You are on page 1of 14
Pablo DI MARS 4 >/4/ou) FELIX MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY (1809-1847) Festgesang fir vierstimmigen gemischten Chor und Klavier for four-part mixed chorus and piano herausgegeben von / edited by Christoph Hellmundt fi BREITKOPF & HARTEL WIESBADEN - LEIPZIG - PARIS Chor-Bibliothek 5279 Printed in Germany Preface While pursuing leads concerning sources for the ongoing Leiprg Edition ofthe Works of Flic Mendebsoln Baroldy 4 the Sichssche Akademie der Wissenschaften 20 Leipaig, the editor chanced upon a practically unknown work by Mendelssohn in St.Petersburg. This edition makes the score svallable to abroad public for the frst time ever and can be cen as a small contribution to the commemoration of the composer on the 180th aniversary of his death “The Festgeseng_was commissioned by Anton. Chrstaell (1801-1882) of Schwar, litle town in Tyrol. Mendelssohn Aid not know his len personally, bu had only received sev- eral leters from bir since April 1837. In one ofthe leters Chustanll introdsced himself as an “art-loving murcal diletante" in another, as a “merchant and estate owner”. He {alle various functions in Schwa, being, a various times, market manager (i. mayor), municipal councillor, com rmander ofthe National Guard and hospital manager He also conganized musical events om an amateur bass. On 7 March 1898 he asked Mendelsohn to st to musica txt which he planned to have sung in Schwaz only a few weeks later, on 19 Apri forthe birthday of Emperor Ferdinand I. The pro: ceeds were t9 bene the town poor. Chrstanell wanted 4 choral work which could be accompanied on a new acquis Sion, a grand piano. He supplied Mendelsohn with he Inllowing tx” “Mige das Segseicen der, Ibe michenden Kreuzes Dich und Deine hohe Nachkommen- fchaft gegen sichtbare und unsichibare Feinde fir und far beglten, Amen.” (May the symbol of victory of the life ving Cross protect you and your grest progeny against enemies visible and invisible forever and always. Amen) Referring tothe text, Chistanell told the composer that these words "had been spoeen om a journey to high-ranking per~ Sonage on the oecasion ofthe presentation of litle piece of the Holy Cross of Christ”. He unfortunately volunteered no further information as to the identity of the “high-ranking personage’, the destination and time ofthe journey, who had uttered the words and ~ what would interest us the most ~ ‘who had written them dowa. Perhaps Christanell himself fad, in some oficial function, been both che speaker and a= thot. The “high-ranking personage” must have been secular (and not religious), since the text speak of progeny. Tn the leer he sene along with the completed score, Men delsohn confessed that he had found it rather difficule “to set precisely these words to music; at all events, I had to make a slight change, since I simply could not ft in the “great progeny’. However I did want t0 oblige you and, a6 you ‘mentioned, make my lle contribution to the feast in Tyrol ‘mountains. Thus please acept the work for wht iti.” Also from a leter by Mendelsohn writen to his mother, we know that the composer found the text rather strange. He ths replaced “you and your great progeny” with the more general expression “you and your kin” (die Deinen), and he found a musical solution w the task which he deemed se- cessful Inthe aforementioned leter he wrote: "x and how ever peculiar the words wers, it tured out to my own amazement to be 3 truly fine chorus.” Mendelsohn carried out his commission a fll sped in late March He even interrupted his work on the Serenade ad Al- legro gijoso Op. 43 for piano and orchestra and completed the choral piece on 30 March leis quite possible that he even wrote the pioce on that one day The work was probably given its festive first performance in Schwaz on 19 April 1838, as planned. It was no doubt performed a number of times in Schwaz for the town's poor in the following years as well, since Christanell already announced this intent in his Teeter of thanks dated 11 Apsil 1838 ‘There are some surprising connections berween the music of the Festgesang and the symphony-cantata Lobgesang Op. 52. ‘Though Mendelssohn only completed the Lobgesang two years later, he had apparently been working on it since 1838 ‘The theme of the first choral section in the Fesgesang is al- most identical tothe striking beginning of the introductory theme ("Sinfonie") in the Lobgesang, which is later taken up by the chorus on the words: “Alles, was Odem hat, lobe den, Herm” (Everything that breathes, praise the Lord), Concerning the performance of the work, Mendelssohn gave CChristanell' few suggestions which we also recommend to the users of the present edition: "The indications according to Maclel’s metronome are precise. It will be to the work's advantage to have as many voices as possible inthe chorus and to bring out the erescendo elegantly atthe beginning.” ‘The autograph is located today in the manuscript division cf the Russian National Library (formerly the Saltykov ‘Shishedrin Public Library) in St. Petersburg, Tt consists of twelve neatly written pages: tide page and 11 pages of mu- sic. The many changes made in the music suggest that this is the first deat. The choral pats ate notated in the cles nor- mally used today: In this edition, we have merely added + cautionary “8” below the clef at'the tenor part. The work was otherwise engraved following modern editorial pratce. In the piano part, the low notes of the right hand, which Mendelssohn notated in the lower staff, were transferred to the upper staff. At muliple sounds and chords on dotted cighth-note values, we have filled in the augmentation dots which Mendelssohn often left incomplete ‘There are no known performance parts from Schwa2, in par- ticular the choral parts which Christanell wrote out. Since there is neither a further fair copy nor a sketch in Men- delssohn’s estat, the autograph isthe only surviving source “The fact thatthe Fstgesang was widely unknown to this day should no doubt be seen chiefly in connection with what Mendelssohn wrote to his client “I am confident that you will consider the piece as your exclusive property and vill sake it public in no other way than through perfarmance ~ nor through printing. The fulfillment of this condition means 4 great deal to me, and I am convinced that I can rely on you.” In hie letter of acknowledgement, Christanell assured ‘Mendelssohn that he was able to rely on him, and the Ty- rolean apparently took the request so seriously ~ even going s0 far as to making a respective clause in his will that hardly anyone outside of Schwaz knew anything about the work. If ‘we are printing this work today, 180 years later, theh because wwe of the 20th century no longer feel bound to the compos- e's will. We see in the Festgezang a cultural asset which has since freed itself from the contingencies ofits origins. Weare printing ie with the firm conviction that this charming work, ‘which enriches and helps round out our knowledge of Men- delssohn's oeuvre, deserves to be rescued from oblivion. Leipzig, Fall 1996 (Christoph Hellmunde eee an regen C43] 4 Joly Festgesang fiir vierstimmigen gemischten Chor und Klavier Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, 1838 4 Allegro maestoso alla marcia 4 = 126 ‘erausgeeehen von Christoph Helimundt Klavier Chor-Bibliothek $279 © 1997 by Breitkopf & Hartel, Wiesbaden [Nacharuck, auch auszugsweise, sowie jede Art von Kopie nicht gosta