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The Ageof Romanticism

Mendelssohn's Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream

The "Lake Poets" William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey, and their close friends Charles Lamb and Thomas De Quincey, were some of the most influential figures of the Romantic movement in England in the first part of the nineteenth century. The letters, poem, essay, and commonplace book shown in this part of the exhibition represent their friendships and their passionate immersion in the literary culture of the period. Also on display is an autograph copy of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartoldy's famous overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream.


Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy composed his famous overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream when he was just seventeen years old and living in Berlin with his parents. He first wrote the overture as a piano duet, which he played with his sister Fanny in November 1826. The overture publically premiered the following year, after being arranged for orchestral performance. This copy of the piano version in his own hand is thought to have been made during his first trip to England in 1829. Mendelssohn was one of the most popular composers in England in the nineteenth century, visiting the country ten times in his short lifetime.

Mendelssohn. Sommernachtstraum. Ouverture; arr.. Manuscript, 10 July 1829

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