Felix Mendelssohn

Marcia Funebre

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Marcia Funebre, op. 103, by Felix Mendelssohn, modern edition for concert band by David Whitwell. This composition is a beautiful hymn composed by Mendelssohn for band in 1835–1836.

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Mar­cia Fune­bre, op. 103
Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847)
Mod­ern edi­tion by David Whitwell (1937–)

Date: 1813
Instru­men­ta­tion: Con­cert Band
Dura­tion: 8:20
Lev­el: 4

Notes on Mendelssohn’s Marcia Funebre

This com­po­si­tion is a beau­ti­ful hymn com­posed by Mendelssohn for band in 1835–1836. At this time the title, “Funer­al March,” was a genre of ded­i­ca­to­ry com­po­si­tions in someone’s hon­or and should not be assumed to be either a march or a com­po­si­tion in a sad char­ac­ter. The com­po­si­tion is a rare nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry work for large band by a famous com­pos­er.

Mendelssohn’s orig­i­nal instru­men­ta­tion for the Mar­cia fune­bre was,

Grosse Flute
Oboi
2 Clar­inets in F
2 Clar­inets in C
2 Bas­set horns
2 Bas­soons
2 Horns in E
2 Horns in C
2 Trum­pets in C
3 Trom­bones
Con­tra­bas­soon
[a lat­er hand adds “& Basshorn”]

A lat­er hand, not Mendelssohn’s, has added “& Basshorn.”

In this edi­tion, as we some­times do for the stu­dents’ intro­duc­tion to mas­ter com­posers, we have added sax­o­phone parts. If one wished to approx­i­mate the orig­i­nal sound, the omis­sion of the sax­o­phone parts and the sub­sti­tu­tion of a con­tra­bas­soon for the tuba part would accom­plish this.

The only sig­nif­i­cant change in Mendelssohn’s artic­u­la­tions in the orig­i­nal man­u­script has been my sub­sti­tu­tion of the mod­ern wedge-accent for the orig­i­nal sforzan­do sign. The com­mon mod­ern wedge-accent was at this date not in gen­er­al use and the sfz sign was the more com­mon means of indi­cat­ing a melod­ic accent. How­ev­er, after the very point­ed use by Stravin­sky and the fol­low­ing 20th cen­tu­ry, I find mod­ern con­duc­tors and play­ers tend to pro­duce a much stronger impact than Mendelssohn would have imag­ined.

David Whitwell