Writing sample by Aaron Grad.
© 2012 Aaron Grad. All rights reserved.

****

Ouverture zum Märchen von der schönen Melusine, Op. 32 (Fair Melusina)

FELIX MENDELSSOHN
Born February 3, 1809 in Hamburg
Died November 4, 1847 in Leipzig

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and strings

Duration: Approximately 10 minutes

Composed: 1833

First Performance: November 14, 1833

Origins: Goethe retold the Melusina folktale in his 1821 novel, Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years. Franz Grillparzer created a stage version in 1823, and Conradin Kreutzer developed that play into an opera in 1833. Mendelssohn heard the opera (and hated it) not long before composing his concert overture for the Philharmonic Society in London.

Listen for: A rolling “water” theme in F major, representing Melusina, and then a turbulent “galloping” theme in F minor, suggesting Reymund’s intrusion.

Who is Melusina?

In medieval folklore, Melusina was a beautiful girl cursed to take the form of a mermaid one day each week. She married the knight Reymund, and forbade him from ever seeing her on Saturdays. He betrayed her one fateful day, spying on her in the bath, and she disappeared forever from sight of humans, although the sound of her wailing remained.

            Guillebert de Metz, c. 1410               Julius Hübner, Die schöne Melusine, 1844