A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Mendelssohn, Felix
MENDELSSOHN. Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy was born at Hamburg, in the Grosse Michaelisstrasse No. 14 Friday, Feb. 3, 1809. That was at all events a lucky Friday. The family was already well known from Moses Mendelssohn, the grandfather of Felix, 'The Modern Plato,' whose 'Phädon,' a dialogue upon the immortality of the soul, based on the Phædo of Plato, was translated, long before the birth of his illustrious grandson, into almost every European (and at least one Asiatic) language. Moses was the son of Mendel, a poor Jewish schoolmaster of Dessau, on the Elbe, and was born there Sept. 6, 1729. The name Mendelssohn, i.e. 'son of Mendel,' is the ordinary Jewish, oriental, way of forming a name. Moses migrated at 14 years old to Berlin, settled there in 1762, married Fromet, daughter of Abraham Gugenheim, of Hamburg, had 6 children, 3 sons and 3 daughters, published his Phädon at Berlin in 1767, and died there Jan. 4, 1786. He was a small humpbacked man with a keen eager face, bright eyes, and a humorous mouth. The first peculiarity was traceable in his grandchild Fanny, and the bright eyes were one of Felix's most noticeable characteristics. After the death of Moses his widow left Berlin with Joseph, the eldest son, and returned to her native city.
|Mendel of Dessau|
|Moses Mendels-Sohn||Fromet Gugenheim|
|Veit||Dorothea||F. von Schlegel||Joseph||Henriette Meyer||Abraham||Lea Salomon-Bartholody||Henriette ('Tante Jette')||Becha||Nathan||Henriette Itzig|
|Fanny Cäcilie||W. Hensel||Jakob Ludwig Felix||Cecile Jean-renaud||Rebecka||Dirichlet Le jeune||Paul||Albertine Heine|
|Carl Wolfgang Paul||Marie Pauline Hélène||Paul Felix Abraham||Felix August Eduard||Elisabeth Fanny Henrietta (Lilli)|
Abraham, the second son, born Dec. 11, 1776, went to Paris, and in 1803 was cashier to Fould's bank there. In 1804 he resigned this post and went into partnership with his elder brother Joseph; married Dec. 26, 1804, Lea Salomon (born March 15, 1777), of a Jewish family in Berlin, and settled in Hamburg, carrying on his business at the house above mentioned, and having also a house out of town called 'Marten's Mühle.' He remained in Hamburg till 1811, and there were born to him Fanny Cäcilie (Nov. 14, 1805), Jakob Ludwig Felix (Feb. 3, 1809), and Rebecka (April 11, 1811). During the French occupation of Hamburg, life became intolerable, and shortly after Rebecka's birth the whole family escaped in disguise to Berlin, where they started the eminent banking-house, and lived in a large house on the Neue Promenade, in the N.E. quarter of the town, a broad open street or place between the Spree and the Haacksche Markt, with houses on one side only, the other side lying open to a canal with trees, a sufficiently retired spot as late as 1820 for Felix and his friends to play in front of it. There, ten days [App. p.716 "eleven days; the battle lasted from the 16th to the 19th"] after the battle of Leipzig, Abraham's second son and youngest child Paul was born (Oct. 30, 1813). The daughters of Moses Mendelssohn, Dorothea and Henriette, became Catholics. Dorothea married Friedrich von Schlegel, and Henriette was governess to the only daughter of General Sebastiani, afterwards (1847) so unfortunate as the Duchesse de Praslin. The sons remained Jews, but at length Abraham saw that the change was inevitable, and decided to have his children baptised and brought up as Protestant Christians. This decision was taken on the advice and example of his wife's brother, Salomon Bartholdy, to whom also is due the adoption of the name Bartholdy. He himself had taken it, and he urged it on his brother-in-law as a means of distinction from the rest of the family. Salomon was a man of mark. He resided in Rome for some time as Prussian Consul-General; had his villa (Casa Bartholdy) [App. p.716 "on Monte Pincio"] decorated with frescoes, by Veit, Schadow, Cornelius, Overbeck, and Schnorr, collected objects of art, and died there in 1827, leaving his fortune to his sister Lea. He was cast off by his mother for his conversion, and was only reconciled long after at the entreaty of Fanny. At a later date Abraham and Lea were received into the Christian Church at Frankfort, and Lea took the additional names of Felicia Paulina, from her sons.
