Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
Born to the son of a banker, Mendelssohn
grew up to the privilege and comfort of performing in his
family's garden home in Berlin. He and his sister Fanny
possessed great talent, and Mendelssohn was considered a
prodigy; he composed his first musical piece at the age
of eleven and twelve symphonies for strings by the age of
fourteen. As a seventeen-year-old, he astounded the public
with his Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream (1826), which
was inspired through the reading of Bach and Shlegel's translations
of Shakespeare. His great interest in literature took him
as far as meeting Goethe in person in 1821. In 1829, Mendelssohn
became an important figure conducive in the 19th century
rediscovery of Bach by conducting a performance of Bach's
St. Matthew's Passion at the Berlin Singakademie. For the
next six years, Mendelssohn became an extensive traveler
for the purpose of touring, writing, and promoting his music.
He incorporated the highlights of his travels in his music;
The Hebrides (1830) is his perception of the Scottish seaside.
His travel schedule took him all around England, Scotland,
Wales, and Italy, and into the scenes of Paris, London,
and Düsseldorf, where he took a job as a conductor
in 1833. In 1835, he became director of the Gewandhaus in
Leipzig, where he founded a conservatory in 1842. Six years
before his death, Mendelssohn was named director of Music
in the Academy Arts of Berlin. Due to the sorrow of the
death of his sister and a series of strokes, Mendelssohn
died in 1847, leaving the world his singular style of classically-oriented
Romanticism. His piano work, especially his "Lieder
ohne Worte (Songs Without Words)" and chamber music
are especially notable.
- Symphony No. 3 ("Scottish,"
- Symphony No. 4 ("The Italian," 1843)
- Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation," 1830)
- Overture A Midsummer Night's Dream (1826)
- A Midsummer Night's Dream (1842)
- The Hebrides, or Fingal's Cave (1830)
- Piano Concerto No. 1 (1832)
- Piano Concerto No. 2 (1837)
- Violin Concerto (1844)
- St. Paul (1836)
- Elijah (1846)
- The First Walpurgis Night (1832)
- Lieder ohne Worte ("Songs
Without Words," 1829-1845)
- Sonata for Piano in E flat Major (op. 12, 1830)
- C minor trio (Op. 66,
- D Minor Trio (op. 49)
- Octet for Strings (1825)
Felix Mendelssohn- biographical
The Classical Music Pages. Ed. Matt Boynick. Feb. 1996.
Sony Classical. Sony Music Entertainment.
Hagar, Kroy. Mendelssohn. 8 March 2000 <
Longyear, Ray M. Nineteenth-Century Romanticism
in Music. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1988.
Rosen, Charles. The Romantic Generation.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.