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Felix Mendelssohn also known as Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy - View Sheet Music for this Artist
  • a.k.a.: Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn- Bartholdy
  • German
  • 3rd February 1809 - 4th November 1847
  • You might know him for: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Wedding March traditionally played at every wedding) and the Christian hymn Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Felix Mendelssohn was never stricken with the hardships of his fellow composers. He was rich, talented, adored, and well liked by all. French composer Hector Berlioz likened him to ‘Bach’s prophet’. He was also a deeply religious man, and though his grandfather was the distinguished Jewish scholar, Moses Mendelssohn, Felix’s father converted the family to Protestant Christianity at a time when Judaism was under heavy scrutiny. Felix’s father replaced the family name with ‘Bartholdy’ (Felix’s mother’s maiden name) in order to avoid any consequences of having a Jewish name. Felix, however, would not comply with his father’s wishes, and merely added it to his Jewish last name, which we are familiar with today. Felix did, however, abandon his Jewish heritage in later years upon marrying a Protestant.

Mendelssohn, who was taught piano by his mother, soon outgrew his mother’s talents and was sent to Paris by his father to study music. It was here that he achieved his first taste of musical success at the age of seventeen, with the overture to William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Opus 21 (1826). And although nothing composed by Mendelssohn would ever trump this success, he still holds a very coveted place in music history. By 1829, Mendelssohn was sent to London, a place he adored for the rest of his life. Travels took him through parts of Western Europe until he fell in love with Cécile Jeanrenaud, the daughter of a clergyman. They were married in 1837, and had 5 children.

Mendelssohn could not make up his mind about finding a place to live. He was dissatisfied with every place he went; he despised Berlin, although made many attempts to change his own mind. Finally, after many moves within Germany, he settled in Leipzig, and was the brainchild behind the construction of the Leipzig Conservatorium. At the time of this success, Mendelssohn also saw his choral work Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (1840) receive wide acclaim. It had been written for printer Johannes Gutenberg, and was originally titled “Festgesang” (Festival Song).

Mendelssohn was the “everyman”. His charisma and creative energy influenced the way he made his music, and affected the way it was presented to the world’s discerning audiences. The curtain closed on Mendelssohn’s career when he died at the age of 38 of complications from frequent strokes and stress-induced heart ailments.

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