Abraham Mendelssohn was accustomed to describe his position in life by saying 'formerly I was the son of my father, now I am the father of my son.' But though not so prominent as either, he was a man of strong character, wise judgment, and very remarkable ability. These qualities are strikingly obvious in the success of his method for the education of his children, and in the few of his letters which are published; and they are testified to in a very remarkable manner by his son in many passages of his letters, and in the thorough deference which he always pays to the judgment of his father, not only on matters relating to the conduct of life, but on points of art. Though not, like Leopold Mozart, a technical musician, and apparently having no acquaintance with the art, he had yet an insight into it which many musicians might envy. 'I am often,' says his son, 'quite unable to understand how it is possible to have so accurate a judgment about music without being a technical musician, and if I could only say what I feel in the same clear and intelligent manner that you always do, I would certainly never make another confused speech as long as I live.' Or again, this time after his death, 'not only my father, but … my teacher both in art and in life.'
Though apparently cold in his manners, and somewhat stern in his tone, and towards the end perhaps unduly irritable, Abraham Mendelssohn was greatly beloved by his wife and children. Felix, in particular, is described by the latest biographer as 'enthusiastically, almost fanatically, fond of him,' and the letters show how close was the confidence which existed between them. Hardly less remarkable was the mother. She was one of those rare persons whose influence seems to be almost in proportion to the absence of any attempt to exert it. Hiller, when a boy, saw her once, and the impression made upon him by the power of her quiet kindness and gentleness remained fresh in his mind after more than half a century. When her house was thronged with the intellect and wit of Berlin, she was the centre of the circle and the leader of the conversation. Her letters, of which large numbers exist in manuscript, are full of cleverness and character. [App. p.716 "Her practical sense of the value of money comes out in her letters to F. David. (See Eckardt's 'David,' 1888, pp. 42, 45.)"] The education of her children was her great object in life. She was strict—we may now think over strict; but no one who looks at the result in the character of her children can say that her method was not a wise one. They loved her dearly to the end, and the last letters which Felix wrote to her are full of an overflowing tenderness and a natural confidential intimacy which nothing can surpass. Calm and reserved like her husband, she was full of feeling, and had on occasion bursts of passion. Felix's intention to leave Berlin affected her to a 'terrible' degree—a degree which surprised him. He confesses that his yielding to the wishes of the King, after having made up his mind to retire, was due solely to her. 'You think that in my official position I could do nothing else. It was not that. It was my mother.'
How far she was herself a pianoforte-player we are not told, but the remark which she made after Fanny's birth, 'that the child had got Bach-fugue fingers,' shows that she knew a good deal about the matter. We learn also that she herself for some time taught the two eldest children music, beginning with lessons five minutes long, and gradually increasing the time until they went through a regular course of instruction. For many years Felix and Fanny never practised or played without the mother sitting by them, knitting in hand.
Felix was scarcely three when his family escaped to Berlin. The first definite event of which we hear after this is a visit to Paris by Joseph and Abraham in 1816, for the liquidation of the indemnity to be paid by France to Prussia on account of the war. Abraham took his family with him, and Felix and Fanny, then 7 and 11 respectively, were taught the piano by Madame Bigot, a remarkable musician, and apparently an excellent teacher. She was the daughter of a Madame Kiéné, and in 1816 was 30 years old. Miniatures of the four children were taken during this visit, which are still in existence. Soon after their return from Paris to the grandmother's house at the Neue Promenade, where the family still lived, the children's education seems to have begun systematically. Heyse was their tutor for general subjects, Ludwig Berger for the piano, Zelter for thorough bass and composition, Henning for the violin, and Rösel for landscape. Greek Felix learned with Rebecka, two years his junior, and advanced as far as Æschylus. On Oct. 24, 1818, he made his first appearance in public at a concert given by a certain Herr Gugel, in which he played the pianoforte part of a Trio for P.F. and 2 Horns by Woelfl, and was much applauded. The children were kept very closely to their lessons, and Felix is remembered in after-life to have said how much they enjoyed the Sundays, because then they were not forced to get up at 5 o'clock to work. Early in his 11th year, on April 11, 1819, he entered the singing class of the Singakademie as an alto, for the Friday practisings. There and elsewhere 'he took his place,' says Devrient, 'amongst the grown people in his child's suit, a tight-fitting jacket 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 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 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.
