In April I celebrated the marriage of my friends Trevor and Nikki by sequencing Wagner’s Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin. Today I am celebrating another dear friend from college, John, as he weds his perfect match, Sherine. This sequence is based on the other “most famous wedding song in the world,” Felix Mendelssohn‘s Wedding March from his incidental music for William Shakespeare‘s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
While Wagner’s bridal chorus is depicting the marriage of a fair maiden to a heroic, honor-defending knight, Mendelssohn’s wedding march is somewhat lighter in setting.
Toward the end of a whirlwind story of young lovers losing their minds due to love potions administered by fairies, this wedding march announces the nuptials of the Duke Theseus of Athens and the Amazon Queen, Hippolyta.
Lohengrin’s story is deadly serious, bringing to life themes of honor, chivalry, and the holy grail. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a comedy, playing up irony in its many forms until eventually the problems work out and everyone goes home happy.
Although the two pieces were separated by only eight years, and both come from Germanic composers, these pieces feel very different. Lohengrin has a weightiness to it, Mendelssohn has a shimmering airiness to it. Listen to the video below and hear for yourself.
This melody is a combination of string melody and trumpet fanfare. The first three bars are strings, and the arpeggio in bar four is a trumpet call.
Phrase through the first bar toward the slur on the downbeat of the second bar. Enjoy the slur before bouncing down the quarter notes. Use the 16th notes in bar three as pickups to the longer notes before you spit out the 8th note arpeggio in bar four like a section of trumpets announcing a king and queen. Repeat the phrasing on the second half of the melody, phrasing toward the downbeat of the final bar, and enjoy a light resolution on the final note.
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