Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Jakob Ludwig Felix

18

Address directorium Arts Music Composition Composers M

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847) was grandson of Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. Born in Hamburg, brought up in Berlin, he was a piano prodigy in his youth. Both he and his sister, Fannny, composed from an early age. Fanny was discouraged by her father and brother because she was a woman (only the late Twentieth Century 20 produced the first recordings of most of her compositions); Felix was encouraged, and produced sonatas, songs, cantatas, organ works, and even a symphony by the time he was 16 years old. When Felix was 17, he and Fanny read Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream together, and he was so enchanted with the work that he wrote a long piece about it; this became the "Overture" to the incidental music for the play, written 17 years later in 1843. Felix first wrote the "Overture" for 2 pianos, for Fanny and himself to play, and it is considered his first real masterpiece. In 1843, when Mendelssohn wrote the rest of the incidental music to be played along with the performance of Shakespeare's play, he orchestrated the "Overture" along with the other pieces. He married the daughter of a Huguenot pastor and, although he formally and publicly renouncing his Judaism, added the hyphenated Bartholdy to their names to indicate his conversion to Protestantism. This may explain why Mendelssohn eventually wrote Symphony No. 5, "The Reformation", which includes as the main theme in the 3rd movement the famous chorale "Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress)".

Other languages: German, Japanese.

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