15 pages, folio (c.28.5 x 22cm), 16-stave paper, with an extra hand-drawn stave at the bottom of page 9, no place or date, with a later English translation in pencil added by another hand, the leaves loosely held in archival sleeves, modern green folding case (c.39.5 x 32.5cm), gilt titles to cover and spine, no place or date, [Frankfurt, July 1836], some dust-marking to lower corners
This manuscript incorporates Mendelssohn's revisions after the first performances in 1836 for the publication of the full orchestral score the following year. The composer sent his Stichvorlage to Simrock piecemeal during July 1836 and, while Mendelssohn's autograph of his original version is in Krakow, this manuscript represents the only autograph of his final definitive version to survive.
This is a working manuscript by Mendelssohn. Although written out elegantly, as always with this composer, he continues to make many alterations and revisions, deleting and rewriting passages of the orchestration and choral parts. The spectacular first performance took place at the eighteenth Lower Rhine Music Festival on 22 May 1836, but throughout the summer 1836, Mendelssohn continued to work on improvements for the publication of the full score. He wrote to Moscheles and to his sister Rebecca from Frankfurt, explaining "even now I am at work...on the orchestral score; so much is there that completely fails to express my idea, in fact does not come near it... The whole time I have been here I have worked on St Paul because I wish to publish it in as perfect a form as possible..." (letters of 20 July and 2 August 1836). The manuscript contains copious revisions and bears the casting-off marks for pages 347-369 of Simrock's engraved first edition, with page 348, marking the start of the chorus, written in pencil at the bottom of the first page.
St Paul was Mendelssohn's first oratorio, and he appears to have considered it his most important work thus far. He began in 1834, after making several arrangements of Handel's oratorios. Mendelssohn had been inspired by a performance of Handel's Israel in Egypt at Düsseldorf in 1833, particularly impressed with the final soprano recitative and chorus: "The soprano solo was sung behind the scene, as if proceeding from the picture: and when the chorus came in forte, real trombones and trumpets and kettledrums were brought on the stage and burst out like a thunderclap" (letter to Rebecca of 26 October 1833).
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