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Felix Mendelssohn: biography

personalities : Felix Mendelssohn: biography

“People often complain that the music is too ambiguous, they have to think when they listen, it is so incomprehensible, at the same time everyone understands the words. It happens to me exactly the opposite, and not only regarding the whole speech, but also about individual words ”

Felix Mendelssohn

The content of the article

  • Little Wunderkind - Felix Mendelssohn
  • Years of study
    • Beginning of a conducting career
    • At the peak of popularity

Little Wunderkind - Felix Mendelssohn

Jacob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy was born in Hamburg on February 3, 1809 in the family of the banker Abraham, who was the son of the famous Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, and Leah Solomon. Parents sought to abandon Judaism, their children did not receive a religious education and were baptized in the Lutheran church in 1816.

The surname Bartholdi was added at the suggestion of Leah’s brother, Jacob. Abraham later explained this decision in a letter to Felix as a means of showing a decisive break with the traditions of his father Moses. Although Felix signed Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in obedience to his father, he did not mind using only the first part of the family name.

The family moved to Berlin in 1811. Parents sought to give Felix, his brother Paul and sisters Fanny and Rebecca the best education. The older sister, Fanny, became a famous pianist and amateur composer. Initially, her father thought that she was more musically gifted, but did not consider a career in music suitable for a young girl.

At the age of 6, Felix Mendelssohn began to receive piano lessons from his mother, and from the age of seven he studied with Marie Bigot in Paris. Since 1817, he studied composition with Karl Friedrich Zelter. At 9 years old, his debut took place when he took part in a chamber concert in Berlin.

Zelter introduced Felix to his friend Goethe, who later shared his impressions of his young talent, citing a comparison with Mozart:

“Musical miracles ... probably no longer so rare; but what this little man can do by playing improvisation or from the sheet is on the verge of magic. I can’t believe that this is possible at such an early age. ”

“Nevertheless, you heard Mozart in his seventh year in Frankfurt”> Later Felix met Goethe repeatedly and put to music a lot of his poems.

Years of study

Since 1819, Mendelssohn began to compose music without stopping.

Mendelssohn was admitted to the Berlin Choir Academy in 1819. From that moment he composed without stopping.

I must say that from childhood Felix was a very fruitful composer. The first edition of his works was published in 1822, when the young composer was only 13 years old. And at the age of 15 he wrote his first symphony for the orchestra in C minor (Op. 11). A year later - a work that showed the full power of his genius - Octet in E Flat Major (Op.20). This Octet and the overture of “A Midsummer Night's Dream” written in 1826 (of which the Wedding March was a part) are the most famous of the composer's early works.

In 1824, Mendelssohn began taking lessons from composer and virtuoso pianist Ignaz Mosheles, who once admitted that he could teach little to Felix. Mosheles became a colleague and friend of Mendelssohn for life.

In addition to music, Mendelssohn's education included visual arts, literature, languages, and philosophy. For his mentor, Heise translated Andria Terence in 1825. The teacher was amazed and published it as the work of “his student F ****”. This translation was Mendelssohn's qualification work for obtaining the right to study at the University of Berlin, where he attended lectures on the aesthetics of Georg Hegel, on the history of Edward Hans and the geography of Karl Ritter.

Beginning of a conducting career

Mendelssohn's office in Leipzig

At the Choir Academy of Berlin, Mendelssohn became a conductor, and, with the support of the director of the academy, Zelter, as well as with the help of a friend Eduard Devrint, he was able to stage Johann Bach's The Passion for Matthew in 1829. The success of this work marked the beginning of the revival of Bach's music in Germany, and then throughout Europe.

In the same year, Felix first visited the UK, where he held a concert of the Philharmonic Society. By that time, his friend, Mosheles, already lived in London. He introduced Mendelssohn to influential music circles. After the metropolitan program, the composer traveled through Scotland, where he made sketches of overtures, which later became very famous - “Hebrides” and “Fingal's Cave”.

After returning to Germany, he was offered a teaching position at the University of Berlin, but Mendelssohn refused him. For several years, the composer traveled to Europe, where he wrote a number of works, and in 1832 published the first book, “Songs Without Words”.

On March 28, 1837, Mendelssohn married Cecile Genreno (daughter of a Protestant clergyman)

In 1833, Felix Mendelssohn became the conductor of the Rhine Music Festival in Dusseldorf, where he presented his works annually. And two years later he began active conducting in Leipzig, setting himself the goal: to make it a musical center of European scale.

The following year, 1836, the composer received an honorary doctorate from the University of Leipzig. In the same year he met Cecile Genreneau, daughter of a Protestant clergyman. March 28, 1837 their wedding took place. The marriage was happy, and the couple had five children.

At the peak of popularity

King of Prussia did not abandon attempts to lure the composer to Berlin, as a result Mendelssohn was appointed music director of the Academy of Arts. Until 1845, he periodically worked in Berlin, without leaving his post in Leipzig. Sometimes he traveled to England, performing his work in London and Birmingham, where he met with Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. The royal couple were admirers of his music.

In 1843, Felix Mendelssohn founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music, the first educational institution of its kind in Germany, thus fulfilling his dream and making Leipzig a musical center on a map of the country.

He also completed a number of his works, including The Scottish Symphony and Concert for violin and orchestra. In 1844, he held five philharmonic concerts in London.

Gradually, the composer's health began to deteriorate, and three years later he was literally devastated by the death of his sister Fanny. Leaving for Switzerland in order to improve his health, he graduated from the String Quartet in F minor, and returned to Leipzig, having completely exhausted his vital energy. Felix Mendelssohn died on November 4, 1847 at the age of 38.

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