Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/307

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MENDELSSOHN.
295
 

the face. Madame Goldschmidt with great kindness allowed the portrait to be photographed, and it was the desire of the writer to give a wood engraving of it; but after two attempts to obtain satisfactory representations, he has been reluctantly compelled to abandon the intention.

Other portraits worth notice are (1) a pencil sketch taken in 1820, in possession of Mrs. Victor Benecke, lithographed in 'Goethe and Mendelssohn.' (2) A half-length taken by Begas in 1821, in the possession of the Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy family at Berlin. This is very poorly engraved, both as to resemblance and execution, in 'Goethe and Mendelssohn.' The original is probably much idealised, but it is a striking picture. (3) A three-quarter-length, in a cloak, painted by Hildebrand, and engraved as the frontispiece to Elijah; in possession of Herr Killmann of Bonn. (4) A whole length, sitting, and looking to the side, taken by Hensel in 1844, and now in the possession of the Paul M.-B. family. This, though clever as a picture, can hardly convey the man. The hand is perhaps the most remarkable thing in it, and must be a portrait. (5) A profile taken after death by Hensel, and now in possession of Mrs. V. Benecke. This, which is said by many to be the best representation of him, is fairly engraved as the frontispiece to Lady Wallace's translation of the letters.

A portrait of him in crayons was taken at Weimar for [1]Goethe, which he describes as 'very like, but rather sulky'; another was painted at Rome by [2]Horace Vernet, and another [3]by a painter named Schramm. [App. p.717 "Vernet's was painted in return for an extempore fantasia on 'Don Juan.' Vernet sent it to the Mendelssohns at Berlin. (See Rebecka's letter in Eckardt's 'David,' p. 39.)"] But none of these have been [4]traced by the writer. The sketch by his brother-in-law, taken in 1840, and given as frontispiece to vol. 2 of the 'Familie Mendelssohn,' must surely be too young-looking for that date. Miniatures of the four children were taken in Paris in 1816, and are now in the hands of the Paul M.-B. family.

The bust by Rietschel (engraved as frontispiece to Devrient) and the profiles by Knauer and Kietz are all said to be good.

Not less remarkable than his face was his way and manner. It is described by those who knew him as peculiarly winning and engaging; to those whom he loved, coaxing. The slight lisp or drawl which remained with him to the end made the endearing words and pet expressions, which he was fond of applying to his own immediate circle, all the more affectionate. But outside this immediate circle also he was very fascinating, and it is probable that, devotedly as he was loved at home, few men had fewer enemies abroad. The strong admiration expressed towards him by men of such very different natures as [5]Schumann and [6]Berlioz, both of whom knew him well, shows what a depth of solid goodness there was in his attractiveness. 'His gentleness and softness,' says one of his English friends, 'had none of the bad side so often found with those qualities; nothing effeminate or morbid. There was a great deal of manliness packed into his little body,' as all readers of the early part of this sketch must be aware. Indeed he had a great capacity for being angry. Anything like meanness or deceit, or unworthy conduct of any kind, roused his wrath at once. 'He had a way,' says a very old friend, 'of suddenly firing up on such occasions, and turning on his heel, in a style which was quite unmistakeable,' and astonishing to those who only knew his smoother side. Towards thoughtlessness, negligence, or obstinate stupidity he was very intolerant, and under such provocation said things the sting of which must have remained for long after, and which he himself deeply [7]regretted. But these were rare instances, and as a rule his personal fascination secured him friends and kept them firm to him. And to those to whom he was really attached—outside his own family, of which we are not speaking—there could hardly be a better friend. The published letters to General von Webern, to Verkenius, Klingemann, Schubring, Hiller, Moscheles, are charged with an amount of real affection rarely met with, but which never leads him to sink his own individual opinion on any point which he thought material, as may be seen in many cases. Talent and perseverance he was always ready to encourage, and the cases of Taubert, Eckert, Gade, Joachim, Rietz, Naumann, Sterndale Bennett, Hiller, and the anonymous student whose cause he pleads so [8]earnestly to the king, show how eager he always was to promote the best interests of those whom he believed to be worthy. The present head of the Frankfort Conservatorium owes his advancement in no small degree to the good offices of Mendelssohn. His warm reception of Berlioz, Liszt, and Thalberg, has been already mentioned, but must be again referred to as an instance of the absence of jealousy or rivalry in his nature, and of his simple wish to give everybody fair play.

The relations of Mendelssohn and Schumann were thoroughly good on both sides. There is a remarkable absence of Schumann's name in Mendelssohn's published letters; but this may have arisen from considerations which influenced the editors, and would possibly be reversed if the letters had been fully given, and if others which remain in MS. were printed. The two men were always good friends. They differed much on some matters of music. Mendelssohn had his strong settled principles, which nothing could induce him to give up. He thought that everything should be made as clear as a composer could make it, and that rough or awkward passages were blemishes, which should be modified and made to sound well. On the other hand, Schumann was equally fixed in the necessity of retaining what he had written down as representing his

  1. L. May 25. 1830.
  2. L. Jan. 17 and March 15, 1831.
  3. Possibly taken in 1840; since in Ernst Mendelssohn-Bartholdy's possession is the autograph of three Songs inscribed, 'Dem Maler Schramm zu freundlichem Andenken und mit bestem Dank. F. M. B. Leipzig, d. 4 Nov. 1840.'
  4. I have to thank M. Edouard Detallle, the painter, for his efforts to discover the picture by Vernet.
  5. Wassielewsky, 157.
  6. 'Correspondance' (1879), 88; 'Voyage musical,' Letter 4.
  7. He complained bitterly to the Bishop of Limerick in 1847 of his short temper at rehearsals or with his pupils.
  8. Letter. 1844; ii. 325.