Artist of the Week
Felix Mendelssohn (2/3/1809-11/4/1847)
Felix Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg, Germany. He began playing the piano at any early age, and gave his first public performance in Berlin when he was just 9 years old. The following year he entered the Singakademie music academy. Here he cultivated his musicianship, which is saying something considering he had already written 5 operas and 11 symphonies by the time he entered the academy.
One of his best known compositions was released in 1826, Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream. In addition to composing almost non-stop, Mendelssohn also learned conducting during his time at the academy. His work at conducting paid off. He conducted a performance of St. Matthew’s Passion written by J.S. Bach. As a result of this performance, Mendelssohn is recognized as having brought the larger scale works of Bach to public and scholarly attention. This attention given to Bach continues to this day. In our present time, no academic music program would be complete without the study of Bach’s works.
In 1835 Mendelssohn was given the much coveted position of Conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. In addition to his persistence in composition, Mendelssohn founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music and became its first director. The university is still in operation to this day.
In 1847 his sister, with whom he was very close, passed away suddenly. This was a devastating blow for Felix. He lost his own will to live. His health deteriorated rapidly, and he passed away in November of that year at the age of 38. Although he died at a seemingly young age, he is now recognized as one of the first significant composer of the Romantic Era.
“Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country and earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.” – Felix Mendelssohn
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