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.
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, his features and his expression were altering and maturing, his hair was cut short, and he was put into jackets and trowsers. His extemporising—which he had begun to practise early in 1821—was already remarkable, 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.
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 P.F. concerto of his own, probably that in A minor with quintet accompaniment.
It must not be supposed that the symphonies, operas, quartets, concertos, and other works mentioned were written for exercise only. It had been the custom in the Mendelssohn house for some time past to have musical parties on alternate Sunday mornings, with a small orchestra, in the large dining-room of the house, and the programmes included one or more of Felix's compositions. As a rule the pianoforte part was taken by himself or Fanny, or both, while Rebecka sang, and Paul played the cello. But Felix always conducted, even when so small as to have to stand on a stool to be seen; and thus enjoyed the benefit not only of hearing his compositions played (a benefit for which less fortunate composers—Schubert, for example—have sighed in vain) but of the practice in conducting and in playing before an audience. The size of the room was not sufficient for a large audience, but on these occasions it was always full, and few musicians of note passed through Berlin without being present. In performing the operettas and operas, no attempt was made to act them. The characters were distributed as far as the music went, but the dialogue was read out from the piano, and the chorus sat round the dining-table. Zelter, in strong contrast to his usual habit of impartial neglect of his pupils, was not only regularly there, but would criticise the piece at the close of the performance, and if he often praised would sometimes blame. The comments of his hearers however were received by Felix with perfect simplicity. Devrient has well described how entirely the music itself was his aim, and how completely subordinated were self-consciousness and vanity to the desire of learning, testing, and progressing in his art. These Sunday performances, however, were only one feature of the artistic and intellectual life of the house. Music went on every evening more or less, theatricals, impromptu or studied, were often got up, and there was a constant flux and reflux of young, clever, distinguished people, who made the suppers delightfully gay and noisy, and among whom Felix was the favourite.
The full rehearsal of his fourth opera, 'Die beiden Neffen,' on his birthday, Feb. 3, 1824, was an event in the boy's life. At supper, after the conclusion of the work, Zelter, adopting freemason phraseology, raised him from the grade of 'apprentice,' and pronounced him an 'assistant,' 'in the name of Mozart, and of Haydn, and of old Bach.' A great incentive to his progress had been given shortly before this in the score of Bach's Passion, copied by Zelter's express permission from the MS. in the Singakademie, and given him by his grandmother at Christmas, 1823. The copy was made by Eduard Rietz, who had succeeded Henning as his violin teacher, and to whom he was deeply attached. His confirmation took place about this date, under Wilmsen, a well-known clergyman of Berlin. Preparation for confirmation in Germany is often a long and severe process, and though it may not in Felix's case have led to any increase in church-going, as it probably would in that of an English lad similarly situated, yet we may be sure that it deepened that natural religious feeling which was so strong an element in the foundation of his character.
In the compositions of 1824 there is a great advance. The Symphony in C minor (op. 11)—which we know as 'No. 1,' but which on the autograph in the library of the Philharmonic Society is marked 'No. XIII'—was composed between March 3 and 31. The Sestet for P.F. and strings (op. 110), the Quartet in B minor (op. 3), a fantasia for 4 hands on the P.F., and a motet in 5 nos., are all amongst the works of this year. An important event in the summer of 1824 was a visit of the father, Felix, and Rebecka, to Dobberan, a bathing place on the shores of the Baltic near Rostock. For the wind-band at the bath-establishment Felix wrote an overture, which he afterwards scored for a full military band and published as Op. 24. But the chief result of the visit was that he there for the first time saw the sea, and received those impressions and images which afterwards found their tangible shape in the Meeresstille Overture.
