A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 - Scherzo

By: Felix Mendelssohn
For: String orchestra
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Composer
Felix Mendelssohn
Year of composition
1843
Arranger
Difficulty
Difficult (Grades 7+)
Duration
5 minutes
Genre
Classical music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

Mendelssohn's incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61, was completed 16 years after he wrote the Overture, Op.21. The consistency of style and musical unity between them belie the disparate dates of composition. The overture was by an incredibly musically gifted youth of 17, and the incidental music was by the music director of Prussia's King Friedrich Wilhelm IV's Academy of the Arts and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

A Midsummer Night's Dream had always been a favorite of Felix and his sister, Fanny. The commission for the remaining music came from the King, for a Potsdam production of the play, one of several commissions for theatrical music Mendelssohn received while in this post. The producer of the play was Ludwig Tieck, one of the translators of the definitive German version of the play, the same version that the Mendelssohns had enjoyed and absorbed thoroughly as their own.

The incidental music consists of 14 sections, including the overture. There are vocal sections and instrumental movements. The vocal selections include the song "Ye spotted snakes" and the melodramas "Over hill, over dale," "The Spells," "What hempen homespuns," and "The Removal of the Spells." The melodramas served to enhance Shakespeare's text. The remaining sections are primarily cues. The music combines the traditional forms and structures of Classical music with the feeling and expression of the Romantic era. Throughout the sections, Mendelssohn sprinkles themes and motives pulled from the earlier overture to create coherence.

The instrumental movements, Scherzo, Intermezzo, Notturno, and the "Wedding March," are usually excerpted with the overture for orchestral concert performance. The Scherzo in its original orchestration appropriately introduces the fairy-world of Act II with rapid, running passages in the woodwinds, similar to the string passage in the opening of the overture, both set in a minor mode. The rest of the orchestra joins the woodwinds in a Classical sonata-form movement. Several small motives are repeated, up and down, then down and up the scale, to form the development section.

Although some consider Mendelssohn's work to be lightweight and uninspired, the entirety of A Midsummer Night's Dream proves otherwise in its inventiveness in reviving his older material and in its expression.

This piece was arranged specifically for the string orchestra I played in, and as such all the parts (except for the single bass line) are divided by three, the top line is usually divisi by the two players and the bottom line was for the third player in the second desk. Who knows, there may be a string orchestra out there with a similar configuration, and if so - enjoy!

  • This piece celebrated its 1,000th "view" on December 19th, 2004 - 32 months after it was submitted to the site. Thank you one and all for giving it a look! *
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O Little Town Of Bethlehem (2), Slavonic Dance, Op.72 No.2, O soave fanciulla, from "La boheme", Ode To Joy, L'Autunno ("Autumn") - 3. Allegro, Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 6. Theme and variations, L'Estate ("Summer") - 1. Allegro non molto, Piano Sonata No.14 "Moonlight" - 2. Allegretto, L'Estate ("Summer") - 2. Adagio, Presto, L'Estate ("Summer") - 3. Presto, La Marseillaise, Preludes, Book 1 No.8 - The Girl With The Flaxen Hair, Radetzky March, Op.228, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 3. Sarabande, Largo al factotum, from "The Barber of Seville", Semper Fidelis, Sextet: Chi mi frena, from "Lucia di Lammermoor", Si. Mi chiamano Mimi, from "La boheme", Symphony No.29 - 3. Menuetto, Little Jesus, Sweetly Sleep, Lohengrin - The Bridal Chorus, Sleepy Sidney, Sonata "Pathetique" Op.13 - 1. Grave - Allegro, Sonata "Pathetique" Op.13 - 2. Adagio cantabile, Lullaby, Lullay My Liking, Sonata in A, KV 331 - 1. Andante grazioso (Theme and variations), Sonata in A, KV 331 - 2. Menuetto and Trio, Song to the Moon, from "Rusalka", Song Without Words No.30 - Spring Song Op.62 No.6, Song Without Words No.45 - Scherzo Op.102 No.3, Minute Waltz, Op.64 No.1, Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix, from "Samson et Dalila", The First Noel, St. Paul's Suite - 4. Finale (The Dargason), The Gladiator March, String Serenade - 2. Waltz, The High School Cadets, The Amazon Rag, The Blue Danube Waltzes, The Cannon Ball Rag, Brandenburg Concerto No.5 - 3. Allegro, Pavane, Op.50, The Manhattan Beach March, Brandenburg Concerto No.3 - 1. Allegro, The Stars And Stripes Forever, Trio No.1, Symphony No.29 - 4. Allegro con spirito, Trio No.3, La Damnation de Faust - Rakoczy March, The Nutcracker - Overture, Trumpet Tune, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 4. Bourree I and II, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks, Who Let The Cows Out?, Who Let The Cows Out? - For Sax Quartet (AATB), Brandenburg Concerto No.5 - 1. Allegro, King Cotton, Key-Stone Rag, Joy To The World, Jingle Bells, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, In The Bleak Mid-Winter, I Got The Blues, Holberg Suite - 2. Sarabande, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Good King Wenceslas, God Save The Queen, El Capitan, Duet: Sous le dome epais, from "Lakme", Concerto for Two Violins "L'estro armonico" Op.3 No.8 - Movement 3, Concerto for Two Violins "L'estro armonico" Op.3 No.8 - Movement 1, Christians, Awake!, Chanson Triste, Op.40 No.2, Chanson de Matin, Canon in D, Brook Green Suite - 3. Dance, Bethena - A Concert Waltz, Ave Maria, Op.52 No.6, Anvil Chorus, from "Il Trovatore", Anvil Chorus, from "Il Trovatore", Angels From The Realms of Glory, A Thousand And One Nights, A Cyclone in Darktown, The Flight of the Bumble Bee, Serenade No.10 , Symphony No.29 - 1. Allegro moderato, Birthday Minuet, Of The Father's Love Begotten, Morning Has Broken, Gradual, Habanera from "Carmen", Rosamunde - Ballet Music No.2, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 2. Rondeau, Kinderszenen, Op.15 No.11 Furchtenmachen (Frightening), Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 2. Menuetto; Trio 1; Trio 2, Symphony No.25 - 2. Andante, William Tell - Overture, Water Music Suite No.2 in D, Symphony No.40 - 1. Allegro molto, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 - Nocturne, Brandenburg Concerto No.6 - 2. Adagio ma non tanto, Slavonic Dance, Op.46 No.7, Children's Corner, No.6 The Golliwog's Cake-Walk, Swan Lake - Dance of the Cygnets, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 "The Wedding March", Brandenburg Concerto No.3 - 2. Adagio - Allegro, Orchestral Suite No.3 - 4. Bourree, Symphonie Fantastique - 2. Un Bal, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 "The Wedding March", Orchestral Suite No.2 - 1. Overture, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 5. Polonaise and Double, Solomon - Act III, Sinfonia "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba", Symphony No.40 - 2. Andante, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 7. Badinerie, The Merry Wives of Windsor - Overture, Symphony No.25 - 4. Allegro, Water Music Suite No.3 in G, Carmen - Act 1: Prelude, The Barber of Seville - Overture, Symphony No.40 - 3. Menuetto, Slavonic Dance, Op.46 No.8, Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 3. Adagio and Brandenburg Concerto No.2 - 1. Allegro

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