Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/299

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MENDELSSOHN.
287
 

spite of strenuous efforts he had utterly failed to see any way of carrying out the commission to his own [1]satisfaction. The Œdipus Coloneus, the Œdipus Rex, and the Athalie, were however finished, and at His Majesty's disposal. The editing of Israel in Egypt had given him considerable trouble, owing apparently to the wish of the council of the Handel Society to print Mendelssohn's marks of expression as if they were Handel's, and also to the incorrect way in which the engraving was executed. These [2]letters are worth looking at, as evidence how strictly accurate and conscientious he was in these matters, and also how gratuitously his precious time was often taken up.

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Gade had conducted the Gewandhaus Concerts for 1844–5; but having got rid of the necessity of residing in Berlin, and having enjoyed the long rest which he had proposed, it was natural that Mendelssohn should return to his beloved Leipzig. But in addition to this he had received an intimation from Von Falkenstein as early as June 5, 1845, that the King of Saxony wished him to return to his former position. He accordingly once more took up his residence there early in September (this time at No. 3 Königsstrasse, [3]on the first floor) and his reappearance in the conductor's place at the opening concert in the Gewandhaus on Oct. 5 was the signal for the old applause, and for hearty recognition from the audience and the press. The season was rendered peculiarly brilliant by the presence of Madame Schumann, and of Jenny Lind, who made her first appearance in Leipzig at the subscription concert of Dec. 4. Miss Dolby also made her first appearance Oct. 23, sang frequently, and became a great favourite. Among the more important orchestral items of the season 1845–46 were Schumann's Symphony in B♭, and Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto (David), brought forward together on Oct. 23, 1845.

After the first concert he left for Berlin to produce his Œdipus Coloneus, which was first performed at Potsdam on Nov. 1, and his Athalie at Charlottenburg, both being repeated at Berlin. He returned to Leipzig by [4]Dec. 11, [App. p. 716 "He returned to Leipzig on Dec. 3, bringing Miss Lind with him (Mr. Rockstro's information)"] and remained there till the close of the season, taking an active part in all that went on, including Miss Lind's farewell concert on April 12, 1846—the last occasion of his playing in public in Leipzig. At the end of 1845 a formal offer was made to Moscheles, at that time the fashionable pianoforte teacher in London, to settle in Leipzig as Professor of the Pianoforte in the Conservatorium. He took time to consider so important an offer, and on Jan. 25, 1846, with a sacrifice of income and position which does his artistic feeling the highest honour, decided in its favour. Mendelssohn's connection with the school was no sinecure. He [5]had at this time two classes—Pianoforte and Composition. The former numbered about half-a-dozen pupils, and had two lessons a week of 2 hours each. The lessons were given collectively, and among the works studied during the term were Hummel's Septuor; 3 of Beethoven's Sonatas; Preludes and Fugues of Bach; Weber's Concertstück and Sonata in C; Chopin's Studies. The Composition class had one lesson a week of the same length. The pupils wrote compositions of all kinds, which he looked over and heard and criticised in their presence. He would sometimes play a whole movement on the same subjects, to show how they might have been better developed. Occasionally he would make them modulate from one key to another at the piano, or extemporise on given themes, and then would himself treat the same themes. He was often extremely irritable:—'Toller Kerl, so spielen die Katzen!' or (in English, to an English pupil) 'Very ungentlemanlike modulations!' etc. But he was always perfectly natural. A favourite exercise of his was to write a theme on the black-board, and then make each pupil add a counterpoint; the task of course increasing in difficulty with each addition. On one occasion the last of the pupils found it impossible to add a single note, and after long consideration shook his head and gave in. 'You can't tell where to place the next note?' said Mendelssohn. 'No.' 'I am glad of that,' was the reply, 'for neither

  1. L. March 12. 1845.
  2. There are seven of them, and they are given in the Appendix to G. & M., ed. 2, p. 169.
  3. The house has since been renumbered, and is now 21. A bronze tablet on the front states that he died there.
  4. Letter to Moore; P. 238.
  5. This Information I owe to Mr. Otto Goldschmidt and Mr. Rockstro, who belonged to both of his classes.