Felix Mendelssohn
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/960x540/p01bqdsq.jpg
1809-02-03
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/0e85eb79-1c05-44ba-827c-7b259a3d941a
Felix Mendelssohn

Biography

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 ...

Read more


Biography

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 Audio & Video


Felix Mendelssohn Tracks

Sort by

Felix Mendelssohn
Octet for strings (Op.20) in E flat major, 3rd movement; Scherzo
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Octet for strings (Op.20) in E flat major, 3rd movement; Scherzo
Felix Mendelssohn
Lieder ohne Worte [Songs Without Words]
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Lieder ohne Worte [Songs Without Words]
Felix Mendelssohn
Andante and Scherzo for String Quartet, Op 81 Nos 1 & 2
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Andante and Scherzo for String Quartet, Op 81 Nos 1 & 2
Felix Mendelssohn
Symphony No.5 in D major, Op.107 'Reformation'
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Symphony No.5 in D major, Op.107 'Reformation'
Felix Mendelssohn
Prelude and fugue No. 5 in F minor
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Prelude and fugue No. 5 in F minor
Felix Mendelssohn
Variations in E flat major, Op.82
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Variations in E flat major, Op.82
Felix Mendelssohn
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61
Felix Mendelssohn
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61
Felix Mendelssohn
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61
Felix Mendelssohn
Intermezzo from A Midsummer Night's Dream
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Intermezzo from A Midsummer Night's Dream
Felix Mendelssohn
String Quartet in A minor, Op 13 (Intermezzo)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
String Quartet in A minor, Op 13 (Intermezzo)
Felix Mendelssohn
Symphony for string orchestra no. 7 in D minor, 4th movement; Allegro molto
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Symphony for string orchestra no. 7 in D minor, 4th movement; Allegro molto
Felix Mendelssohn
Piano Trio No 1 in D minor Op 49 – Scherzo
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Piano Trio No 1 in D minor Op 49 – Scherzo
Felix Mendelssohn
Piano Trio no.1 in D minor Op.49 - ii Andante
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Piano Trio no.1 in D minor Op.49 - ii Andante
Felix Mendelssohn
Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen, from 'Elias' (Elijah)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen, from 'Elias' (Elijah)
Felix Mendelssohn
Andante scherzando (String Quintet in B flat major Op.87)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Andante scherzando (String Quintet in B flat major Op.87)
Felix Mendelssohn
Concert piece no. 1 in F minor Op.113 for clarinet, basset horn and orchestra
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Concert piece no. 1 in F minor Op.113 for clarinet, basset horn and orchestra
Felix Mendelssohn
Spring Song (Fruhlingslied) in A major (Op.62 No.6)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Spring Song (Fruhlingslied) in A major (Op.62 No.6)
Felix Mendelssohn
On wings of song (Op.34 No.2) arr. anon for clarinet & piano
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
On wings of song (Op.34 No.2) arr. anon for clarinet & piano
Felix Mendelssohn
String Quartet in E minor, Op 44 No 2 - 1st movt
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
String Quartet in E minor, Op 44 No 2 - 1st movt
Felix Mendelssohn
Lieder ohne Worte - book 2 (Op.30), no.5; Andante grazioso in D major
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Lieder ohne Worte - book 2 (Op.30), no.5; Andante grazioso in D major
Felix Mendelssohn
Symphony for string orchestra no.10 in B minor
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Symphony for string orchestra no.10 in B minor
Felix Mendelssohn
Frühlingslied, Op. 71, No. 2
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Frühlingslied, Op. 71, No. 2
Felix Mendelssohn
Nachtlied, Op. 71 No. 6
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Nachtlied, Op. 71 No. 6
Felix Mendelssohn
Bei der Wiege, Op. 47 No. 6
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Bei der Wiege, Op. 47 No. 6
Felix Mendelssohn
Ye Spotted Snakes (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Ye Spotted Snakes (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
Felix Mendelssohn
Overture for Wind Instruments (Op.24) in C major
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqdsq.jpg
link
Overture for Wind Instruments (Op.24) in C major
Add music you love and enjoy it
Playlists featuring Felix Mendelssohn
Essential Classics: Guest Choices
Essential Classics: Guest Choices
Radio 3 Breakfast: Music Box
Radio 3 Breakfast: Music Box
Music With 'The Tingle Factor'
Music With 'The Tingle Factor'
BBC Proms 2015: Katie Derham Curates
BBC Proms 2015: Katie Derham Curates


Felix Mendelssohn Biography

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

Back to artist