Mendelsson’s overture The Hebrides

fingals cave aerial

Fingal’s Cave from a bird’s view

It is a well known fact, that one of the popular classical music creations of Felix Mendelssohn was inspired by a beatiful nature of Hebrides Islands. This is a concert overture “The Hebrides” (German: Die Hebriden), Op. 26, also known as Fingal’s Cave (Die Fingalshöhle), which was composed  in 1830. The piece was inspired by Mendelssohn’s visit to Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa, located in the Hebrides archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. Mendelssohn first travelled to England at the invitation of a German lord after the composer’s twentieth birthday.[1] Following his tour of England, Mendelssohn proceeded to Scotland, where he began work on his Symphony No. 3, Scottish. He was engaged on a tour of Scotland with his travelling companion Karl Klingemann when he sent a postcard to his family with the opening phrase of the overture written on it. In a note to his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn he said: “In order to make you understand how extraordinarily the Hebrides affected me, I send you the following, which came into my head there.”[2] The cave at that time was approximately 35 feet (11 m) high and over 200 feet (61 m) deep, and contained black basalt pillars. (read full article in Wikipedia)



Iain Thornber claims the work, also known as Fingal’s Cave, was purposely finished on the only day of the year the cave is illuminated by sunlight. The German composer completed the initial draft on 16 December 1830. Mr Thornber says the cave is only fully illuminated around this date when the sun lies 5.6 degrees above the horizon. Fingal’s Cave is a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa off the west coast of Scotland in Argyll and Bute. (source:

There are some useful links for those who want to download sheet music or to find out more about Mendelsson’s music:

Sheet music of Mendelsson’s overture The Hebrides

Mendelssohn – Hebrides Overture (‘Fingal’s Cave’)

Video in this post: Hamblepoint, Youtube





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