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Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy » String Quintet no. 1 in A major » David, Ferdinand - Simrock

The edition contains no printed performance markings by David, but has been extensively annotated by him in blue crayon in all five parts, and each part bears his signature on the front cover. Red crayon markings also occur in the first and second movements; These are attributed to Mendelssohn by an inscription in David's hand on the title page of the 1st violin part: 'Die im Adagio gemachten Striche sind vom Componisten' (the cuts made in the adagio are the composer's). This obviously refers to the Andante sostenuto ('adagio' was often used at that time simply to mean a slow movement). The neatness of David's writing, significantly different from later examples, suggests that he added this comment at an early date, probably within Mendelssohn's lifetime. The red crayon revisions include not only the cuts in the Andante sostenuto, but also several alterations to the notes in that movement, including a change frompizzicato to sustainedarco chords in the final bars. In addition, the 1st-time bar and repeat in the first movement have been deleted in the same red crayon. The fact that Mendelssohn himself made the red crayon cuts is indicated by characteristics of the writing. These alterations were probably made in connection with a performance of the Quintet at a Leipzig Gerwandhaus chamber music concert, led by David, on 19 March 1836. To his inscription on the title page, after the word Adagio, David later added the words 'mit Rothstift' in the same blue crayon with which he marked up the parts and also made additional cuts in the Adagio in all five parts. This suggests that the additional cuts made only in blue crayon were not intended by Mendelssohn. At one point in the movement David deleted several more bars after having added performance markings to them.  At a later stage still, David wrote out part of his abbreviated version in ink and fixed it with sealing wax over the original page in the first violin part. 

Ferdinand David (as 2nd violin) played  in many early performances of Mendelssohn's chamber music while it was still in manuscript, probably including this Quintet; his participation in the A minor String Quartet op. 13 is attested by one of Lea Mendelssohn's letters. Eduard Rietz, Mendelssohn's violin teacher and friend, played 1st violin. 

The second movement in the published version of the Quintet was written as a lament for the early death of Eduard Rietz, shortly before the work's publication, to replace the original 2nd movement.

I am grateful to Prof. Hiromi Hoshino for first alerting me to the existence of this fascinating annotated edition and for her many interesting and informative comments on it.


Composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
Work String Quintet no. 1 in A major
Title Quintuor
Publisher Simrock
City Berlin
Date 1833 [Source: plate number comparison]
Publication Number
Instrumentation String Quintet (221) – 2 Violins · 2 Violas · 1 Cello
Partly Recomposed No


Part Plate No. Medium Annotations Musical Text(s)
Vl 1 3045 Printed Manuscript
Vl 2 3045 Printed Manuscript
Vla 1 3045 Printed Manuscript
Vla 2 3045 Printed Manuscript
Vlc 3045 Printed Manuscript