Joachim, Joseph


Joachim, Joseph

Elegiac Overture Op. 13 “In memoriam Heinrich von Kleist” for orchestra

Art.-Nr.: 1787 Kategorien: ,



Joseph Joachim

Elegiac Overture Op. 13
“In memoriam Heinrich von Kleist”

(b. Kittsee, 28 June 1831 — d. Berlin, 15 August 1907)

Joachim’s In memoriam Heinrich von Kleist stands out among his overtures. Written in 1856, it is one of those few works that Joachim wrote after his “conversion,” i.e., after abandoning the New German School. Although the overture still features a programmatic title, absent are the thematic and formal innovativeness of the earlier overtures. Instead, the work displays a classical, Beethovenian transparency in texture and instrumentation, as well as formal constraint and a relatively compact ten minutes playing time. The overture was premiered 1857,1 performed several times in the ensuing decades,2 but left unpublished until 1878. At that time an arrangement for piano four hands was made.3

At the time of composition, Joachim was in close correspondence with Bettine von Arnim’s daugther Gisela, with whom he had fallen in love in 1852. One letter reveals that the work was mostly finished by November 20, 1856. Joachim writes: “I have so continuously thought of my overture all the time, that I now must rest for a few days in order to add the missing parts in a productive fresh spirit

[…] I have written the title onto the overture today: ‘Humbly dedicated to the unhappy Kleist.’’4 On December 31, 1856 Joachim again reports: “P.S. I have listened to my Kleist overture: it sounds very good.”5

An earlier manuscript throws light onto the compositional process (hereinafter the manuscript and published versions are referred to as MV and PV).6 The biggest revision we are able to gather from the 41-page manuscript – which is missing pages 36-40 — concerns the ending of MV, as evident from its last page. We see that the ending was conceived much less chromatically and less dramatically. It resembles measures 294-298, but two more measures were added, which conclude the work.


Read full preface / Komplettes Vorwort lesen > HERE

Score Data

Score No.



Repertoire Explorer




210 x 297 mm



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