Among the great artists who came into contact with Felix at this time was Moscheles, then on his way from Vienna to Paris and London. He was already famous as a player, and Madame Mendelssohn calls him 'the prince of pianists.' He remained in Berlin for six weeks in November and December, 1824, and was almost daily at the Mendelssohns'; and after a time, at the urgent request of the parents, and with great hesitation on his own part, gave Felix regular lessons on the pianoforte every other day. Moscheles was now just turned thirty. It is pleasant to read of his unfeigned love and admiration for Felix and his home—'a family such as I have never known before; Felix a mature artist, and yet but fifteen; Fanny extraordinarily gifted, playing Bach's fugues by heart and with astonishing correctness—in fact, a thorough musician. The parents give me the impression of people of the highest cultivation. They are very far from being over-proud of their children; indeed, they are in anxiety about Felix's future, whether his gifts are lasting, and will lead to a solid, permanent future, or whether he may not suddenly collapse, like so many other gifted children.' 'He has no need of lessons; if he wishes to take a hint from me as to anything new to him, he can easily do so.' Such remarks as these do honour to all concerned, and it is delightful to find Mendelssohn years afterwards, in the full glory of his great fame, referring to these very lessons as having fanned the sacred fire within him and urged him on to enthusiasm.
Moscheles has preserved two of the Sunday morning programmes:—
'Nov. 28. Morning music at the Mendelssohn's:—Felix's C minor Quartet; D major Symphony; Concerto by Bach (Fanny); Duet for 2 pianos in D minor, Arnold.'
'Dec. 12. Sunday music at Mendelssohn's:—Felix's F minor Quartet. I played my Duet for a Pianos in G. Little Schilling played Hummel's Trio in G.'
Moscheles was followed by Spohr, who came to superintend the production of his 'Jessonda' (Feb. 14, 1825). He was often at the house, and on very intimate terms, though he does not mention the fact in his Autobiography.
One or two accounts by competent judges of Felix's style of playing at this time have survived. Hiller was with him in Frankfort in the spring of 1825, and speaks both of his extemporising, and of his playing the music of others. With the latter he delighted both Hiller and André (who relished neither his face, his ideas, nor his manners) by playing the Allegretto of Beethoven's 7th Symphony in such a 'powerful orchestral style' as fairly to stop André's mouth. With the former he carried Hiller away by extemporising on Handel's choruses in 'Judas,' as he had done Schelble, in the same room, three years before, on subjects from Bach's motets. This time his playing was quite in the vein of his subject, 'the figures thoroughly Handelian, the force and clearness of the passages in thirds and sixths and octaves really grand, and yet all belonging to the subject-matter, thoroughly true, genuine, living music, with no trace of display.' Dorn is more explicit as to his accompanying—the duet in Fidelio. 'He astonished me in the passage, Du wieder nun in meinen Annen, Gott! by the way in which he represented the cello and the basso parts on the piano, playing them two octaves apart. I asked him why he chose that striking way of rendering the passage, and he explained it all to me in the kindest manner. How many times since, says Dorn, has that duet been sung, but how seldom has it been so accompanied! He rarely played from book, either at this or any other time of his life. Even works like Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and the Sonata in B♭ (op. 106), he knew by heart. One of the grounds of Spontini's enmity to him is said to have been a performance of the 9th Symphony by Felix, without book, before Spontini himself had even heard it, and it is known on the best authority that he played the Symphony through by heart only a few months before his death. Here we may say that he had a passion for Beethoven's latest works, his acquaintance with which dated from their publication, Beethoven's last years (1820–27) exactly corresponding with his own growth to maturity. It was almost the only subject on which he disagreed with his father. On the other hand, the devotion of such very conservative artists as David, Rietz, and Bennett, to those works, is most probably due to Mendelssohn's influence. Marx challenges his reading of Beethoven; but this is to fly in the face of the judgment of all other critics.
The elder Mendelssohn made at this time a journey to Paris, for the purpose of fetching his sister Henriette back to Germany, and took Felix with him. They arrived on March 22. One of the first things he mentions is the astonishment of his relatives at finding him no longer a child. He plunged at once into musical society. Hummel, Onslow, Boucher, Herz, Halévy, Kalkbrenner, Moscheles (on his way back from Hamburg to London, with his bride), Pixis, Rode, Baillot, Kreutzer, Rossini, Paer, Meyerbeer, Plantade, and many more, were there, and all glad to make acquaintance with the wonderful boy. At Madame Kiéné's—Madame Bigot's mother—he played his new Quartet (in B minor) with Baillot and others, and with the greatest success.
