Not many people know which composer wrote the famous wedding march. Today, you are going to learn about the composer who penned the wedding march. Even though he is gone, his song still lives on and now, imagining a wedding without his song playing in the background is something you cannot even fathom.
Felix Mendelssohn — The “Wedding March” Composer
German composer Felix Mendelssohn wrote the “Wedding March” in C major, completing it on January 25, in 1842. The song remains one of his most popular and well-known songs from this suite of incidental music to the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” by the famous playwright Shakespeare.
You can hear this song played at weddings on a church pipe organ. A wedding without his song playing in the background feels incomplete. Weddings that take place in several Western countries play this song as a recessional.
They combine the song from Richard Wagner’s “Lohengrin” called “Bridal Chorus. You will also hear his song played with the song called “Prince of Denmark’s March” by Jeremiah Clarke. Both these combinations are played when the bride is walking down the aisle.
Brief Bio of Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg, a former independent city and state, in 1811 to affluent Jewish parents. However, during the reign of Napoleon, he had to escape to Berlin due to the French emperor’s anger at his father’s role in breaking his continental blockade.
When he arrived at the Prussian capital, he received an excellent education and was exposed to a wonderful environment, which included several influential intellectuals of that era. A running joke that became popular at that time among contemporaries was that “Europe came to [his] drawing room.”
For this reason, it did not come as much of a surprise when he became a notable child prodigy.When most kids at 8 years play outdoors, he spent his time immersed in his studies, studying advanced musical theory in 1819.
Carl Friedrich Zelter, his tutor, exposed him to Bach and other types of Baroque music. From all the musicians he was exposed to, Bach became his favorite. Later in his career, Bach became a source of inspiration for Mendelssohn.
He had written six symphonies by the age of 14.It is said that like most child prodigies, he threw huge tantrums. His star really shined when he was selected to write an “Overture” for the comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Shakespeare.
During this time, he went back and forth to England several times. So much so that he developed an emotional attachment to the country, which he first went to in 1829. England became more like a spiritual home to him as he found a huge audience for his music there.
It was in England his song “Wedding March” became huge. Unfortunately, he was not able to see his success, as he passed away in 1847 when he was only 38 years old due to a series of strokes he suffered. After he passed away, anti-Semitism ideologies made its way to Europe, lasting until the 20th century.
It affected his reputation and fame but today, he is one of the most acclaimed composers of the Romantic era. Even though he has written several songs in his lifetime, the song that everyone knows well is the “Wedding March.”He has earned the cultural status of being associated with one of the greatest ceremonies across the world.
The First Time the Wedding March Was Played at a Wedding
Let’s travel into the past to June 2, 1847. The St. Peter’s Church in Tiverton, England is the wedding venue of Dorothy Crew and Tom Daniel. They have booked organist Samuel Reay for their wedding. She walks down the aisle in awe of everyone and her soon-to-husband.
In the background, Samuel Reay begins to play the “Wedding Match” for the audience, hence marking it the first time the composer’s song was played at a wedding. Even though this was the first time the song was played at a wedding, it took the song 11 years to become a popular song to be played at weddings.
Let’s travel to January 25, 1858 to attend the wedding of Victoria, the Princess Royal and Prince Frederick William of Prussia.
At the request of Queen Victoria’s daughter who was a huge fan of the music penned by Mendelssohn who she saw live several times when he visited New England, the organist delighted the bride and groom and everyone with the “Wedding March.”
Since then, the song rose to popularity. Presently, there is hardly any wedding where this song is not played. At weddings, only the tune of the song is played. The musicians at the wedding normally play the “Wedding March” with the “Bridal Chorus” at weddings.
The Reason Why Only the Bridal Chorus Plays at Weddings
You do not have to look further than the lyrics of the “Bridal Chorus” to find the reason why musicians only play it with the “Wedding March.” Here is the premise behind the lyrics. The song is part of an opera by Richard Wagner called the “Lohengrin,” which came out in 1850.
In the play, the song is sung by the bride and groom as they are entering the bridal chamber while the wedding party prepares both for their first night together. In addition to this, the story of these two characters ends in a tragedy instead of a happy ending.
The next time you are at a wedding and you hear his song playing as the bride comes down the aisle to meet her husband-to-be at the altar, you will know the name of the composer who composed this beautiful music. If Mendelssohn could see the impact his music left in the world, he would be proud. Even though he has passed away, his music lives on at weddings that occur around the world.