In autumn 1830 Mendelssohn Bartholdy visited Venice whilst on a great European tour and was intoxicated by his impressions. He said of the local gondoliers: “The gondoliers are now crying out to one another again, and the lights are reflected deep in the water; one is playing the guitar and singing. It is a merry night”. Perhaps it was with this in mind that Mendelssohn wrote four Venetian Gondola Songs between 1830 and 1841 (published in Henle Urtext in the collected volumes HN 327 and 861). We are now publishing the four popular, easy-to-play and melodious pieces together in one volume, with a new preface by Ullrich Scheideler.
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“This is Italy. Everything that I have considered as life’s greatest joy, ever since I have been capable of thought, has now begun, and I am relishing it.” Thus begins a letter of 11 October 1830 from Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–47) to his parents and siblings, sent from Venice (unless otherwise stated, quotations from letters are from Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, … more
About the composer
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
A German composer, conductor, pianist, and organist who already numbered among the most important composers in Europe during his lifetime. While still young he found a unique tonal language. Reflected in his oeuvre, which spans all genres, are the contradictory tendencies of the age – Classicism and Romanticism. His endeavors over the course his life to perform the works of Johann Sebastian Bach led to a “rediscovery” of that composer which continues unabated. His intensive engagement with Bach and his counterpoint influenced his own compositional technique.
|1809||Born into a wealthy banker’s family in Hamburg on February 3. Escape to Berlin with his parents in 1811. First musical instruction from his mother.|
|1819||He becomes a pupil of Carl Friedrich Zelter.|
|1820||Joins the Sing-Akademie in Berlin.|
|1821–23||Twelve sinfonias for strings.|
|1825||String Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20.|
|1826||Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Op. 21|
|1827||Begins studies at the University of Berlin.|
|1829||Revival of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Berlin on March 11 and 21. Travels to England and Scotland.|
|1829–30||“Reformation” Symphony in D minor, [Op. 107], with inclusion of the choral “Ein feste Burg“ (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.)|
|1830–32||Extended travels, including to Italy and France. Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 25; Overture in B minor, Op. 26, “The Hebrides, or Fingal’s Cave” (1829–30).|
|1833||Music director in Düsseldorf. “Italian” Symphony in A major, Op. 90 (1830–33).|
|1835||Director of the Gewandhaus concerts in Leipzig.|
|1836||Premiere in Düsseldorf of his oratorio “St. Paul: Oratorio on Words of the Holy Bible,” Op. 36.|
|1838-44||Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64.|
|1840||Composition of “Hymn of Praise, a Symphony-Cantata on Words of the Holy Bible,” Op. 52.|
|1841||Berlin, in the service of the Prussian king. “Variations sérieuses” in D minor, Op. 54, for piano.|
|1842||Completion of Symphony No. 3 (“Scottish”) in A minor, Op. 56, with a songlike opening.|
|1843||Incidental music to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Op. 61. Director of the newly founded Leipzig Conservatory.|
|1846||Premiere of his oratorio “Elijah,” Op. 70, in Birmingham.|
|1847||String Quartet in F minor, [Op. 80]. Death in Leipzig on November 4.|
About the authors
It is useful to have these four pieces gathered together particularly in such clear, well laid out edition. ... Staple bound in a thin card cover, this edition has a useful preface by Ullrich Scheideler setting out in German, English and French the background to the composition of these pieces. ... Fortepianists wishing to have a convenient collection of these four attractive pieces, whether for use within a varied recital, as an encore, or simply for the pleasure of playing them at home, will find this new publication very useful.
These four short lyrical and expressive pieces are ideal for including in festival and competition performances where time limits are of the essence. They also provide excellent teaching repertoire for the practise of pedalling, cantabile and expression.
Henle heeft uit de in de banden 'Lieder ohne Worte' (HN 327) en 'Klavierwerke II' (HN 861) opgenomen vier Venetiaanse Gondelliederen in een aparte uitgave bijeengebracht. ... Speciale aandacht verdient het voorwoord: echt een niets meer te wensen overlatende "alles wat je altijd al wilde weten over Mendelssohn's gondelliederen".