Recently, I had interesting conversation with my friend about classical music composers. I was really surprised when I heard that he didn’t know that ‘Wedding March’ is one of the greatest pieces of Felix Mendelssohn.
That made me to do some research on that topic and I was again surprised when I found out that just someone who really listen classical music, know exactly who is Felix Mendelssohn. So I decided to dedicate this to the life of Felix Mendelssohn.
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, or just Felix Mendelssohn (thank you Felix for that, it’s simpler) came from a wealthy Hamburg family who mixed with many of Germany’s leading artists and musicians. He was born on February 3, 1889, a frighteningly clever child prodigy, the young Felix excelled as a painter, poet, athlete, linguist and musician.
It was a rarity at that time to be born in a wealthy family, so Felix was lucky that he could nurture his talent from his childhood. When he was six, his mother gave him piano lessons and he was amazing from beginning. They were one big musical family.
His sister Fanny later became a well-known pianist and amateur composer. Although in the beginning, their father thought she was more talented than Felix, but at that time it was inappropriate for a woman to have a career in music, so she remained an amateur musician.
Abraham Mendelssohn, son of the famous Jewish philosopher Mezes Mendelssohn, encouraging the talent of his son Felix and allow him to develop freely.
He hired well-known musicians to play the first music pieces of his son at his house.
The old man was sowed with pride when they congratulated him on the success of his son.
“Well” – he said merrily – “when I was a kid, then I was the son of Moses Mendelssohn. Now I’m the father of Felix Mendelssohn! What am I really? Nothing but the connection between the two generations.”
Mendelssohn is often considered as the greatest musical “wonderkid” after Mozart. When he was a child, he wrote five operas and eleven symphonies, with just nine years he had his first public appearance when he participated in a chamber music concert. Like Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn, wrote the music out of his head. Sometimes it was in the middle of the conversation, which caused wonder and admiration of his friends.
From twelve to thirteen years old, inspired by Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, he wrote twelve symphonies for string instruments. With thirteen years he published his first work, “Piano Quartet”. With fifteen years he published his first symphony. At sixteen he finished “String Octet,” the first work that reflects his genius, and a year later the overture to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
If you ask me, that is a much better childhood than playing Xbox and Playstation.
One of the most important things that contributed to his success in his music career, was that he knows how to enjoy in life. He loved to travel, a lot.
But the best in his travels was that he knew how to make the best of the places he visited. So, for example, visit to Italy inspired him to write ‘The Italian Symphony’ and Scotland to write ‘Hebrides Overture’ and ‘The Scottish Symphony’. Britain had the most influence on his music. His first time in Britain was in 1829. In Britain, he entered in the influential musical circles where he had great success playing in public and private concerts.
His glory in the UK contributed that he gave singing classes to Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria chose Mendelssohn’s ‘Wedding March’ for her daughter’s wedding, and that contributed to the popularity of this composition, which is still used at all weddings at a time when the bride comes down the aisle.
Mendelssohn is one of the few composers who have achieved fame during his life. His ‘Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in G minor’ was a hit, and at one time was the most performed concerto for piano ever written.
Mendelssohn conducted the orchestra in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach, a century earlier, wrote some of his masterpieces. Mendelssohn is, in fact, played a major role in popularizing the music of Bach. Many of his compositions are rotting after his death (or was thrown). Felix Mendelssohn had found and brought Bach’s masterpiece ‘St. Matthew Passion’ for the first time after Bach’s death. From that moment on, Bach became a respected, admired and loved all over the world. Thank you Felix, again.
When it came time to conducting the first performance of the ‘Matthew’s Passion’, Felix Mendelssohn came to the podium and opened his notes. But he had one little problem. While the audience came into the hall, Felix was revealed that he had the wrong notes! The book looked the same as the Bach’s compositions – equally thick, the same leather cover – however, it was a completely different composition. But great Mendelssohn raised his baton and began to conduct Bach’s piece, turning the wrong notes from time to time, so he wouldn’t confused musicians who thought that everything is in fine. He managed to conduct all Bach’s Passion (which takes more than two hours), without noticeable mistakes.
Growing up in a happy family was caused the fact that Mendelssohn also had happy marriage. In 1836, a year after his father died, Mendelssohn met Cécile Jeanrenaud in Frankfurt. Mendelssohn was 10 years older than her. The couple married on March 28, 1837. and they had five children.
Before the end of his life, Mendelssohn was very ill. 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.
Last trip to England exhausted him and after several heart attacks died in November 4, 1847. 38, only six months after the death of his sister Fanny. He once described the death as a place ‘where it is to be hoped there is still music, but no more sorrow or partings’.
WhenQueen VictoriaheardaboutMendelssohn’sdeath, she described himas”the bestmusical genius, next to the Mozart.”
Although he was only 38 when he died, Mendelssohn managed to distinguish himself as one of the first significant Romantic composers of the 1800s.
He wasn’t just musician, Mendelssohn also was a remarkable painter of watercolors and he was very good at drawing. Sometimes he even made sketches and caricatures in his letters. Plus, he was involved in literature, philosophy, and he spoke English, Italian and Latin.
Maybe he died young, but he lived! We can learn a lot from the life of great Felix Mendelssohn, who knew that everything you need in your life is your family and everything else will come after that. It can be seen from the sentence from the letter that he sent to his friend Ignaz Moscheles in 1832:
“I stayed at home because I prefer to be in my own room, with my own family, or in my garden — which is lovely this year…”