Felix Mendelsohn

Felix Mendelssohn

3 February 1809 - 4 November 1847

Works in the repertoire

W. Turner: The Bold Fighter

Biography

 

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, more commonly known as Felix Mendelssohn (sometimes Felix with accent), born 3 February 1809 in Hamburg and died 4 November 1847 in Leipzig, was a German conductor, pianist and composer of the early Romantic period. He was the grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, the son of the banker and philanthropist Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy and the brother of the composer Fanny Mendelssohn.

After early successes in Germany, he travelled throughout Europe and was particularly well received in Great Britain, where, during his ten visits, several of his major works were premiered. A contemporary of Liszt, Wagner and Berlioz, he left a prolific output for his short life of 38 years (symphonies, concerti, oratorios, overtures, incidental music, works for solo piano, works for solo organ and chamber music). His fame rests on some of his greatest masterpieces: the overture and incidental music for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', the 'Hebrides' overture, the 'Italian' and 'Scottish' symphonies, the oratorios 'Paulus' and 'Elias', the Second Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, the String Octet and the Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49

He participated in the rediscovery of Baroque music, especially Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederic Handel. In particular, he was one of the first composers of his time to renew the art of counterpoint, which is why he is sometimes referred to as "the classic of the Romantics". After a long period of relative denigration due to changing musical tastes, the anti-Semitism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the Nazi ban on playing his music, he was rediscovered in the second half of the twentieth century and recognised as a major composer of the Romantic era.

After the first performance of L'Écossaise, Wagner, an anti-Semitic composer who was usually very critical of him, called him a "first-class landscape artist".