Felix Mendelssohn
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1809-02-03
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Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn Biography (BBC)

Felix Mendelssohn – grandson of an eminent Jewish philosopher and son of a wealthy banker who converted to Christianity – came from a happy and privileged background. The family home in Berlin was a lively intellectual centre and Felix’s education covered classics, science, languages, law and several other subjects besides music.

From the age of 11 he composed fluently and prolifically: a huge quantity of piano and chamber music, five concertos, a few little operas and a dozen symphonies for strings preceded his official Symphony No. 1 of 1824. Then came the works that demonstrated not just precocious talent but real depth, among them the Octet for strings (1825) and, a year later, the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In his early twenties, beginning in 1829 with the first of his many visits to England, he spent three years travelling around Europe, meeting almost every cultural figure of note. His sensitivity to the spirit of the places he visited can be heard in such works as the ‘Italian’ and ‘Scottish’ Symphonies and the overture The Hebrides.

From 1833 to 1835 he worked mainly in Düsseldorf, and then from 1835 until his early death he was Municipal Music Director and conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, where in 1843 he founded the influential Conservatory. He was outstanding as a pianist, organist, conductor and organiser, and tireless in promoting other composers’ music old and new – famously reviving Bach’s St Matthew Passion in 1829 and giving the posthumous first performance of Schubert’s Ninth Symphony in 1839.

Although he composed prolifically up to the end of his life in almost all forms (he never found the right opera libretto), he was rarely satisfied with his own facility, often keeping aside his major scores for a long period before presenting them to the public: the Violin Concerto (completed 1844) was six years in the making and the oratorio Elijah (completed 1846) nearly eight.

Mendelssohn was very conscious of his part in an unbroken tradition of German music deriving from Bach and the great classics of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and in each of his major works searched for means of infusing this tradition with his own modern Romantic sensibility.

If his reputation suffered from the heavier performing styles of the later 19th century, which tended to sentimentalise his music, and also from the current of anti-Semitism that led to his music being banned by the Nazis, a modern perspective can appreciate his freshness and directness of expression, as well as the perfect ear for colour and texture, that place him among the greatest composers of any age.

Profile © Andrew Huth

Felix Mendelssohn Biography (Wikipedia)

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (3 February 1809 – 4 November 1847 (aged 38)), born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period.

A grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn was born into a prominent Jewish family. He was brought up without religion until the age of seven, when he was baptised as a Reformed Christian. Mendelssohn was recognised early as a musical prodigy, but his parents were cautious and did not seek to capitalise on his talent.

Mendelssohn enjoyed early success in Germany, where he also revived interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and in his travels throughout Europe. He was particularly well received in Britain as a composer, conductor and soloist, and his ten visits there – during which many of his major works were premiered – form an important part of his adult career. His essentially conservative musical tastes, however, set him apart from many of his more adventurous musical contemporaries such as Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner, Charles-Valentin Alkan and Hector Berlioz. The Leipzig Conservatoire (now the University of Music and Theatre Leipzig), which he founded, became a bastion of this anti-radical outlook.

This entry is from Wikipedia, the user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors and is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. If you find the biography content factually incorrect or highly offensive you can edit this article at Wikipedia. Find out more about our use of this data.

Felix Mendelssohn Performances & Interviews


Felix Mendelssohn Tracks

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Felix Mendelssohn
Symphony no. 8 in D major for string orchestra
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Symphony no. 8 in D major for string orchestra
Felix Mendelssohn
Italian Symphony - 4th movement
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Italian Symphony - 4th movement
Felix Mendelssohn
Symphony no. 3 in A minor Op.56 (Scottish): 2nd movement; Vivace non troppo
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Symphony no. 3 in A minor Op.56 (Scottish): 2nd movement; Vivace non troppo
Felix Mendelssohn
Six Choruses, Op. 88: No.4 Die Waldvogelein
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Six Choruses, Op. 88: No.4 Die Waldvogelein
Felix Mendelssohn
Concerto for violin and orchestra (Op.64) in E minor, 3rd mvt; Allegro molto...
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Concerto for violin and orchestra (Op.64) in E minor, 3rd mvt; Allegro molto...
Felix Mendelssohn
Symphony no. 5 in D major Op.107 (Reformation)
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Symphony no. 5 in D major Op.107 (Reformation)
Felix Mendelssohn
Rondo Capriccioso, Op.14
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Rondo Capriccioso, Op.14
Felix Mendelssohn
The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave) - overture Op.26
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The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave) - overture Op.26
Felix Mendelssohn
Elijah, op. 70
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Elijah, op. 70
Felix Mendelssohn
A Midsummer Night's Dream - incidental music (Op.61)
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A Midsummer Night's Dream - incidental music (Op.61)
Felix Mendelssohn
Hora est for chorus and organ (antiphon and responsorium)
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Hora est for chorus and organ (antiphon and responsorium)
Felix Mendelssohn
String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 12 - iii. Andante espressivo
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String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 12 - iii. Andante espressivo
Felix Mendelssohn
Violin Concerto – final mvt.
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Violin Concerto – final mvt.
Felix Mendelssohn
The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave) - overture Op.26
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The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave) - overture Op.26
Felix Mendelssohn
Piano Concerto no.2 in D minor (Op.40)
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Piano Concerto no.2 in D minor (Op.40)
Felix Mendelssohn
Violin Concerto for Flute
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Violin Concerto for Flute
Felix Mendelssohn
Fugue in F minor Op35 No5
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Fugue in F minor Op35 No5
Felix Mendelssohn
Quartet No. 6 In F Minor Op.80 For Strings, i. Allegro vivace assai - Presto
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Quartet No. 6 In F Minor Op.80 For Strings, i. Allegro vivace assai - Presto
Felix Mendelssohn
Prelude and Fugue in E minor (Op.35 No.1)
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Prelude and Fugue in E minor (Op.35 No.1)
Felix Mendelssohn
12 Songs (Op.9) ;no.5; Im Herbst
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12 Songs (Op.9) ;no.5; Im Herbst
Felix Mendelssohn
Octet for Strings (Op. 20 ) in E flat major [1825]
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Octet for Strings (Op. 20 ) in E flat major [1825]
Felix Mendelssohn
Lobgesang (Symphony No.2) Op.52 For Soloists, Chorus And Orchestra
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Lobgesang (Symphony No.2) Op.52 For Soloists, Chorus And Orchestra
Felix Mendelssohn
A Midsummer night's dream - incidental music (Op.61), no.1; Scherzo
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A Midsummer night's dream - incidental music (Op.61), no.1; Scherzo
Felix Mendelssohn
Scherzo from 'A Midsummer night's dream' arr. Warren for organ
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Scherzo from 'A Midsummer night's dream' arr. Warren for organ
Felix Mendelssohn
Octet for strings (Op.20) in E flat major - iii. Scherzo
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Octet for strings (Op.20) in E flat major - iii. Scherzo
Felix Mendelssohn
Wind music from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', Op.61
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Wind music from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', Op.61
Felix Mendelssohn
The Bees' Wedding (Song without Words, Op. 67 No. 4)
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The Bees' Wedding (Song without Words, Op. 67 No. 4)
Felix Mendelssohn
Wedding March & Elfins Dance from "A Midsummer
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Wedding March & Elfins Dance from "A Midsummer
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