Mendelssohn – The Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave), Op. 26

by Max Derrickson

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)


The Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave), Op. 26


Having already achieved remarkable success, 20-year-old German composer and pianist Felix Mendelssohn was at a crossroad: Could he make a bona fide career in music? To help him broaden his experiences, feed his artistic endeavors, and further establish his reputation, his father funded a three-year journey through Europe.


Beginning in April 1829, Mendelssohn traveled throughEnglandandScotland, back through the major cities of Germany, and then to Hungary and Italy. All the while, he maintained his hectic concert schedule, a schedule that he would keep throughout his life. The experiences and impressions that he gained during his travels not only secured his career as a first-rate pianist and composer, but provided the creative seeds for some of his best-known works, including “The Hebrides” overture, also known as “Fingal’s Cave.”

A prodigious correspondent, Mendelssohn chronicled his travels in delightful letters to his family.  [. . .]


The short work is quintessential Mendelssohn: melodies both strong and dear, orchestrated with the touch of a master of technique, and with perfect structural and thematic balance.