Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/281

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MENDELSSOHN.
269
 

which must have thrown a deep shadow over everything, and no doubt after so much gaiety there was a reaction, and his old dislike to the French character—traces of which are not wanting in a letter to Immermann dated Jan. 11—returned. In addition to this his health had not latterly been good, and in March he had an attack of [1]cholera. Though he alludes to it in joke, he probably felt the truth of a remark in the Figaro that 'Paris is the tomb of all [2]reputations.' Brilliantly and cordially as he was received, he left no lasting mark there; his name does not reappear in the programmes of the Conservatoire for 11 years, and it was not till the establishment of the Concerts populaires in 1861 that his music became at all familiar to [3]the Parisians. He himself never again set foot in Paris.

On April 23, 1832, he was once more in his beloved London, and at his old quarters, 103 Great Portland Street. 'That smoky nest,' he exclaims, amid the sunshine of the Naples summer, 'is fated to be now and ever my favourite residence; my heart swells when I think of [4]it.' And here he was back in it again! It was warm, the lilacs were in bloom, his old friends were as cordial as if they had never parted, he was warmly welcomed everywhere, and felt his health return in full measure. His letters of this date are full of a genuine heartfelt satisfaction. He plunged at once into musical life. The Hebrides was played in MS. by the Philharmonic on May 14, and he performed his G minor Concerto, on an Erard piano, at the concerts of May 28 and June 18. He gave a MS. score of his overture to the society, and they presented him with a piece of plate. During his stay in London he wrote his Capriccio brillant in B (op. 22), and played it at a [5]concert of Mori's. On Sunday, June 10, he played the organ [6]at St. Paul's. He also published a four-hand [7]arrangement of the M.N.D. Overture with Cramer, and the 1st Book of Songs without [8]Words, with Novello, and played at many concerts. A more important thing still was the revision of the Hebrides Overture, to which he appears to have put the final touches on June 20 (five weeks after its performance at the Philharmonic), that being the date on the autograph score in possession of the family of Sterndale Bennett, which agrees in all essentials with the printed copy. On May 15 Zelter died, and he received the news of the loss of his old friend at Mr. Attwood's house, Biggin Hill, Norwood. The vision of a possible offer of Zelter's post at the Singakademie crossed his mind, and is discussed with his father; but it was not destined to be fulfilled. Among the friends whom he made during this visit, never to lose till death, were the Horsleys, a family living in the country at Kensington. Mr. W. Horsley was one of our most eminent gleewriters, his daughters were unusually musical, one of the sons is now an R.A., and another was for many years a bright ornament to English music. The circle was not altogether unlike his Berlin home, and in his own [9]words he seldom spent a day without meeting one or other of the family.

In July 1832 he returned to Berlin, to find the charm of the summer life in the garden as great as before. His darling sister Rebecka had been married to Professor Dirichlet in May. Another change was that the Devrients had migrated to another place, and Hensel's studios now occupied all the spare space in the garden-house. Immermann's promised libretto was waiting for him on his return, but from the terms in which he asks for Devrient's opinion on it, it is evident that it disappointed him, and we hear no more of the [10]subject. St. Paul was beginning to occupy his mind (of which more anon), and he had not long been back when the election of the conductor for the Singakademie in Zelter's place came on the tapis. The details may be read [11]elsewhere; it is enough to say here that chiefly through the extra zeal and want of tact of his friend Devrient, though with the best intentions, Mendelssohn, for no fault of his own, was dragged before the public as an opponent of Rungenhagen; and at length, on Jan. 22, 1833, was defeated by 60 votes out of 236. The defeat was aggravated by a sad want of judgment on the part of the family, who not only were annoyed, but showed their annoyance by withdrawing from the Akademie, and thus making an open hostility. Felix himself said little, but he felt it deeply. He [12]describes it as a time of uncertainty, anxiety, and suspense, which was as bad as a serious illness; and no doubt it widened the breach in his liking for Berlin, which had been begun by the rejection of Camacho. He doubtless found some consolation in a Grand Piano which was forwarded to him in August by Mr. Pierre Erard of London.

His musical activity was at all events not impaired. Besides occupying himself with the Sunday music at home, Felix, during this winter, gave three public concerts at the room of the [13]Singakademie in Nov. and Dec. 1832, and Jan. 1833, at which he brought forward his Walpurgisnight, his Reformation Symphony, his Overtures to the Midsummer Night's Dream, Meeresstille, and Hebrides, his G minor Concerto and his Capriccio in B minor; besides playing two sonatas and the G major Concerto of Beethoven, and a Concerto of Bach in D minor—all, be it remembered, novelties at that time even to many experienced musicians. In addition to this he was working seriously at the Italian Symphony. The Philharmonic Society of London had passed a resolution on Nov. 5, 1832, asking him to compose 'a symphony, an overture, and a vocal piece,' and offering him a hundred guineas for the exclusive right of performance during

  1. H. 33. Letter to B{{subst:a:}}rmann, in Letters of Diet. Musicians, April 16.
  2. F{{subst:e'}}tis is inaccurate in citing this as Mendelssohn's own expression. See Letter, March 31, 1832.
  3. This want of sympathy, combined with an astonishing amount of ignorance, is amusingly displayed in the following description from the catalogue of a well-known French autograph collector:—Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Felix) remarquable intelligence, mais cœur ego{{subst:i:}}ste et froid; qui n'ayant pu gravir d'un pas sur les sommets de l'art, s'est refugi{{subst:e'}} dans la musique de chambre.' Can ignorance and confidence go further?
  4. L. May 23, 1831.
  5. Rietz's List. Also Mos. i. 271.
  6. Mos. i. 272.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Under the name of Original Melodies for the P.F. (Novello).
  9. G. & M. 97.
  10. Dev. 142.
  11. See especially Dev. 145–156.
  12. L. March 4, 1833.
  13. A.M.Z. 1833, 123. The dates are not given.