A Midsummer Night's Dream
Felix Mendelssohn

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Mendelssohn has 5 entries in the Ultimate Hall of Fame — the same as Puccini and Verdi, amongst others — and this is his second. This has appeared in every chart, starting off at its highest position of number 125 in 1996.

Many commentaries on this work tend to focus on the fact that Mendelssohn wrote his Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream when he was only seventeen, in contrast to the rest of the incidental music, composed many years after. And while that's certainly true, it's easy to marvel only at that one fact instead of focusing on how exquisite the rest of the work actually is.

Aside from the Overture, A Midsummer Night's Dream was written in 1842. He was initially inspired to compose music for the play because it was a childhood favourite; to quote Mendelssohn's sister, Fanny, 'We were entwined with A Midsummer Night's Dream and Felix particularly made it his own. He identified with all of the characters. He re-created them, so to speak, every one of them whom Shakespeare produced in the immensity of his genius'.