MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY Felix
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (3 February 1809 – 4 November 1847), born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Mendelssohn's compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music and chamber music. His best-known works include his Overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the oratorio Elijah, the overture The Hebrides, his mature Violin Concerto, and his String Octet. The melody for the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is also his. Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions.
Felix Mendelssohn was born on 3 February 1809, in Hamburg, at the time an independent city-state. Mendelssohn's father, the banker Abraham Mendelssohn, was the son of the German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, whose family was prominent in the German Jewish community. Until his baptism at age seven, Mendelssohn was brought up largely without religion. His mother, Lea Salomon, was a member of the Itzig family and a sister of Jakob Salomon Bartholdy. Mendelssohn was the second of four children; his older sister Fanny also displayed exceptional and precocious musical talent. Abraham Mendelssohn renounced the Jewish religion prior to Felix's birth.
The family moved to Berlin in 1811 and Mendelssohn began taking piano lessons from his mother when he was six and Mendelssohn probably made his first public concert appearance at the age of nine,
In 1821 Zelter introduced Mendelssohn to his friend and correspondent Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (then in his seventies), who was greatly impressed by the child, leading to perhaps the earliest confirmed comparison with Mozart in the following conversation between Goethe and Zelter. On Zelter's death in 1832, Mendelssohn had hopes of succeeding him as conductor of the Singakademie; but at a vote in January 1833 he was defeated for the post by Carl Friedrich Rungenhagen.
In Leipzig, Mendelssohn concentrated on developing the town's musical life by working with the orchestra, the opera house, the Thomanerchor (of which Bach had been a director), and the city's other choral and musical institutions.
In 1843 Mendelssohn founded a major music school – the Leipzig Conservatory, now the Hochschule für Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy".
Mendelssohn suffered from poor health in the final years of his life, probably aggravated by nervous problems and overwork. A final tour of England left him exhausted and ill, and the death of his sister, Fanny, on 14 May 1847, caused him further distress. Less than six months later, on 4 November, aged 38, Mendelssohn died in Leipzig after a series of strokes.[
Mendelssohn's two large biblical oratorios, St Paul in 1836 and Elijah in 1846, are greatly influenced by J. S. Bach. The surviving fragments of an unfinished oratorio, Christus, consist of a recitative, a chorus "There Shall a Star Come out of Jacob", and a male voice trio.
Strikingly different is the more overtly Romantic Die erste Walpurgisnacht (The First Walpurgis Night), a setting for chorus and orchestra of a ballad by Goethe describing pagan rituals of the Druids in the Harz mountains in the early days of Christianity. This score has been seen by the scholar Heinz-Klaus Metzger as a "Jewish protest against the domination of Christianity".
A hymn tune Mendelssohn – an adaptation by William Hayman Cummings of a melody from Mendelssohn's cantata Festgesang (Festive Hymn), a secular 1840s composition, which Mendelssohn felt unsuited to sacred music – has become the standard tune for Charles Wesley's popular Christmas hymn "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing".