Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/267

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MENDELSSOHN.
255
 

cut very low at the neck, and with full trowsers buttoned over it. Into the slanting pockets of these he liked to thrust his hands, rocking his curly head (he had long brown curls) from side to side, and shifting restlessly from one foot to the other.'

With 1820, that is to say with his 12th year, Felix seems to have begun systematically to compose; at least with that year begins the invaluable series of 44 volumes, in which Mendelssohn's methodical habits have preserved a collection of autographs or copies of a great part of his works, published and unpublished, down to the time of his death, the majority carefully inscribed with both date and place—which are now deposited in the Imperial Library at Berlin.

To the year 1820 are attributable between 50 and 60 movements, including amongst them a Trio for P.F. and strings (3 movements); a Sonata for P.F. and Violin in F (3 do.); 2 movements for the same in D minor; 2 full Sonatas for P.F. solo; the beginning of a 3rd in G minor, finished the next year, and published in 1868 (as op. 105); 6 pieces for P.F. solo; 3 do. for do., 4 hands; 4 pieces for Organ; 3 songs for single voice; 2 do. for 4 men's voices; a Cantata, 'In rührend feierlichen Tönen'; and a Lustspiel, or little comedy, for Voices and P.F. in 3 scenes, beginning 'Ich F. Mendelssohn.' [App. p.716 "Ich J. Mendelssohn"] The earliest date is that to the cantata—Jan. 13, 1820. The extraordinary neatness and finish, which characterise Mendelssohn's MSS. to the end, are observable in the earliest of these childish productions, and the mysterious letters L. v. g. G. or H. d. m., so familiar to those who know his latest scores, are usually at the head of each.

Among the pieces for 1821 are 5 sinfonies for string quartet, each in 3 movements; 9 fugues for ditto; the completion of the G minor P.F. Sonata (op. 105); motets for 4 voices; a couple of songs; a couple of études for P.F. solo; 2 one-act operas, 'Soldatenliebschaft' and 'Die beiden [1]Pädagogen'; and half a third, 'Die wandernden Comödianten.' This was the year of his acquaintance with Weber, then in Berlin for the production of Freischütz, and of an enthusiasm on the part of the boy for that romantic composer which he never [2]lost. This too was the year of his first visit to Goethe. Zelter took his pupil to Weimar in November, and they passed sixteen days under the old poet's roof.[3]

The same incessant and varied production marks 1822 and 1823. In the summer of 1822 the whole family made a tour in Switzerland. Starting on July 6, they went by Cassel (for Spohr), Frankfort, Darmstadt, Schaffhausen, Amsteg, Interlaken, Vevey, and Chamounix; a large and merry party of ten, besides servants. The tour was taken at great leisure, and on the return two important halts were made—first at Frankfort, to make the acquaintance of Schelble, the conductor of the famous Cäcilien-Verein, whom Felix astonished by extemporising on Bach's motets; and at Weimar, for a second visit to Goethe.[4]

At Secheron, near Geneva, a songs were written (Sept. 18); and the Pianoforte Quartet in C minor, afterwards published as op. 1, was begun to be put on paper (the autograph being marked 'Begun at Secheron 20 Sept., 1822'), and was finished after the return home. Besides this, the records of these two years (1822 and 23) contain 6 more symphonies, Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; 5 detached pieces for strings; 5 concertos for solo instruments with quartet accompaniment, viz. 1 for Violin solo, 1 for P.F. solo, 1 for P.F. and Violin, and 2 for two P.F.s; a quartets for P.F. and strings, viz. in C minor (op. 1) and in F minor (op. 2); sonatas for P.F. and Violin (op. 4) and for P.F. and Viola (MS.); a fantasia and 3 other pieces for the Organ; a fugue and fantasia for P.F.; a Kyrie for two choirs; a psalm, 3 songs, a piece for contralto solo and strings in 3 movements to Italian text (No. 167), 2 songs for men's voices, and the completion of the fourth opera, 'Die beiden Neffen,' or 'Der Onkel aus Boston,' which was a full-grown piece in three acts. The symphonies show a similar advance. They are in four movements instead of three, as before, and the length of the movements increases. No. 8, in D, written Nov. 6–Nov. 27, after the return from Switzerland, has an Adagio e grave before the opening Allegro. The slow movement is for 3 violas and bass, and the finale has a prominent part for the cello. This symphony must have pleased the composer or some of his audience in whose judgment he believed, since within a month he began to rescore it for full orchestra. He wrote a new trio for the minuet, and in this form it became Symphony No. 9. The three last of the six are for quintet, and the scherzos of Nos. 10 and 12 are founded on Swiss tunes, in No. 12 with the addition of triangles, cymbals, and drums. The independent cello part is conspicuous throughout. This advance in his music is in keeping with the change going on in Felix himself. He was now nearly 15, was growing fast,[5] his features and his expression were altering and maturing, his hair was cut short,[6] and he was put into jackets and trowsers. His extemporising—which he had begun to practise early in 1821[7]—was already remarkable,[8] and there was a dash of audacity in it hardly characteristic of the mature man. Thus Goethe wished to hear a certain fugue of Bach's, and as Felix could not remember it all, he developed it himself at great length, which he would hardly have done later[9].

In 1822 he made a second appearance in public of a more serious nature than before, viz. on March 31, at a concert of Aloys Schmitt's, in which he played with Schmitt a duet of Dussek's for 2 pianos; and on Dec. 5 he again appeared at a concert of Anna Milder's, in a

  1. Words by Dr. Caspar (Dev. p. 5)
  2. H. 32.
  3. See details in 'Goethe and Mendelssohn.' See also Rellstab, 'aus meinem Leben,' ii. 135; and Lobe, in 'Once a Week' for 1807.
  4. G. & M. 33.
  5. Zelter, in G. & M. 35.
  6. F.M. i. 130; Dev. 10.
  7. F.M. 100.
  8. Dev. 11.
  9. F.M. i. 129.