a masterful job of adapting the original work for the modern wind ensemble.
Genre: Wind Ensemble | # of Players: Standard
Level: 5 | Duration: 9:00
On on a part:
E-flat Clarinet 1
E-flat Clarinet 2
B-flat Clarinet 1
B-flat Clarinet 2
B-flat Clarinet 3
B-flat Clarinet 4
F Horn 1
F Horn 2
F Horn 3
F Horn 4
B-flat Trumpet 1
B-flat Trumpet 2
Percussion 1 (snare drum, triangle)
Percussion 2 (bass drum, crash cymbals)
Felix Mendelssohn was a prolific composer from a very young age, and was also one of the finest keyboardists of his time. Born into one of Germany’s most cultured 19th century families, Mendelssohn’s parents home schooled their children on a very strict routine. Their studies included music, history, Greek, Latin, science, literature, and drawing. Felix formed a particularly strong bond with his older sister, Fanny, who became a successful composer in her own right.
The Mendelssohn home was a gathering point for conservative German intellectuals and philosophers organized by Moses Mendelssohn, Felix’s grandfather,. His father, Abraham, was a wealthy banker intent on providing his family with the best possible opportunities for education and culture. Karl Friedrich Zelter was the young composer’s primary music teacher. Mendelssohn’s comprehensive musical education emphasized correctness, propriety, and formal clarity. His models included not only the Romantics of the early 19th century, but also 18th century figures, such as Bach and Mozart. Mendelssohn made his debut as a pianist at age nine in 1818 and in 1819 the Berlin Singakadamie presented the first public performance of one of his compositions.
The Mendelssohn family enjoyed summer holidays in various locations around Europe, where Felix formed professional connections with eminent historical figures, including Goethe and Spohr. During the summer of 1824, Mendelssohn vacationed with his father at the northern German community of Bad Doberan. This resort was known for its spas, many of which employed small Harmonie ensembles to perform daily concert. While in Bad Doberan, Mendelssohn composed his Notturno for eleven instruments – pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons, plus additional parts for flute, trumpet, and English basshorn – and the work received its premiere on July 24, 1824.
In 1838, the composer rescored the work for large German wind band and re-titled it Overture, Op. 24. At this time, Mendelssohn sought to have the work published in three versions: the original for 11 instruments, the expanded version, and a setting for piano four-hands. Simrock accepted the works, but did not publish them until 1852, five years after the composer’s death.
The work is in sonata form with a slow, highly melodic introduction. Its balanced phrase structures and restrained expressive sensibility are characteristic of Mendelssohn’s style. The Allegro presents a succession of short motives, with the second theme serving as the only melody of any length. The development explores the young composer’s sense of classical counterpoint through the use of polyphonic imitation. Originally composed when Mendelssohn was only 15 years old, the Overture, Op. 24, illustrates his maturing compositional voice.
In the years since Mendelssohn's work was composed in the 1830s, numerous scores, adaptations, and editions have been published to make the piece accessible for performance. This new edition was created in order to make the original version easily performable by a modern wind ensemble. The editors' intention was to remain as faithful as possible to Mendelssohn's original concept, while adapting the instrumentation for modern performers. In this process, discrepancies, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies between individual parts and previously existing editions were reconciled. The source material used included an 1876 reprint by Breitkopf & Härtel of the original 1852 score, the critical edition score published by Bärenreiter, and the 4-hand piano score published by Simrock.
To achieve these goals, the editors needed to make decisions regarding instrumentation and notation. Mendelssohn's original ensemble included a pair of F soprano clarinets and a pair of Basset horns. The editors have transposed and edited these parts for two E-flat clarinets and two additional B-flat clarinets, with little to no effect upon register or timbre. The obsolete English bass horn that Mendelssohn requires in his score has been included as a part for Euphonium. For convenience, the editors transcribed the trombone parts, originally notated in alto or tenor clef, all to bass clef. The snare drum notation was clarified and simplified to reflect the more regimental drumming technique of the period, while remaining easily readable to modern players. Lastly, details of dynamics and articulations were coordinated between parts and adjusted to match the reprinted score from 1852.