The French musicians, however, made but a bad impression on him. Partly, no doubt, this is exaggerated in his letters, as in his criticism on Auber's Leocadie; but the ignorance of German music—even Onslow, for example, had never heard a note of Fidelio—and the insults to some of its masterpieces (such as the transformation of Freischütz into 'Robin des Bois,' and the comparison of a passage in Bach to a duet of Monsigny), and the general devotion to effect and outside glitter—these were just the things to enrage the lad at that enthusiastic age. With Cherubini their intercourse was very satisfactory. The old Florentine was more than civil to Felix, and his expressions of satisfaction (so very rare in his mouth) must have given the father the encouragement which he was so slow to take in the great future of his boy. Felix describes him in a few words as 'an extinct volcano, now and then blazing up, but all covered with ashes and stones.' He wrote a Kyrie 'a 5 voci and grandissimo orchestra' at Cherubini's instance, which he describes as 'bigger than anything he had yet done.' It seems to have been lost. Through all this the letters home are as many as ever, full of music, descriptions, and jokes—often very bad ones. Here, for instance, is a good professional query, 'Ask Ritz if he knows what Fes moll is.'
On May 19, 1825, the father and son left Paris with Henriette ('Tante Jette'), who had retired from her post at General Sebastiani's with an ample pension, and thenceforward resided at Berlin. On the road home they paid a short visit (the third) to Goethe, at Weimar. Felix played the B minor Quartet, and delighted the poet by dedicating it to him. It is a marvellous work for a boy of sixteen, and an enormous advance on either of its two predecessors; but probably no one not even the composer—suspected that the Scherzo (in FĊd; minor, 3-8) was to be the first of a 'family of scherzi which, if he had produced nothing else, would stamp him as an inventor in the most emphatic signification of the word.' It must be admitted that Goethe made him a very poor return for his charming music. Anything more stiff and ungraceful than the verses which he wrote for him, and which are given in 'Goethe and Mendelssohn,' it would be difficult to find, unless it be another stanza, also addressed to Felix, and printed in vol. vi. p. 144 of the poet's works:—
|Wenn das Talent verständig waltet,
Wirksame Tugend nie veraltet.
Wer Menschen gröndlich konnt' erfreun,
Der darf stch vor der Zeit nicht scheun;
Und möchtet ihr ihm Beifall geben,
So gebt ihn uns, die wir ihn frisch beleben.
|If Talent reigns with Wisdom great,|
Virtue is never out of date.
He who can give us pleasure true
Need never fear what Time can do:
And will you Talent your approval give?
Then give it us who make her newly live.
They were at home before the end of May. The fiery Capriccio for P.F. in F♯ minor (afterwards published as op. 5), so full of the spirit of Bach, is dated July 23 of this year, and the score of Camacho's wedding—an opera in two acts by Klingemann, founded on an episode in Don Quixote—Aug. 10. The Capriccio was a great favourite with him, and he called it un absurdité. [App. p.716 "for un read une."]
The Mendelssohn-Bartholdy family was beginning to outgrow the accommodation afforded by the grandmother's roof, and at the end of this summer they removed from No. 7 Neue Promenade to a large house and grounds which had formerly belonged to the noble family of Reck, namely to No. 3 of the Leipziger Strasse, the address so familiar to all readers of Felix's subsequent letters. If we were writing the life of an ancient prophet or poet, we should take the name of the 'Leipzig Road' as a prediction of his ultimate establishment in that town; but no token of such an event was visible at the time. The new residence lay in a part of Berlin which was then very remote, close to the Potsdam Gate, on the edge of the old Thiergarten, or deer-park, of Frederick the Great, so far from all the accustomed haunts of their friends, that at first the laments were loud. The house was of a dignified, old-fashioned kind, with spacious and lofty rooms; behind it a large court with offices, and behind that again a beautiful stretch of ground, half park, half garden, with noble trees, lilacs, and other flowering shrubs, turf, alleys, walks, banks, summer-houses, and seats—the whole running far back, covering about ten acres, and being virtually in the country. Its advantages for music were great. The house itself contained a room precisely fitted for large music parties or private theatricals; and at the back of the court, and dividing it from the garden, there was a separate building called the 'Gartenhaus,' the middle of which formed a hall capable of containing several hundred persons, with glass doors opening right on to the lawns and alleys—in short a perfect place for the Sunday music. Though not without its drawbacks in winter reminding one in Mr. Hensel's almost pathetic description of the normal condition of too many an English house it was an ideal summer home, and '3, Leipziger Strasse' is in Mendelssohn's mouth a personality, to which he always turned with longing, and which he loved as much as he hated the rest of Berlin. It was identified with the Mendelssohn-Bartholdys till his death, after which it was sold to the state; and the Herrenhaus, or House of Lords of the German government, now stands on the site of the former court and Gartenhaus.
