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Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Edit Profile

Composer , conductor , organist , pianist

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period.

Background

Felix Mendelssohn was born on February 3, 1809, in Hamburg, at the time an independent city-state. When Mendelssohn was 2 years old, he moved to Berlin with his parents and siblings.

Education

In Berlin, the young Mendelssohn began taking piano lessons with Ludwig Berger. Mendelssohn also studied composition under composer K. F. Zelter as a child. In 1816, he broadened his lessons, studying under pianist Marie Bigot during an extended stay in Paris, France.

Career

In 1819, Felix Mendelssohn joined the Singakademie music academy and began composing non-stop. In 1820 alone, he wrote a violin sonata, two piano sonatas, multiple songs, a cantata, a brief opera and a male quartet.

In 1824 Mendelssohn studied under the composer and piano virtuoso Ignaz Moscheles, who confessed in his diaries that he had little to teach him.

In 1826, Mendelssohn produced one of his best known works, Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream. He presented his opera The Marriage of the Camacho, the following year in Berlin. It was the only opera of his performed in public during his life.

Besides music, Mendelssohn's education included art, literature, languages, and philosophy. Mendelssohn studied at the Humboldt University of Berlin, where from 1826 to 1829 he attended lectures on aesthetics by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, on history by Eduard Gans and on geography by Carl Ritter.

At Singakademie, Mendelssohn also became a conductor. In 1829, he conducted a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. The performance's success led to other great opportunities, including a chance to conduct the London Philharmonic Society that same year. Inspired by his visit to England and Scotland, Mendelssohn began composing his Symphony No. 3; it took more than a decade to complete. Known as his Scottish Symphony, the work commemorated his visit to Holyrood Chapel in Edinburgh and the highlands.

Mendelssohn continued to compose prolifically while working as a conductor. He wrote the Reformation Symphony in 1830, and followed that accomplishment with a three-year European tour. During that time, he published his first book of songs, entitled Songs without Words (1832). Italian Symphony (1833), another of Mendelssohn's best known works, was also born of this period. In 1835, Mendelssohn was granted an illustrious role: conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig.

In 1837, Mendelssohn composed his Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor. From 1838 to 1844, he toiled away on his Violin Concerto in E Minor. Prior to the piece's completion, Mendelssohn founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music and became its director. In so doing, he put Leipzig on the map as the musical center of Germany. After finishing Violin Concerto in E Minor, Mendelssohn conducted a string of concerts for the Philharmonic. In 1846 he presented his newly written Elijah at the Birmingham Festival.

In May 1847, Mendelssohn's sister, Fanny, who was a lifelong inspiration to him, died suddenly. Her death left him so devastated that he soon lost his own zest for life. His health, already compromised by his strenuous career, began to deteriorate rapidly. Six months later, on November 4, 1847, Felix Mendelssohn died of a ruptured blood vessel in Leipzig, Germany.

Achievements

  • The distinguished composer, pianist and conductor Felix Mendelssohn was one of the most-celebrated figures of the early Romantic period, who wrote Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream and founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music.

    Felix Mendelssohn was awarded the Order of Merit.

Works

Religion

Although Mendelssohn was a conforming Christian as a member of the Reformed Church, he was both conscious and proud of his Jewish ancestry and notably of his connection with his grandfather, Moses Mendelssohn.

Views

Quotations: "People often complain that music is too ambiguous, that what they should think when they hear it is so unclear, whereas everyone understands words. With me, it is exactly the opposite, and not only with regard to an entire speech but also with individual words. "

"I know perfectly well that no musician can make his thoughts or his talents different to what Heaven has made them; but I also know that if Heaven had given him good ones, he must also be able to develop them properly. "

"Such a divine profession is art! When everything else looks so stale and disgustingly vacuous, so enthralls even the littlest real effort of art our innermost and carries us from town, from country, from earth, as that it must be truely a blessing of the Gods. "

Personality

Mendelssohn’s image was presented as that of a man always equable, happy and placid in temperament. But Mendelssohn was frequently given to alarming fits of temper which occasionally led to collapse.

Mendelssohn also was an enthusiastic artist in pencil and watercolour, a skill which he used throughout his life for his own pleasure and that of his friends. His enormous correspondence shows that he could also be a witty writer in German and English – sometimes accompanied by humorous sketches and cartoons in the text.

Connections

On March 28, 1837, Felix Mendelssohn married Cécile Charlotte Sophie Jeanrenaud, the daughter of a French Reformed Church clergyman. The couple had five children: Carl, Marie, Paul, Lili and Felix.

father:
Abraham Ernst Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Abraham Ernst Mendelssohn Bartholdy was a German banker and philanthropist.

mother:
Felicia Pauline Lea Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Salomon)

Felicia Pauline Lea Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Salomon) was a member of the Itzig family and a sister of Jakob Salomon Bartholdy.

sister:
Caecilia Mendelssohn

sister:
Rebecka Henriette Dirichlet (Mendelssohn Bartholdy)

sister:
Fanny Cecilia Hensel (Mendelssohn)

Fanny Cecilia Hensel (Mendelssohn) was a German pianist and composer.

wife:
Cécile Charlotte Sophie Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Jeanrenaud)

daughter:
Fanny Henriette Elisabeth Lili Wach (Mendelssohn Bartholdy)

daughter:
Marie Pauline Helene Benecke (Mendelssohn Bartholdy)

son:
Carl Wolfgang Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Carl Wolfgang Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy was a German historian, and Professor of History at Heidelberg and Freiburg universities.

son:
Paul Felix Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Paul Felix Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy was a German chemist and a pioneer in the manufacture of aniline dye.

son:
Felix August Eduard Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Jr.

Brother:
Paul Hermann Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (Mendelssohn)

Paul Hermann Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (Mendelssohn) was a German banker.

friend:
Ignaz Moscheles