Overture for Band (Mendelssohn)

From Wind Repertory Project
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (adapt. Felix Greissle)

General Info

Year:1839 / 1948
Duration: c. 9:30
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Schirmer
Cost: Score and Parts - Out of print.

For availability information, see Discussion area, above.


Full Score
C Piccolo
D-flat Piccolo
Flute I-II
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
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Flugehorn I-II
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion (3 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • 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 concerts. 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.

- Program Note from Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music

The Op. 24 by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy was composed in July of 1824 for the court orchestra of Bad Doberan near Rostock, where the young musician was accompanying his father. Writing for the Boston Symphony, George Marke remarks, "Some artists develop their craft slowly, others seem to being at the top. There is little difference between Mendelssohn's early and his mature works."

The original score was lost but recopied by Mendelssohn in July of 1826. These two scores were entitled Notturno and were written for the instrumentation of one flute, two clarinets, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, one trumpet, and one English bass horn (a conical bore upright serpent in the shape of a bassoon).

In his correspondence to the publisher Simrock, Mendelssohn mentions his desire to have this eleven-instrument version published, but apparently could not locate the score as he never mentions it again to Simrock after March 4, 1839. Mendelssohn did send Simrock an Ouverture fur Harmoniemusik (Overture for Wind Band) scored for twenty-three winds and percussion along with a four-hand piano score on November 30, 1838. The 1838 composition is a re-scoring of the Notturno for German Band of that era and was not published until 1852 following the death of Mendelssohn.

It has been suggested by musicologists that the 1838 re-scoring was an effort to imitate the orchestral color of Weber's Preciousa Overture. In Weber's overture, a gypsy melody is introduced by a small wind band with percussion accompaniment. At this time, however, Mendelssohn was also negotiating for the publication of the overture by Mori in London. It is quite possible that the re-scoring was an attempt to acquire greater performance opportunities for his work by making it available in settings for British and German bands along with a proposed edition for orchestra.

Several editions for modern instrumentation have appeared, all using the 1838 score as their source.

- Program Note by John P. Boyd


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

  • Arkansas: V
  • Iowa: V
  • Louisiana: IV
  • Maryland: V
  • Minnesota: I
  • North Carolina: VI
  • Oklahoma: V-A
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Tennessee: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Golden Gate Park Band (San Francisco, Calif.) (Mark Nemoyten, conductor) - 10 July 2022
  • University of Central Arkansas (Conway) Wind Ensemble (Noah Mellick, conductor) – 11 February 2021
  • Parkland College (Champaign, Ill.) Wind Ensemble (Larry Stoner, conductor) - 10 December 2015
  • Maplewood (N.J.) Community Concert Band (Steve Kimmons, conductor) - 11 April 2015
  • Shoreline (Wash.) Concert Band (Ken Noreen, conductor) 13 March 2012
  • San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Wind Orchestra (William V. Johnson, conductor) - 20 March 2010

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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

All Wind Works


  • Garofalo, Robert J. “Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Overture for Winds, Op. 24.” In Performance Study Guides of Essential Works for Band, edited by Kenneth L. Neidig. Galesville, Md.: Meredith Music Publications, 2009. pp. 54–57. [Originally published in BD Guide magazine.]
  • Girsberger, Russ. Percussion Assignments for Band & Wind Ensemble: Volume 2 L-Z. Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications, 2004, page 203.
  • Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "Military Overture in C." Accessed 11 April 2015
  • Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, F.; Greissle, F. (1948). Overture for Band [score]. G. Schirmer: New York.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 668-675.