Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave), op. 26, by Felix Mendelssohn, 1830
Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave), op. 26, by Felix Mendelssohn, 1830.
The Hebrides inspired more than Virginia Woolf's novel. During his grand musical tour of Scotland, Italy, France and English, which included a tour of the Hebrides Islands in 1829, Mendelssohn wrote his "Scottish" Symphony no. 3 and his Hebrides Overture. The latter piece is an instrumental concert overture and was particularly inspired by Fingal's Cave, a cave amongst the rock formations on the island of Staffa where, according to Mendelssohn, the theme for the overture came to his mind. The cave was named after Mendelssohn’s composition and comes from the Ossian cycle of poems. Some scholars claim that Mendelssohn purposely completed the overture on the only day of the year that Fingal's Cave is illuminated by sunlight (December 16, 1830).
The work is programmatic as it musically portrays the rugged and rural landscape of Scotland with swirling and soaring string lines depicting the sea waves. The work was premiered by the London Philharmonic Society under the title The Isles of Fingal. Mendelssohn's overture turned the cave into a popular tourist destination.
Attribution: Naxos Music Library
For more about the Hebrides overture, see this December 16, 2010 article from the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-12008512