Devrient takes the completion of Camacho and the leaving the grandmother's house as the last acts of Felix's musical minority; and he is hardly wrong, for the next composition was a wonderful leap into maturity. It was no other than the Octet for strings (afterwards published as op. 20), which was finished towards the end of October 1825, and was dedicated as a birthday gift to Edward Ritz. It is the first of his works which can be said to have fully maintained its ground on its own merits, and is a truly astonishing composition for a boy half-way through his 17th year. There is a radiance, a freedom, and an individuality in the style which are far ahead of the 13th Symphony, or any other of the previous instrumental works, and it is steeped throughout in that inexpressible captivating charm which is so remarkable in all Mendelssohn's best compositions. The Scherzo especially (G minor, 2-4) is a movement of extraordinary lightness and grace, and the Finale, besides being a masterly piece of counterpoint (it is a fugue), contains in the introduction of the subject of the scherzo a very early instance of the 'transformation of themes,' of which we have lately heard so much. Felix had confided to Fanny that his motto for the scherzo was the following stanza in the Intermezzo of Faust:—
|Wolkenzug und Nebelflor
Erhellen stch von oben;
Luft im Laub, und Wind im Rohr,
—Und alles ist zerstoben.
|Floating cloud and trailing mist|
Bright'ning o'er us hover;
Airs stir the brake, the rushes shake—
And all their pomp is over.
and never was a motto more perfectly carried out in execution. The whole of the last part, so light and airy—and the end, in particular, where the fiddles run softly up to the high G, accompanied only with staccato chords—is a perfect illustration of 'alles ist zerstoben.' He afterwards instrumented it for the full orchestra, but it is hard to say if it is improved by the process.—The so-called Trumpet Overture, in C (op. 101), was almost certainly composed this autumn, and was first heard at a concert given by Maurer, in Berlin, on Nov. 2, at which Felix played the P.F. part of Beethoven's Choral Fantasia. This overture was a special favourite of Abraham Mendelssohn's, who said that he should like to hear it while he died. It was for long in MS. in the hands of the Philharmonic Society, and was not published till many years after the death of the composer. 1826 opens with the String Quintet in A (op. 18), which if not perhaps so great as the Octet, is certainly on the same side of the line, and the scherzo of which, in fugue-form, is a worthy companion to its predecessors. The Sonata in E (op. 6) is of this date (March 22, 1826). So is an interesting looking Andante and Allegro (June 27), written for the windband of a Beer-garden which he used to pass on the way to bathe; the MS. is safe in the hands of Dr. Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.
But all these were surpassed by the Overture to 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' which was composed during the peculiarly fine summer of 1826, under the charming conditions of life in the new garden, and the score of which is signed 'Berlin, Aug. 6, 1826.' It appears to have been the immediate result of a closer acquaintance with Shakspeare, through the medium of Schlegel and Tieck's version, which he and his sisters read this year for the first time. Marx claims to have been much consulted during its progress, and even to have suggested essential modifications. Fanny also no doubt was in this, as in other instances, her brother's confidante, but the result must have astonished even the fondest wishes of those who knew him best. It is asserted by one who has the best right to judge, and is not prone to exaggeration, 'that no one piece of music contains so many points of harmony and orchestration that had never been written before; and yet none of them have the air of experiment, but seem all to have been written with certainty of their success.' In this wonderful overture, as in the Octet and Quintet, the airy fairy lightness, and the peculiar youthful grace, are not less remarkable than the strength of construction and solidity of workmanship which underlie and support them. Not the least singular thing about it is the exact manner in which it is found to fit into the music for the whole play when that music was composed 17 years later. The motives of the overture all turn out to have their native places in the drama. After many a performance as a duet on the piano, the overture was played by an orchestra in the Mendelssohns' garden-house, to a crowded audience, and its first production in public seems to have been at Stettin, in Feb. 1827, whither Felix went in very severe weather to conduct it. With the composition of this work he may be said to have taken his final musical degree, and his lessons with Zelter were discontinued.
