Composer Profile: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Felix Mendelssohn

Perhaps the greatest of the Romantic composers, Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy never lost the respectable middle-class sensibilities with which he was raised. Not for him the crass showmanship of Liszt, or the drug-induced excesses of Berlioz. In this he was likely the product of his upbringing: his parents were Jewish and his father, Abraham, was a banker and the son of the noted German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. His mother, too, was an educated and cultured woman (she spoke several languages, and could ‘read Homer in the original [Greek]’). The Mendelssohn household was a place filled with music and intellectual life, but also with a careful avoidance of religious commitment. Felix was not circumcised, and received the name Jakob only when he was baptised as a reformed Protestant at the age of seven. His parents had begun using the German surname Bartholdy, adopted from Lea Mendelssohn’s brother, in 1812 and were baptised in 1822. Continue reading “Composer Profile: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)”