In terms of natural gifts, Mendelssohn was born with more than
any other composer except for possibly Mozart. His family was naturally a musical
family. His musicianship was unparalleled during his time. And not
only did he excel in music, but also in painting and drawing. His
memory, not only in terms of music, was said to be enormous. It was
generally thought that he would have excelled in any endeavor that
Felix Mendelssohn was born February 3rd, 1809 in Hamburg, Germany, to an upper-middle class family. His father, Abraham, was an affluent banker and his mother, Leah Salomon, was an amateur musician who aided in his cultural and artistic development. Mendelssohn was one of four children, his siblings being Fanny, who would also become a noteworthy composer, Rebecca, and Paul. His grandfather's philosophical and literary views were important in the education of his grandson. During the Napoleonic invasions of Hamburg, the family escaped to Berlin, a city which was a flowering intellectual and artistic metropolis.
Mendelssohn was a fine horseman, a great swimmer, a classy dancer, and chess master, and a billiards king. His music reflects his lifestyle being completely elegant and refined. He grew up in a wealthy family and passed through life never knowing the discomforts of poverty.
By the age of 14, he had already composed several sonatas, a dozen symphonies, and a
few chamber pieces. And he continued to grow as he aged. Many child
prodigies diminished with age, Mendelssohn became a better
composer. Though he only lived 38 years, the amount that he
accomplished in those years foretells what he could have created
had died so early. During his later years, he began to frequent
England more and more. He felt like royalty there and the people
loved him. Queen Victoria even invited him to Buckingham Palace to
stay for a while. Mendelssohn gave organ recitals at St. Paul's
Cathedral and performed many of his major pieces in England. He
died on November 4th, 1847. Today we still allow his luxurious
melodies and intimate harmonies to warm our souls.
His Famous Compositions
He composed many notable pieces during his time in this world.
If you have ever been to a wedding, you have most likely heard his
ever-popular Wedding March during the recessional. He loved to
compose beautiful music. Another famous piece is his A Midsummer
Night's Dream. Two of his symphonies have grown to into very worthy
pieces. These were called his Italian and Scotch symphonies. His
greatest solo piece, without any doubt, is his Violin Concerto in e
minor. His chamber music is wondrous. It includes a body of two
piano trios, one of which, Piano Trio in d, Op.49,
made The Fifteen Greatest
ever list, seven quartets, String Quartet op. 44, no.
1, being especially exceptional. His most famous chamber piece
however being his unsurpassed octet.
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