Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/282

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270
MENDELSSOHN.
 

two [1]years. Of these the Italian Symphony was to be one, and the MS. score of the work accordingly bears the date of March 13, 1833. On April 27 he wrote to the Society offering them the symphony with 'two new overtures, finished since last year' (doubtless the Meeresstille [App. p.716 "Fingal's Cave"] and the Trumpet Overture), the extra one being intended ' as a sign of his gratitude for the pleasure and honour they had again conferred upon him.' Graceful and apparently spontaneous as it is, the symphony had not been an easy task. Mendelssohn was not exempt from the lot of most artists who attempt a great poem or a great composition; on the contrary, 'the bitterest moments he ever endured or could have imagined,' were those which he experienced during the autumn when the work was in progress, and up to the last he had his doubts and misgivings as to the result. Now, however, when it was finished, he found that it 'pleased him and showed [2]progress'—a very modest expression for a work so full of original thought, masterly expression, consummate execution, and sunny beauty, as the Italian Symphony, and moreover such a prodigious [3]advance on his last work of the same kind!

On Feb. 6 [App. p.716 "Feb. 8"], 1833, a son was born to the Moscheleses, and one of the first letters written was to Mendelssohn, asking him to be godfather to the child. He sent a capital letter in reply, with an elaborate [4]sketch, and he transmitted later a cradle song—published as Op. 47, No. 6—for his godchild, Felix Moscheles. Early in April he left Berlin for Düsseldorf, to arrange for conducting the Lower Rhine Festival at the end of May. As soon as the arrangements were completed, he went on to London for the christening of his godchild, and also to conduct the Philharmonic Concert of May 13, when his Italian Symphony was performed for the first time, and he himself played Mozart's D minor Concerto. This was his third visit. He was there by April 26—again at his old lodgings in Great Portland Street—and on May 1 he played at Moscheles's annual concert a brilliant set of 4-hand variations on the Gipsy March in Preciosa, which the two had composed [5]together. He left shortly after the 13th and returned to Düsseldorf, in ample time for the rehearsal of the Festival, which began on Whit Sunday, May 26, and was an immense success. Israel in [6]Egypt was the pièce de resistance, and among the other works were Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony and Overture to Leonora, and his own Trumpet Overture. Abraham Mendelssohn had come from Berlin for the Festival, and an excellent account of it will be found in his letters, printed by [7]Hensel, admirable letters, full of point and wisdom, and showing better than anything else could the deep affection and perfect understanding which existed between father and son. The brilliant success of the Festival and the personal fascination of Mendelssohn led to an offer from the authorities of Düsseldorf that he should undertake the charge of the entire musical arrangements of the town, embracing the direction of the church music and of two associations, for three years, from Oct. 1, 1833, at a yearly salary of 600 [8]thalers (£90). He had been much attracted by the active artistic life of the place when he visited Immermann at the close of his Italian journey, and there appears to have been no hesitation in his acceptance of the offer. This important agreement concluded, Felix returned to London for the fourth time, taking his father with him. They arrived about the 5th, and went into the lodgings in Great Portland Street. It is the father's first visit, and his letters are full of little hits at the fog, the absence of the sun, the Sundays, and other English peculiarities, and at his son's enthusiasm for it all. As far as the elder Mendelssohn was concerned, the first month was perfectly successful, but in the course of July he was laid up with some complaint in [App. p.716 "accident to"] his shin, which confined him to his room for three weeks, and although it gave him an excellent idea of English hospitality, it naturally threw a damp over the latter part of the visit. His blindness, too, seems to [9]have begun to show itself.

His son however experienced no such drawbacks. To his father he was everything. 'I cannot express,' says the grateful old man, 'what he has been to me, what a treasure of love, patience, endurance, thoughtfulness, and tender care he has lavished on me; and much as I owe him indirectly for a thousand kindnesses and attentions from others, I owe him far more for what he has done for me [10]himself.' No letters by Felix of this date have been printed, but enough information can be picked up to show that he fully enjoyed himself. His Trumpet Overture was played at the Philharmonic on June 10. He played the organ at St. Paul's (June 23), Klingemann and other friends at the bellows, and the church empty—Introduction and fugue; extempore; Attwood's Coronation Anthem, 4 hands, with Attwood; and three [11]pieces of Bach's. He also evidently played a great deal in society, and his father's account of a mad evening with Malibran will stand as a type of many [12]such. The Moscheleses, Attwoods, Horsleys, and Alexanders are among the most prominent English names in the diaries and [13]letters. Besides Malibran, Schröder-Devrient, Herz, and Hummel were among the foreign artists in London. On [14]Aug. 4 the two left for Berlin, Abraham having announced that he was bringing home 'a young painter named Alphonse Lovie,' who, of course,

  1. See the Resolution and his answer in Hogarth, 59, 60.
  2. Letter to Bauer, April 6, 1833.
  3. It has been said that the leap from Mendelssohn's C minor to his A major Symphony is as great as that from Beethoven's No. 2 to the Eroica; and relatively this is probably not exaggerated.
  4. Which will be found in Moscheles's Life, i. 283.
  5. Mos. i. 290.
  6. It had been performed by the Singakademie of Berlin, Dec. 8, 1831, but probably with re-instrumentation. It was now done as Handel wrote it.
  7. F.M. i. 347–364.
  8. I cannot discover his exact status or title at D{{subst:u:}}sseldorf. In his own sketch of his life (see next page) he styles himself Music-director of the Association for the Promotion of Music in D{{subst:u:}}sseldorf.
  9. F.M. i. 397; ii. 62. Compare ii. 20.
  10. F.M. i. 384.
  11. Ibid. 272.
  12. Ibid. 377.
  13. Mos. i. 298; Abraham M. in F.M. i. 368, 380, 382, etc.
  14. Mos. i. 299.