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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream. Op. 21. (Mendelssohn)


Overture to "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Op. 21.

Felix Mendelssohn
(1809-47)



The overture to "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," written in 1826, is especially interesting as being the starting-point in Mendelssohn’s musical career. It was the first work to express his individuality and maturity of creative power, for when he wrote the music to the play, seventeen years later, it filled its place in the perfected scheme as freshly and fittingly as if it had been composed simultaneously with the rest. it contains all the motives of the play -- the songs and dances of the fairies, the chases of the lovers, the dance of the rustic clowns, the grace of Titania, and the airiness of Puck. It leads us into the fairy realm, with all its poetic beauty, refinement, grace, and lightness; and yet this almost ethereal mixture of humor and fancy is constructed in the strongest and most solid manner.

The overture opens with four sustained chords in the wind instruments, introducing us to fairy land, in which the first theme is heard. After several bars of fairy music the second theme, the hunting-horn melody, enters, and is followed by a love melody, simple but full of graceful charm. This leads up to a mock pageant, a dance by the clowns, with a humorous imitation of the donkey’s bray. The horns of Theseus are heard again, and the fairy revels resumed in all their freshness and dreamy beauty. The subjects already introduced are elaborated and the exquisite fairy overture closes with a charming Coda.





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