Overture to Mendelssohn's Oratorio 'St. Paul' (transcribed for organ)

By: Felix Mendelssohn, arr. W. T. Best, ed. Christopher Maxim
For: Solo instrument (Organ [manuals with pedals])
page one of Overture to Mendelssohn's Oratorio 'St. Paul' (transcribed for organ)

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Overture to Mendelssohn's Oratorio 'St. Paul' (transcribed for organ)


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Felix Mendelssohn, arr. W. T. Best, ed. Christopher Maxim
Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
7 minutes
Classical music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

W. T. Best's masterly transcription for organ of the overture to 'St Paul' is still available in its C19th engraving (published by Novello). But trying to play from the facsimile makes an already phenomenally difficult piece even harder. A particular issue is the unclarity as to which hand should play what notes. The root cause of this issue is the frequent migration of the left hand into the right hand stave. While modern players will be familiar with this challenge from certain urtext editions, it presents particular difficulty in this piece since there are many places where some of the left hand notes are on the lower manual stave while simultaneously others are located on the upper. Moreover, the notes in question on the upper stave are sometimes written in such a way that appear to belong to the right hand, although to play them with that hand would be impossible. In this edition I have sought to present the music as clearly as possible for the player. This has meant making decisions as to which notes should be assigned to the left hand and which to the right. I have attempted to change clefs as infrequently as possible, but as often as necessary.

Although this edition is largely faithful to Best (including his dynamics and phrase markings), players should be aware that I have dispensed with some of his registration suggestions in the opening Andante. More significantly, I have made some (small) amendments in the fugue so that the manual parts fit under the hands better. These changes are few and not highlighted in the text. A more significant revision, however, is found in bars 133 and 134 where I have simplified the most acrobatic pedal writing. This, in turn, necessitated some adjustments to the left hand in bar 134. I have also chosen to double a 3rd lower the second and third notes in the uppermost voice in bar in bar 132 to match the texture bars 128 and 130.

Plays who wish to remain faithful to Best's transcription are encouraged to play from it. Those who would like a (slightly) easier life are invited to try this version.

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