Mendelssohns „Hochzeits-Marsch“

Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”

Almost everyone knows the “Wedding March” by Felix Mendelssohn – even if many people don’t know where this piece comes from when they hear it. How is it that it is one of the most frequently played works of classical music today?

Mendelssohn composed incidental music for Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1842, when he was just 33 years old. The "Wedding March" is heard towards the end, during the wedding ceremony of Theseus and Hippolyta. With its lively and triumphant melody, Mendelssohn's music captures the joyous and celebratory atmosphere of this scene - a relief after the trials and tribulations seen in the first half of the play.

The popularity of the “Wedding March” grew considerably over time and it became a “wedding classic” for a number of reasons: During his lifetime and also in the second half of the 19th century, Mendelssohn was a highly respected composer. He was known for his melodious and expressive music, and his works were well received by audiences and critics. He was successful not only in his homeland, but also particularly in England - he travelled there ten times in total, performed his new compositions and cultivated artistic connections. So it was not surprising that music by Mendelssohn was played at the wedding of Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, Crown Princess Victoria, to Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia in 1858.

The use of the 'Wedding March' at such a momentous event brought it to the attention of a wide audience and there was naturally a copycat effect. The uplifting and celebratory nature of the piece, combined with its association with love and marriage, makes it very suitable for wedding ceremonies: the opening fanfare played by the brass announces the bride's entrance and prepares the grand procession. Then follows a cheerful and solemn march with the strings and woodwinds carrying the melodic lines.

In the 20th century, the work's popularity grew even further: with the invention of music recordings, its use became easier - you no longer need a large live orchestra on site to play the music at weddings! Film and television also contributed to the work's continued popularity: the "Wedding March" is used prominently in the highly successful 1935 film adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, in "Father of the Bride" from 1950, but also in well-known 21st century films such as "The Wedding Planner" from 2001 and "Love Actually" from 2003.

The incidental music for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' by Felix Mendelssohn live in concert on June 22, 2023: further information and tickets here.

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