During the summer of 1799, Goethe wrote his ballad “Die erste Walpurgisnacht” and asked his friend Carl Friedrich Zelter to set the work to music. Zelter however, felt unable to do this, and so Goethe’s wish was only realised thirty years later by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. The “heavenly words” of the pagan ballads had impressed the composer so much after a visit to Weimar, that he was inspired to set them to music. In 1832 the composition took shape and was performed a year later in the Sing-Akademie in Berlin.

Mendelssohn was, however, unhappy with the first version of the work and held it back, until he decided on a radical revision of the work ten years after its premiere.

“Die erste Walpurgisnacht” was first performed in 1843 in Leipzig, in the presence of Robert Schumann and Hector Berlioz, in the form in which the work is still performed today.

The publication of this edition by John Michael Cooper makes the work available in an Urtext edition for the first time. The edition reflects the latest state of research, and the volume includes a Critical Commentary.


- One of Mendelssohn’s most important secular works in an edition reflecting the latest research findings
- Bärenreiter Urtext for the Mendelssohn anniversary year 2009
- Critical Commentary (Eng)