Mendelssohn: “On Wings Of Song” For Cello

Here is Felix Mendelssohn’s (1809 -1847) sublimely beautiful “On Wings Of Song” transcribed for cello. This is the second song in his short volume of “Sechs Gesänge (Six Songs) Op. 34, written in 1834. Whereas this piece is often played on the cello in a higher key, we offer it here in two different alternative versions:

  1. a version in which the original (low) key of Ab major has been conserved. This allows us to alternate between the tender, warm, D-string for the main theme and the stronger A-string for the more dramatic passages. Using the original key also allows us to play this arrangement with Mendelssohn’s standard piano accompaniment.
  2. an alternative version in F major which, by starting in a lower register (key), allows us to comfortably play the second verse (repeat) one octave higher.

Apart from the use of different key, these two versions are given exactly the same treatment (slurs, articulations, bowings etc) in their Performance Versions. In both cases, some minor changes have been made to Mendelssohn’s original rhythms in the melody line. Very often, in songs, the words make certain rhythms obligatory, but when we play the song on a string instrument we are no longer limited by the syllabic structure of the poem. This means that we may want to use our imagination to “improve” the melodic line, making it perhaps a little more interesting, simple, flowing or varied by taking tiny liberties with the rhythmic structure (see “Transcribing Vocal Music For Cello“). For the purist in all of us, we always have the Literal Transcription to go back to if we are not happy with these modifications/liberties!

Original Key: Edited Performance Version       Original Key: Clean Performance Version        Original Key: Literal Transcription

And here below is a play-along audio accompaniment in the original key, of which there are several available on YouTube, usually however at a slightly slower speed:


And here below are the playing parts for our F Major version, for which no written piano part has been made yet but which can be played with the play-along audio accompaniment offered here below:

F Major: Edited Performance Version       F Major: Clean Performance Version