Felix Mendelssohn

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Mendelssohn, Felix

(Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn) (mĕn`dəlsən, Ger. yä`kôp lo͝ot`vĭkh fā`lĭks mĕn`dəls-zōn'), 1809–47, German composer; grandson of the Jewish philosopher Moses MendelssohnMendelssohn, Moses
, 1729–86, German-Jewish philosopher; grandfather of Felix Mendelssohn. He was a leader in the movement for cultural assimilation. In 1743 he went to Berlin, where he studied and worked, becoming (1750) a partner in a silk merchant's firm.
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. Mendelssohn was one of the major figures in 19th-century European music. His father, Abraham, upon conversion to Christianity, changed his surname to Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, a seldom-used form. A prodigy, reared in a highly cultured atmosphere, the young Felix, who began composing at age 10, presented his orchestral compositions to illustrious audiences at the family estate. His first mature work, the Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, now a classical concert staple, was composed at 17, and he showed similar precocity at the piano.

In 1829, he conducted the St. Matthew Passion, stimulating a revival of interest in the music of J. S. BachBach, Johann Sebastian
, 1685–1750, German composer and organist, b. Eisenach; one of the greatest and most influential composers of the Western world. He brought polyphonic baroque music to its culmination, creating masterful and vigorous works in almost every musical
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. He was musical director (1833–35) at Düsseldorf, became (1835) conductor of the Gewandhaus concerts, Leipzig, and helped found (1842–43) the Leipzig Conservatory. He was appointed (1841) director of the music section of the Academy of Arts, Berlin, and often conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra. His music is characterized by emotional restraint, refinement, sensitivity, and a fastidious adherence to classical forms. Of his five symphonies, the Scottish (1842), Italian (1833), and Reformation (1832) are best known. Frequently performed are his Violin Concerto in E Minor (1845); The Hebrides Overture, or Fingal's Cave (1832); and two oratorios, St. Paul (1836) and Elijah (1846). Outstanding piano works include the Variations sérieuses (1841) and eight sets of Songs without Words (1832–45). He also composed chamber music, songs, choral music, and six organ sonatas.


See his letters (ed. by G. Selden-Goth, 1945); biographies by G. R. Marek (1972), W. Blunt (1974), P. Mercer-Taylor (2000), and R. L. Todd (2003); H. Kupferberg, The Mendelssohns (1972).

His elder sister, Fanny Cäcilie Mendelssohn Hensel, 1805–47, was also a musical prodigy and a gifted composer and pianist. Her parents allowed her lessons, but forbade a musical career as indecent for a woman. She nonetheless led a musical salon and composed some 500 works, many of them for piano. Many of her compositions were rediscovered in the late 20th and early 21st cent.


See M. J. Citron, ed., The Letters of Fanny Hensel to Felix Mendelssohn (1987); biographies by F. Tillard (2003) and R. L. Todd.

References in periodicals archive ?
What Wollny does offer here is information about the manuscript materials in conjunction with printed editions (which are not listed in RISM A/II) and in the context of a larger family's engagement with the musical past that would, through Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, wield great influence.
E; see Faye Ferguson, "Unknown Correspondence from Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy to his Leipzig Publisher Friedrich Kistner," in Festschrift Wolfgang Rehm zum 60.
Dika Newlin [New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1963; reprint, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978], 203; Heinz-Klaus Metzger, "Noch einmal: Die erste Walpurgisnacht: Versuch einer anderen Allegorese," in Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, ed.
12) In keeping with the nineteenth century's burgeoning enthusiasm for viewing the lives and works of celebrities through the lens of their correspondence, the composer's younger brother, Paul (1812-1874), in 1861 published a selection of Felix's correspondence from his "grand tour" in a collection titled Reisebriefe von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy aus den Jahren 1830 bis 1832.
Working with Hugo von Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1894-1975, great-grandson of the composer), Max F.
49) The Bodleian's collection of Mendelssohniana came into being primarily because of the friendship between Paul Victor Mendelssohn Benecke (1868-1944), grandson of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and Margaret Deneke (1882-1969), honorary fellow and choirmaster of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.
Most obvious among these are the honeymoon diary compiled by Felix and Cecile Mendelssohn Bartholdy in 1837, (64) and the diaries Mendelssohn kept during his grand tour.
The annotated bibliography of 938 items is organized into six chapters: "Life-and-Works Studies," "Memoirs, Recollections, and Editions of Letters," "Sociological and Cultural Studies," "Documentary Studies," "Studies of Individual Works and Repertoires," and "General Studies of the Music of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.
The title of item 868, "Die Entwicklung des Romantisehen in der Instrumentalmusik Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys," is no more helpful to the reader than that of item 867, "Formal Novelty and Tradition in the Early Romantic Piano Concerto"; yet only the second entry is followed by a lengthy annotation.
Christian Martin Schmidt, who is perhaps best known for his extensive scholarship on Johannes Brahms and Arnold Schoenberg, is general editor of the Leipziger Ausgabe der Werke uon Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Leipzig: Deutscher Verlag fur Musik, 1960-77; Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Hartel 1997-), and his authority at the helm of that direly needed complete critical edition is confirmed by the vision he exerted in organizing anti publishing these studies.
Diess herrliche, imponirende Instrument": Die Orgel im Zeitalter Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys.
6070; with several subsequent reissues); the Deutscher Verlag fur Musik published another violin and piano arrangement of this work (with both versions of the first and second movements) edited by Renate Unger, with piano reduction by Harald Unger, in 1972 (DVfM 6406; 2d version reprinted by Masters Music Publications [M 2123] in 1993), followed by her critically edited full score in 1973 as series 2, volume 6, in the Leipziger Ausgabe der Werke Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys (the earlier title of the complete Mendelssohn edition as published in the German Democratic Republic, commonly shortened to Leipziger Mendelssohn-Ausgabe), and a subsequent second edition in 1985.