FELIX MEN­DELSSOHN Wed­ding March

Who doesn’t know this most fa­mous piece of Western Art mu­sic? Orig­i­nally writ­ten for a Shake­speare play, the Wed­ding March has be­come part of our so­cial fab­ric,

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - says Brid­get Mer­mikides.

Brid­get gets all emo­tional as the sea­son of hen nights, con­fetti, and best man speaches be­gins. “Daaa-daaa-da-dat-dat-dat-dat,” etc.

For this month’s clas­si­cal in­stal­ment, it’s my great plea­sure to present you with an ar­range­ment of a work by a new­comer to this col­umn: the Ger­man com­poser Felix Men­delssohn (1809-47), one of the finest ex­po­nents of Western Art mu­sic. As is typ­i­cal in the pan­theon of great com­posers, Men­delssohn was a mu­si­cal prodigy show­ing great ap­ti­tude for pi­ano, or­gan and com­po­si­tional tech­nique well be­fore his teens. A life­long devo­tee and cham­pion of the mu­sic of Jo­hann Se­bas­tian Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, Men­delssohn’s mu­sic had a highly-in­formed, el­e­gant and re­fined con­trol of melody, coun­ter­point and har­mony. This is ev­i­dent through­out his enor­mous and di­verse oeu­vre of sym­phonies, con­cer­tos, sonatas, songs, op­eras, or­a­to­rios and hun­dreds of other works, which not only paid homage and drew in­flu­ence from his artis­tic fore­fa­thers but also con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cantly to the de­vel­op­ment of the Ro­man­tic pe­riod of mu­sic.

Men­delssohn’s most cel­e­brated and praised works in­clude The He­brides, the Italian Sym­phony, Song With­out Words, Vi­o­lin Con­certo in E Mi­nor and Octet. How­ever, it is within his mu­sic for A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream where he left his in­deli­ble print on pop­u­lar cul­ture. In 1842, to­wards the end of his life cut short by var­i­ous health con­di­tions most prob­a­bly ex­ac­er­bated by bouts of ex­haus­tion and anx­i­ety, Men­delssohn com­posed in­ci­den­tal mu­sic for a pro­duc­tion of the Shake­speare work. Within this suite (Op.61), a short piece (no.9) was ex­tracted and used at the 1847 wed­ding of Dorothy Carew and Tom Daniel in Tiverton, Devon. Al­though this is the first known use of the now ubiq­ui­tous Wed­ding March at a wed­ding, it is the mar­riage of Queen Vic­to­ria’s daugh­ter The Princess Royal to Prince Fred­er­ick Wil­liam of Prus­sia in 1858 that ce­mented its en­dur­ing ab­sorp­tion into pop­u­lar cul­ture.

Orig­i­nally com­posed for orches­tra, it is more com­mon – as Men­delssohn per­formed it him­self – as a solo or­gan piece. This, along with the clar­ity and suc­cinct­ness of writ­ing, makes the trans­la­tion to solo gui­tar en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate. I’ve also man­aged to re­tain the key of C Ma­jor mak­ing it pos­si­ble to play along to most recorded and per­formed ver­sions. The piece, in com­par­i­son to the other ar­range­ments in this se­ries, is quite ap­proach­able, but will still need some work in the de­vel­op­ment of the fa­mous crisp triplets and big tri­umphant chords. As ever, the tab captions will guide you through the var­i­ous tech­ni­cal chal­lenges. Have fun learn­ing this piece and I hope it (if you will ex­cuse the pun) gets a great re­cep­tion.

It Is WIthIn hIs Mu­sIc For A MId­suM­Mer nIght’s dreAM Where he leFt hIs In­delI­ble prInt on pop­u­lAr cul­ture

NEXT MONTH Brid­get ar­ranges for gui­tar Mozart’s ex­quis­ite Mar­riage Of Fi­garo

Felix Men­delssohn: pre­co­ciously tal­ented com­po­si­tional ge­nius

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