SATURDAY, November 9, 2019
Mendelssohn was also visual artist…
Spotlight is not about visual art, but this is of interest to me because it shows the depth of his genius it shows how versatile geniuses are:
Felix was in all ways a fascinating person.
There have been very few human beings with the raw brain power of Mozart, but Felix is one.
- As I mentioned, he was also a visual artist.
- He was also known to be charming and polite as well as astonishingly intelligent, but personal friends reported that he was far more moody – and introverted – than his public persona indicated.
- Due to a family genetic weakness he was dead by age 38 from massive strokes. His older sister died shortly before that from the same malady. He died at the end of 1847. His wife died in 1853
- He was born into a prominent Jewish family, but he was brought up without religion until the age of seven, when he was baptised as a Reformed Christian (Lutheran.) His parents were baptized even later. We don’t know how much of this was religious belief vs. a practical decision to stop anti-Semitism.
- Felix was a musical prodigy, but his parents were cautious and protected him from being exploited.
- His older sister, Fanny, may have been equally talented and was brilliant, but she was discouraged from becoming a professional musician because – get this – she was a girl. To be female in the early 1800s was to be discouraged from anything other than making babies.
- He revived interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, notably with his performance of the St Matthew Passion in 1829.He was only 20 at the time.
- He was linked to Jenny Lind and may have had a love affair with her.
- He and his wife had five children in seven years, between 1838 and 1845. Felix was dead in 1848, and is wife died in 1853. So the oldest son was an orphan by around age 13. The youngest daughter lost her father at around age 2 and her mother just a few years later. Living in the 1800s was not a pleasant experience for most people.
Mendelssohn was essentially conservative in musical style, and later his reputation as a great composer suffered in comparison to his more experimental contemporaries. That opinion has been completely reversed over time. Today the whole world loves his music, so as usual critics were wrong. They always are wrong.
This is also know as the Hebrides Overture…