Tuesday, February 3, 2009

200th Anniversary of FELIX MENDELSSOHN'S BIRTH

I like to celebrate people who have made an extraordinary contribution.

This is the birthday of Felix Mendelssohn. This is the 200th Anniversary of his birth. He was born Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn on February 3, 1809 to a notable and wealthy Jewish family that converted to Protestantism. He was the grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and son of Abraham who upon conversion to Christianity changed his surname to Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, which was seldom used. He died November 4, 1847.
You know Felix Mendelssohn as the German composer, pianist and conductor of the early Romantic period. He is among the most popular composers of that period although he wrote music that included both the styles of romanticism and classicalism. His works include concerti, oratorios, symphonies, piano and chamber music. He began to compose at age 11; at 16 he wrote his first masterpiece, the String Octet in E Flat Major (1825), followed by the Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream (1826) at age seventeen. He wrote the first of a series of elegant piano works, Songs Without Words, in 1830. His Reformation (1832) and Italian (1833) symphonies date from this period. In his last decade he produced great works such as the Scottish Symphony (1842), the violin concerto* (1844), and the oratorio Elijah (1846).

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel was his beloved sister (1805–47), and she was considered his equal in musical talent but she was discouraged from composing until her marriage to the painter Wilhelm Hensel (1794–1861); she eventually wrote more than 500 works. Her death was a severe shock to Mendelssohn. Years of overwork simultaneously caught up with him, and he died six months after her.

*Listen and watch renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman at the age of 13 years playing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto - 2 min clip
Then look and listen to Perlman as an adult playing this same piece. - 5 min 45 sec

What a treasure people like this are. This is a happy day.

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