Victor Hugo’s play Ruy Blas is about a slave who falls in love with the queen of Spain; the feeling is reciprocated, but the story – inevitably – ends in tragedy.
Mendelssohn didn’t like the play; and, when the Leipzig Theatre attempted to commission music for a benefit performance (for the theatre pension fund) of the work, he turned them down claiming he simply hadn’t the time. Undaunted, they re-petitioned the composer, asking if he could possibly supply the piece for the following season. Mendelssohn relented, joking that the overture should be entitled not Ruy Blas but [see above].
Our logo/featured image for this term –
based on an early Augener edition of Mendelssohn’s 42 Songs Without Words for piano –
comes to us courtesy of the artistic skills of Bill Bytheway.