A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Overture and excerpts
– Intermission –
The Tempest: Prelude & Suite No. 1
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture
Born: February 3, 1809, Hamburg
Died: October 3, 1847, Leipzig
Premiered: February 20, 1827, Stettin (then in Prussia; now Szczecin, Poland)
Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, composed in 1826 when he was just 17 years old, stands as a true musical masterpiece that adeptly captures the essence of Shakespeare’s timeless comedy. This composition reveals Mendelssohn’s extraordinary precocity and a vivid, imaginative approach to music composition.
The overture functions as an enchanting prelude to Shakespeare’s play, setting the tone with a vibrant portrayal of a mystical forest, replete with ethereal fairy music and playful, mischievous antics. Mendelssohn’s orchestration in this piece is nothing short of remarkable; he seamlessly blends delicate strings, enchanting woodwinds, and spirited brass to craft a sonic tapestry that mirrors the whimsical nature of Shakespeare’s narrative.
This work is characterized by its rich orchestration, memorable melodies, and dynamic contrasts. Mendelssohn’s adroit use of rhythm, harmony, and texture allows him to convey the whimsical and enchanting atmosphere of Shakespeare’s play with exceptional finesse. The composition showcases diverse orchestral timbres, ranging from the ethereal woodwinds to the grandeur of the brass section, further enhancing its capacity to transport listeners into the magical realm of the play.
Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture remains a timeless and captivating piece of classical music, serving as both a testament to his genius and a profound interpretation of Shakespeare’s enduring comedy. Mendelssohn continues to delight audiences and remind us of the remarkable synergy between literature and music in the world of the arts.
The Tempest: Prelude & Suite No.1
Born: December 8, 1865, Hämeenlinna
Died: September 20, 1957, Järvenpää
Composed: 1925-26, rev. 1927
Premiered: October 19, 1926, at the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki, Finland
Jean Sibelius, the renowned Finnish composer, crafted The Tempest Suite as a musical interpretation of William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.” Composed in 1925, this suite is a prime example of Sibelius’s ability to infuse orchestral music with rich emotional depth and vivid storytelling.
The Tempest Suite is an orchestral work that captures the essence of Shakespeare’s play. Sibelius’s composition effectively mirrors the stormy, mysterious, and magical elements of the story. The first movement, “The Oak Tree” opens with a sense of foreboding, setting the stage for the drama that unfolds. Subsequent movements take the listener on a sonic journey through the storm at sea, the airy and otherworldly sounds of the island, and the eventual reconciliation of the characters.
Sibelius’s orchestration is notable for its lush and evocative textures, from the shimmering strings to the powerful brass. His use of thematic development and leitmotifs adds depth to the narrative, giving each character and scene a distinct musical identity.
Meet the musicians here!
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Jordan Lexus of Mishawaka is a proud 2023-24 Season Artistic Sponsor.
Program subject to change.