Overture for Band, Opus 24

From Wind Repertory Project
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (trans. Herbert W. Fred)

This work may also be known as Military Overture in C and Overture für Harmoniemusik. It bears the designation QMB Journal 416.

General Info

Year: 1824 / 1981
Duration: c. 8:30
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - £50.00   |   Score Only (print) - £13.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III (III optional)
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Triangle


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Mendelssohn family enjoyed summer holidays in various locations around Europe, where Felix formed professional connections with eminent historical figures, including Goethe and Spohr. During the summer of 1824, Mendelssohn vacationed with his father at the northern German community of Bad Doberan. This resort was known for its spas, many of which employed small harmonie ensembles to perform daily concert. While in Bad Doberan, Mendelssohn composed his Notturno for eleven instruments – pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons, plus additional parts for flute, trumpet, and English basshorn – and the work received its premiere on July 24, 1824.

In 1838, the composer rescored the work for large German wind band and re-titled it Overture, Op. 24. At this time, Mendelssohn sought to have the work published in three versions: the original for 11 instruments, the expanded version, and a setting for piano four-hands. Simrock accepted the works, but did not publish them until 1852, five years after the composer’s death.

The work is in sonata form with a slow, highly melodic introduction. Its balanced phrase structures and restrained expressive sensibility are characteristic of Mendelssohn’s style. The Allegro presents a succession of short motives, with the second theme serving as the only melody of any length. The development explores the young composer’s sense of classical counterpoint through the use of polyphonic imitation. Originally composed when Mendelssohn was only 15 years old, the Overture, Op. 24, illustrates his maturing compositional voice.

EDITORIAL COMMENTS In the years since Mendelssohn's work was composed in the 1830s, numerous scores, adaptations, and editions have been published to make the piece accessible for performance. This new edition was created in order to make the original version easily performable by a modern wind ensemble. The editors' intention was to remain as faithful as possible to Mendelssohn's original concept, while adapting the instrumentation for modern performers. In this process, discrepancies, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies between individual parts and previously existing editions were reconciled. The source material used included an 1876 reprint by Breitkopf & Härtel of the original 1852 score, the critical edition score published by Bärenreiter, and the four-hand piano score published by Simrock.

To achieve these goals, the editors needed to make decisions regarding instrumentation and notation. Mendelssohn's original ensemble included a pair of F soprano clarinets and a pair of basset horns. The editors have transposed and edited these parts for two E-flat clarinets and two additional B-flat clarinets, with little to no effect upon register or timbre. The obsolete English bass horn that Mendelssohn requires in his score has been included as a part for euphonium. For convenience, the editors transcribed the trombone parts, originally notated in alto or tenor clef, all to bass clef. The snare drum notation was clarified and simplified to reflect the more regimental drumming technique of the period, while remaining easily readable to modern players. Lastly, details of dynamics and articulations were coordinated between parts and adjusted to match the reprinted score from 1852.

- Program Note from Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Georgia: VI
  • New York: Concert Band VI
  • North Carolina: VI
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Virginia: VI


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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • Scherzo (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Ambrose) (1823/2021)

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