Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

The Mozart of the 19th Century

Donald Macleod explores the long-lasting influence Mendelssohn's rigorous education had on his outlook and music-making.

Felix Mendelssohn had a remarkable, if brief career, cut short at the age of just 38 in 1847. He was born into an exceptional family. His grandfather Moses was a much respected Jewish philosopher, while his father Abraham, a wealthy Jewish banker and his mother Lea, a cultivated, musical woman had the standing and means to provide their four children with every opportunity Berlin society could offer. Only a handful of composers can match Mendelssohn's precocious talent. A child prodigy, famously likened by his friend Robert Schumann to Mozart, Felix's public career began at the age of 9. Between the ages of 11 and 15, he wrote 13 strings symphonies, 5 concertos, 4 operas, chamber music, piano and organ pieces, solo songs and choral pieces. Across the week Donald explores the musical treasures inspired by these formative years.

Mendelssohn's education was nothing if not thorough. From the age of nine, a long list of tutors arrived at the family home to teach a comprehensive list of subjects ranging from Latin to geography but perhaps the man who was to have the most profound influence over him in his early years was Carl Zelter, the director of Singakademie. Today Donald Macleod looks at Mendelssohn's early training.

"Herr, Der Du Bist Der Gott" (St. Paul, Part 1)
Choruses of the Chapelle Royale and Collegium Vocale
Champs-Élysées Orchestra
Philippe Herreweghe (director)

String Symphony no.12 (1st movement: Fuga. Grave-Allegro)
London Festival Orchestra
Ross Pople (conductor)

Hexenlied, Op.8 no. 8
Margaret Price (soprano)
Graham Johnson (piano)

Rondo Brillant, Op.29
Stephen Hough (piano)

Meerestille und glückliche Fahrt, Op.27
London Symphony Orchestra
Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Gott, sei mir gnädig nach deiner Güte
"Ich Danke Dir, Herr, Mein Gott" (St. Paul, Part 1)
Matthias Goerne (bass)
Choruses of the Chapelle Royale and Collegium Vocale
Champs-Élysées Orchestra
Philippe Herreweghe (director).

1 hour

Music Played

  • Felix Mendelssohn

    St Paul - Oratorio Op.36 - Pt 1, no.1; Herr, der du bist der Gott [chorus]

    Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe. Orchestra: Champs-Elysees Orchestra. Choir: Chapelle Royale Chorus. Choir: Collegium Vocale Gent.
    • Harmonia Mundi: HMC 901584.85.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 2.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    St Paul - oratorio Op.36 - Herr Der Du Bist Der Gott

    Choir: Chapelle Royale Chorus. Choir: Collegium Vocale Gent. Orchestra: Champs-Elysees Orchestra. Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe.
    • Harmonia Mundi: HMC 901584.85.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 2.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Symphony no. 12 in G minor for string orchestra - Fuga. Grave-Alle

    Orchestra: London Festival Orchestra. Conductor: Ross Pople.
    • HYPERION : CDS-44081/3.
    • HYPERION.
    • 7.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    12 Songs Op.8 - Hexenlied

    Performer: Graham Johnson. Singer: Margaret Price.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Rondo brillant in E flat major Op.29 for piano and orchestra

    Performer: Stephen Hough. Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Lawrence Foster.
    • HYPERION : CDA 66969-.
    • HYPERION.
    • 5.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Meeresstille Und Gluckliche Fahrt - Overture Op.27

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Claudio Abbado.
    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON : dg-423 104 2.
    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON.
    • 3.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    St Paul - oratorio Op.36 - Part 1 (extract)

    Singer: Matthias Gorne. Choir: Chapelle Royale Chorus. Choir: Collegium Vocale Gent. Orchestra: Champs-Elysees Orchestra. Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe.
    • Harmonia Mundi: HMC 901584.85.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 18.

Broadcasts

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.