Mendelssohn: Octet in E Flat Major, Op. 20 transcribed for full orchestra by Yoon Jae Lee, Full Score

transcribed for full orchestra by Yoon Jae Lee

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Year of composition
Yoon Jae Lee
Difficult (Grades 7+)
30 minutes
Classical music
Instrumental parts
Not available

Instrumentation: 2. 2. 2. 2 - 2. 2. 0. 0 - tp - str

Mendelssohn’s Octet transcribed for full orchestra by Yoon Jae Lee. This transcription was done in 2009 to honor the composer’s 200th anniversary. This transcription was performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra during their 2011-12 Season. The 3rd movement Scherzo is NOT included in this transcription because it incorporates the composer’s own transcription made in 1829 as a substitute movement for the third movement of his First Symphony. Recordings are available on YouTube.

Reviews: "This version, by Yoon Jae Lee, incorporated winds and brass — intelligently." David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

Performance material available for hire. Please email for all rental inquiries.

I first became acquainted with Mendelssohn’s Octet when I was ten years old. It immediately made a lasting impression on me and my enthusiasm for the Octet has never waned since that time. Being an amateur string player, I would read the Octet with my friends whenever I could get a chance but I knew that participating in a professional performance of this great masterpiece would not be possible. As my interest in orchestration and arranging grew, the thought of transcribing the Octet for full orchestra came to my mind. I knew that the Octet is often played as a work for string orchestra with multiple players on each part along with an added contrabass part. However, I began to take the full orchestra idea more seriously when I learned that Mendelssohn had already orchestrated the scherzo as a substitute movement for the Minuetto of his First Symphony for its London premiere in 1829. Mendelssohn also orchestrated his String Symphony No. 8 in D Major so these facts convinced me that orchestrating the other movements was possible. The final straw came when I discovered that Mendelssohn wrote in his autograph manuscript the note mentioned above, “The Octet must be played by all instruments in symphonic orchestral style. Pianos and fortes must be strictly observed and more strongly emphasized than is usual in pieces of this character.” As the 200th anniversary of Mendelssohn’s birth approached, I began to study his early orchestral works in hopes of using them as a guide to orchestrating the remaining movements of the Octet. As this is my first attempt at a project of this nature and scope, I cannot say that I have fully succeeded in creating an orchestration that is completely satisfactory. However, knowing that Mendelssohn (like Bruckner and Mahler) continually revised his works after their premieres, I feel that I can improve upon the “1st version” of my transcription just as Mendelssohn himself did for his compositions by becoming more intimately familiar with Mendelssohn’s compositional and orchestration styles.

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