Camacho had been submitted to Spontini as General-Music-Director in the preceding year by Felix himself. Spontini was then, by an odd freak of fortune, living in a house which had for some time been occupied by the Mendelssohns in the early part of their residence in Berlin, viz. 28 Markgrafen Strasse, opposite the Catholic church. Taking the young composer by the arm, Spontini led him to the window, and pointing to the dome across the street, said, 'Mon ami, il vous faut des idées grandes comme cette coupole.' This from a man of 52, in the highest position, to a boy of 17, could hardly have been meant for anything but kindly, though pompous, advice. But it was not so taken. The Mendelssohns and Spontini were not only of radically different natures, but they belonged to opposite parties in music, and there was considerable friction in their intercourse. At length, early in 1827 after various obstructions on Spontini's part, the opera was given out for rehearsal and study, and on April 29 was produced. The house—not the Opera, but the smaller theatre—was crowded with friends, and the applause vehement; at the end the composer was loudly called for, but he had left the theatre, and Devrient had to appear in his stead. Owing to the illness of Blum, the tenor, the second performance was postponed, and the piece was never again brought forward. Partly from the many curious obstructions which arose in the course of the rehearsals, and the personal criticisms which followed it, partly perhaps from a just feeling that the libretto was poor and his music somewhat exaggerated, but mainly no doubt from the fact that during two such progressive years as had passed since he wrote the piece he had outgrown his work, Felix seems to have so far lost interest in it as not to press for another performance. The music was published complete in Pianoforte score by Laue, of Berlin, and one of the songs was included in op. 10, as No. 8. It should not be overlooked that the part of Don Quixote affords an instance of the use of 'Leit-motif'—a term which has very lately come into prominence, but which was here Mendelssohn's own invention.
A nature so keenly sensitive as his could hardly be expected to pass with impunity through such worries as attended the production of the opera. He was so sincere and honest that the sneers of the press irritated him unduly. A year before he had vented his feelings in some lines which will be new to most readers:—
|Schreibt der Komponiste ernst,
Schläfert er uns ein;
Schreibt der Komponiste froh,
Ist er zu gemein.
|If the artist gravely writes,|
To sleep it will beguile.
If the artist gaily writes,
It is a vulgar style.
|Schreibt der Komponiste lang,
Ist er zum Erbarmen;
Schreibt ein Komponiste kurz,
Kann man nicht erwarmen.
|If the artist writes at length,|
How sad his hearers' lot!
If the artist briefly writes,
No man will care one jot.
|Schreibt ein Komponiste klar,
Ist's ein armen Tropf;
Schreibt ein Komponiste tief
Rappelt's ihn am Kopf.
|If an artist simply writes,|
A fool he's said to be.
If an artist deeply writes,
He's mad; 'tis plain to see.
|Schreib' er also wie er will,
Keinem steht es an;
Darum schreib ein Komponist
Wie er will und kann.
|In whatsoever way he writes|
He can't please every man;
Therefore let an artist write
How he likes and can.
But on the present occasion the annoyance was too deep to be thrown off by a joke. It did in fact for a time seriously affect his health and spirits, and probably laid the foundation for that dislike of the officialism and pretension, the artists and institutions, the very soil and situation of Berlin, which so curiously pervades his letters whenever he touches on that city. His depression was increased by the death of an old friend, named Hanstein, who was carried off this spring, and by the side of whose deathbed Felix composed the well-known Fugue in E minor (op. 35, no. 1). The chorale in the major, which forms the climax of the fugue, is intended, as we are told on good authority, to express his friend's release. But Felix was too young and healthy, and his nature too eager, to allow him to remain in despondency. A sonata in B♭, for P.F. solo (afterwards published as op. 106) is signed May 31, 1827, and on Whit-Sunday, June 3, we find him at Sakrow, near Potsdam, the property of his friend Magnus, composing the charming Lied, 'Ist es wahr?' which within a few months he employed to advantage in his Quartet in A minor (op. 13). Meantime—probably in 1826—he had entered the university of Berlin, where his tutor Heyse was now a professor. For his matriculation essay he sent in a translation in verse of the Andria of Terence, which primarily served as a birthday present to his mother (March 15). This translation was published in a volume, with a preface and essay, and a version of the 9th Satire of Horace, by Heyse. Mendelssohn's translation has been recently examined by an eminent English scholar, who reports that as a version it is precise and faithful, exceedingly literal, and corresponding closely with the original both in rhythm and metre, while its language, as far as an Englishman may judge of German, is quite worthy of representing the limpid Latin of Terence. Professor Munro also points out that as this was the first attempt in Germany to render Terence in his own metres, it may be presumed to have set the example to the scholars who have since that date, as a rule, translated Plautus and Terence and other kindred Greek and Latin classics in the original metres. It was by no means his first attempt at verse; for a long mock-heroic of the year 1820 has been preserved, called the Paphleïs, in 3 cantos, occupied with the adventures of his brother Paul (Paphlos), full of slang and humour, and in hexameters.
