Title

Die schöne Melusine: Mendelssohn's Forgotten Overture

Lead Author Major

Music History

Lead Author Status

Senior

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Sarah Clemmens Waltz

Faculty Mentor Email

swaltz@pacific.edu

Faculty Mentor Department

Music History

Abstract/Artist Statement

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy is well known for highly successful concert overtures such as The Hebrides and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but his fourth concert overture, Märchen von der schöne Melusine op. 32 (The Fair Melusina), has been forgotten. This project investigates the possible reasons the piece was forgotten by examining the score for both quality of composition and of form, contemporary thought in letters pre- and post-premiere, reviews of early performances, secondary literature, and modern concert programming. Die schöne Melusine was the last of Mendelssohn’s fairy pieces, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and his water music, such as The Hebrides, making it related to Mendelssohn’s best known works, yet rather than elevating the piece, it put the piece in a position to be compared. Features of the composition, such as the possible, but unlikely, borrowing of music from Conradin Kreutzer’s opera Melusina, which was the basis of the overture, the lack of a specific program, and the similarities of the water motives to the better known Hebrides, were also examined. The evidence shows that Die Schöne Melusine fell to the sidelines of the orchestral performance canon not because of reasons of composition, but because of its lackluster premiere and because the piece was eclipsed by Mendelssohn’s more popular concert overtures. The combination of the overture’s lesser known position with a past trend in musicological research to disregard overtures led to the overture being relatively untouched by research. Die schöne Melusine was a piece that never gained recognition due to circumstances surrounding, but opened the path to ask why this piece, and by extension, other pieces are not performed. The project shows that a good piece of music can fail to take hold simply because it was overshadowed by another, far more popular piece.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

27-4-2018 12:50 PM

End Date

27-4-2018 1:09 PM

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Apr 27th, 12:50 PM Apr 27th, 1:09 PM

Die schöne Melusine: Mendelssohn's Forgotten Overture

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy is well known for highly successful concert overtures such as The Hebrides and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but his fourth concert overture, Märchen von der schöne Melusine op. 32 (The Fair Melusina), has been forgotten. This project investigates the possible reasons the piece was forgotten by examining the score for both quality of composition and of form, contemporary thought in letters pre- and post-premiere, reviews of early performances, secondary literature, and modern concert programming. Die schöne Melusine was the last of Mendelssohn’s fairy pieces, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and his water music, such as The Hebrides, making it related to Mendelssohn’s best known works, yet rather than elevating the piece, it put the piece in a position to be compared. Features of the composition, such as the possible, but unlikely, borrowing of music from Conradin Kreutzer’s opera Melusina, which was the basis of the overture, the lack of a specific program, and the similarities of the water motives to the better known Hebrides, were also examined. The evidence shows that Die Schöne Melusine fell to the sidelines of the orchestral performance canon not because of reasons of composition, but because of its lackluster premiere and because the piece was eclipsed by Mendelssohn’s more popular concert overtures. The combination of the overture’s lesser known position with a past trend in musicological research to disregard overtures led to the overture being relatively untouched by research. Die schöne Melusine was a piece that never gained recognition due to circumstances surrounding, but opened the path to ask why this piece, and by extension, other pieces are not performed. The project shows that a good piece of music can fail to take hold simply because it was overshadowed by another, far more popular piece.