While in 2015 people are still trying to decide if “Trap Queen,” “The Night is Still Young,” or “Shut Up and Dance” is the Song of Summer, the Victorians already decided theirs. However, their music was composed as an ode to Summer.
Thus said, Summer then does not have the same association as it did then. In modern times, Summer is all about relaxing from the daily grind, letting lose and experimenting with crazy or new things. It is a hopeful time full of promise of letting go of the past and looking toward a brighter tomorrow.
The season of Summer in the 19th century, was more about mother nature’s transition from spring to autumn. A growing and maturing phase; a ‘teenage’ time of the year. So it is more than fitting that the Song of Summer 1843 was first composed by a 17 year old chap named Felix back in ’26.
He strove to capture the poetic imagery of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. The scampering of fairies’ feet can be heard in frantic semiquaver runs, while Nick Bottom’s braying donkey is evoked by humorous string glissandi. Mendelssohn revisited the piece in 1843 when he composed a selection of incidental music to accompany a staging of the play.
Close your eyes and listen to the Overture of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Seen here performed by Moscow City Symphony–Russia Philharmonic.