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A preview of our collection of performances and documentaries dedicated to one of the Classical era's greatest pioneers, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.

About Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, born Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy on February 3, 1809, in Hamburg, Germany, was a renowned pianist, composer, and conductor. Although born into a Jewish family, his parents converted to Christianity before his birth. At the age of 2, Mendelssohn relocated with his family to Berlin, where his musical journey began. Under the tutelage of Ludwig Berger, he commenced piano lessons and also studied composition with K.F. Zelter. His musical talent shone through at an early age, and by 9, he made his public debut in Berlin, captivating audiences with his exceptional abilities.

In 1819, Mendelssohn joined the Singakademie music academy, igniting a creative burst. Throughout 1820, he composed a wide range of musical works, including operas and symphonies. One of his most recognizable works, the Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream, emerged in 1826. The following year, Mendelssohn presented his opera, The Marriage of the Camacho, the only one of his operas performed publicly during his lifetime.

Alongside his composition endeavors, Mendelssohn delved into conducting. In 1829, he conducted a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, which garnered immense success and opened doors for him to conduct the London Philharmonic Society. Inspired by his visits to England and Scotland, Mendelssohn embarked on composing his Symphony No. 3, known as the Scottish Symphony, as a tribute to his experiences in Edinburgh and the highlands. Mendelssohn's conducting career continued to flourish, leading to his appointment as conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig in 1835.

In his personal life, Mendelssohn met Cécile Jeanrenaud in 1836 and married her the following year. They had five children together. Amidst his personal milestones, Mendelssohn continued to create remarkable compositions. In 1837, he composed his Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, followed by his laborious work on the Violin Concerto in E Minor from 1838 to 1844. Additionally, Mendelssohn founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music and served as its director, solidifying Leipzig's status as a prominent musical hub.

In 1846, Mendelssohn introduced his newly composed oratorio, Elijah, at the Birmingham Festival. However, tragedy struck in 1847 when his beloved sister, Fanny, passed away. Overwhelmed by grief, Mendelssohn's health rapidly declined, ultimately leading to his untimely death on November 4, 1847, at the age of 38. His demise resulted from a ruptured blood vessel, and he had recently completed his String Quartet in F Minor during a visit to Switzerland.

Despite his brief life, Mendelssohn established himself as a significant figure in Romantic composition during the 19th century. His prodigious talent, musical achievements, and influential contributions to the Leipzig music scene secured his enduring legacy as a remarkable composer and conductor.

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