Die Erste Walpurgisnacht: Ballade Von Goethe Für Chor Und Orchester, Op. 60

By Todd, R. Larry | Notes, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Die Erste Walpurgisnacht: Ballade Von Goethe Für Chor Und Orchester, Op. 60


Todd, R. Larry, Notes


FACSIMILE EDITIONS Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Die erste Walpurgisnacht: Ballade von Goethe für Chor und Orchester, op. 60. A Full-Color Facsimile of the Autograph Piano-Vocal Score Held in the Museum of Educational Heritage at Tamagawa University. Edited with commentary by Hiromi Hoshino. Tokyo: Yushodo Press Co., c2005. [Message (Yoshiaki Obara) in Eng., Jap., 2 p.; foreword in Eng., Jap., Ger., 3 p.; facsimile (color), 49 p.; commentary (Die erste Walpurgisnacht, history of the Tamagawa autograph, content of the Tamagawa autograph), p. 1-59; appendices (text, original sources), in Eng., Jap., p. 60-73; bibliography, p. 74-76. Cloth (in slipcase). ISBN 4-8419-0396-8. ¥47,500.]

If the rediscovery of a major Felix Mendelssohn autograph is cause enough for celebration, then doubly so the publication in full color of the document in question, a source previously unknown to Mendelssohn research: the autograph piano-vocal score of the cantata Die erste Walpurgisnacht, op. 60 (1843). This is the composition Hector Berlioz praised for its "whirling momentum and sweep," its interweaving of voices and instruments "with an apparent confusion which is the perfection of art" (The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz, corr. ed., trans. and ed. David Cairns [New York: Norton, 1975], 294; reprint [New York: A. A. Knopf, 2002], 298), and the work Fanny Hensel was rehearsing in 1847 when she suffered her fatal stroke. Published with a detailed commentary by the Japanese musicologist Hiromi Hoshino, this handsome offering augments a relatively small number of facsimiles of Mendelssohn's manuscripts issued over the last sixty years, beginning with the first version of the Hebrides overture (Die Hebriden: First Version of the Concert-Overture, ed. Max F. Schneider [Basel: Amerbach, 1947]), now housed at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York; the chorus Die Frauen und die Sänger (ed. Max F. Schneider and Karl- Heinz Köhler [Basel: Edition Bartholdy, 1959]); the ever-popular Octet in the Library of Congress (Octet for Strings, op. 20: A Facsimile of the Holograph in the Whittall Foundation Collection, ed. Jon Newsom [Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1976]) and Violin Concerto, once in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek and uncovered in 1988 in the Jagiellonian Library, Cracow (ed. Luigi Alberto Bianchi and Franco Sciannameo, Music in Facsimile, 4 [New York: Garland, 1991]); the cantata Jesu, meine Freude (ed. Oswald Jonas [Chicago: Newberry Library, 1966]); and most recently, the "Italian" Symphony (Sinfonie ADur op. 90, "Italienische": Alle eigenhändigen Niederschriften im Faksimile: Partitur 1833, "Oxforder Fragmente," Teil-Partitur 1834, ed. John Michael Cooper and Hans-Günter Klein [Wiesbaden: L. Reichert Verlag, 1997]), with reproductions of the manuscripts of the 1833 version of the complete symphony and Mendelssohn's 1834 reworking of the last three movements in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-Preußischer Kulturbesitz, as well as the portions held by the Bodleian Library, Oxford, of the composer's revisions made in the prebound 1833 score; and the original a cappella version of the chorus Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen über dir, incorporated with orchestral accompaniment by Mendelssohn into the oratorio Elijah (Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen: Faksimileausgabe nach dem Autograph in der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-Preußischer Kulturbesitz, ed. Thomas Schmidt-Beste [Stuttgart: Carus, 1997]). In the case of Die erste Walpurgisnacht, the new facsimile arrives at a propitious time, when scholarly interest in this composition is peaking, having been rejuvenated in 1997 by Christoph Hellmundt's study "Mendelssohns Arbeit an seiner Kantate Die erste Walpurgisnacht: Zu einer bisher wenig beachteten Quelle" (in Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Kongreß- Bericht Berlin 1994, ed. Christian Martin Schmidt, 76-112 [Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1997]), and freshly stimulated by Cooper's engaging new monograph Mendelssohn, Goethe, and the Walpurgis Night: The Heathen Muse in European Culture, 1700-1850 (Eastman Studies in Music [Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2007]) and the pre-announcement of his forthcoming edition of the cantata's first version for A-R Editions. …

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