Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, generally known in English-speaking countries as Felix Mendelssohn was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the early eriod.
Felix Mendelssohn was born into a wealthy, prominent , although initially he was raised without religion and was later baptised as a . He was recognized early on as a , but his parents were cautious and unlike Mozart, did not seek to capitalize on his talent.
Mendelssohn's work includes , , , and . His most-performed works include his Overture and incidental music for , the , the , the overture , his , and his for Strings.
Felix Mendelssohn was born on February 3rd, 1809 in . His father was a banker with his mother giving him his first introduction to music. He was the second of four children; his older sister also displayed exceptional and precocious musical talent
The family moved to Berlin in 1811 when young Felix was just two.
The Mendelssohns sought to give their children – Fanny, Felix, and – the best education possible. Fanny became a well-known pianist and amateur composer. Originally Mendelssohn’s father had thought that she, rather than Felix, would be the more musical. However, at that time, it was not considered proper for a woman to have a career in music, so Fanny remained an active, but non-professional musician.
Mendelssohn grew up in an intellectual environment. Frequent visitors to the organized by his parents at the family's home in Berlin included eminent artists, musicians and scientists.
Like before him, Mendelssohn was regarded as a . He began taking piano lessons from his mother when he was six, and at seven was professionally tutored in Paris. From at least May of 1819 Felix (and his sister Fanny) studied and composition.
Mendelssohn made his first public concert appearance at age nine, when he participated in a concert accompanying a duo. He was also a prolific composer from an early age. As an adolescent, his works were often performed at home with a private orchestra for the friends and associates of his wealthy parents and the intellectual elite of Berlin.
Between the ages of 12 and 14, Mendelssohn wrote 12 string symphonies for such concerts. These works were ignored for over a century, but are now regularly recorded and played in concerts. He wrote his first published work, a piano quartet, by the time he was 13.
In 1824, the 15-year-old Mendelssohn wrote his for full orchestra.
At age 16, Mendelssohn wrote his Octet for Strings, the first work which showed the full power of his genius.
This Octet and his Overture to 's , which he wrote a year later, are the best-known of his early works.
In 1824 Mendelssohn studied under the composer and piano virtuoso , who confessed in his diaries that he had little to teach him.
Over the next few years Mendelssohn traveled widely, including making his first visit to England in 1829 and also visiting amongst other places , , Milan, Rome and , in all of which he met with local and visiting musicians and artists. These years proved the inspiration for some of his most famous works, including the and the Scottish and Italian symphonies.
On subsequent visits he met and her musical husband , who both greatly admired his music.
In the course of ten visits to Britain during his life, totalling about 20 months, Mendelssohn had a strong following, sufficient for him to make a deep impression on British musical life. He composed and performed, and also edited the first critical editions of of Handel and of the music of J.S. Bach.
In 1835 Mendelssohn was named conductor of the .
He was deluged by offers of music from rising composers and would-be composers.
Mendelssohn also revived interest in . , who had discovered the manuscript of Schubert's , sent it to Mendelssohn, who promptly premiered it in Leipzig on March 21st, 1839, more than a decade after Schubert's death.
Mendelssohn married Cécile Charlotte Sophie Jeanrenaud, the daughter of a French Protestant clergyman in 1837. The couple had five children: Carl, Marie, Paul, Lilli and Felix, none of which went on to have careers in music.
A landmark event during Mendelssohn’s Leipzig years was the premiere of his oratorio .
In 1843 Mendelssohn founded a major music school – the Leipzig Conservatory.
Mendelssohn suffered from poor health in the final years of his life, probably aggravated by nervous problems and overwork. A final tour of England left him exhausted and ill from a hectic schedule. The death of his beloved sister Fanny in May of 1847 caused him great distress. Less than six months later, on November 4th, Mendelssohn himself died in Leipzig after a series of strokes. He was 38.
Mendelssohn had once described death, in a letter as a place "where it is to be hoped there is still music, but no more sorrow or partings."