Whether Felix went through the regular university course or not, does not appear, but no doubt the proceeding was a systematic one, and he certainly attended several classes, amongst them those of Hegel, and took especial pleasure in the lectures of the great Carl Ritter on geography. Of his notes of these, two folio volumes, closely written in a hand like copper-plate, and dated 1827 and 28, still exist. Italian he was probably familiar with before he went to Italy; and in later years he knew it so thoroughly as to be able to translate into German verse the very crabbed sonnets of Dante, Boccaccio, Cecco Angiolieri, and Cino, for his uncle Joseph in 1840. Landscape drawing, in which he was ultimately to excel so greatly, he had already worked at for several years. For mathematics he had neither taste nor capacity, and Schubring pathetically describes the impossibility of making him comprehend how the polestar could be a guide in travelling.
The change into the new house was a great event in the family life. Felix began gymnastics, and became a very great proficient in them. He also learned to ride, and to swim, and with him learning a thing meant practising it to the utmost, and getting all the enjoyment and advantage that could be extracted from it. He was a great dancer, now and for many years after. Billiards he played brilliantly. Skating was the one outdoor exercise which he did not succeed in—he could not stand the cold. The garden was a vast attraction to their friends, and Boccia (a kind of bowls) was the favourite game under the old chestnut-trees which still overshadow the central alley. The large rooms also gave a great impetus to the music, and to the mixed society which now flocked to the house more than ever. We hear of Rahel and Varnhagen, Bettina, Heine, Holtei, Lindblad, Steffens, Gans, Marx, Kugler, Droysen; of Humboldt, W. Müller, Hegel (for whom alone a card-table was provided), and other intellectual and artistic persons, famous, or to be famous afterwards. Young people too there were in troops; the life was free, and it must have been a delightful, wholesome, and thoroughly enjoyable time. Among the features of the garden life was a newspaper, which in summer was called 'Gartenzeitung,' 'The Garden Times'; in winter 'Schnee-und-Thee-zeitung,' 'The Snow-and-Tea Times.' It appears to have been edited by Felix and Marx, but all comers were free to contribute, for which purpose pens, ink, and paper lay in one of the summer-houses. Nor was it confined to the younger part of the society, but grave personages, like Humboldt and Zelter even, did not disdain to add their morsel of fun or satire. In all this brilliant interchange of art, science, and literature, Felix, even at this early date, was the prominent figure. It was now as it was all through his life. When he entered the room every one was anxious to speak to him. Women of double his age made love to him, and men, years afterwards, recollected the evenings they had spent with him, and treasured every word that fell from his lips. One who knew him well at this time, but afterwards broke with him, speaks of the separation as 'a draught of wormwood, the bitter taste of which remained for years.'
The latter half of August and the whole of September were passed in a tour with Magnus and Heydemann through the Harz mountains to Baden-Baden (where his amusing adventures must be read in his letters), and thence by Heidelberg, where he made the acquaintance of Thibaut and his old Italian music, to Frankfort. At Frankfort he saw Schelble and Hiller, and delighted them with his new A minor Quartet (op. 13)—not yet fully written down; and with the 'Midsummer Night's Dream' overture, which although a year old was still new to the world.
The annoyance about Camacho had vanished with the tour, and Felix could now treat the tory as a joke, and take off the principal persons concerned. The A minor Quartet was completed directly after his return home, and is dated 'Berlin, Oct. 27, 1827.' Of further compositions this year we know only of the beautiful fugue in E♭ for strings (on his favourite old ecclesiastical subject), which since his death has been published as the 4th movement of op. 81. It is dated Berlin, Nov. 1. Also a 'Tu es Petrus' for choir and orchestra, written for Fanny's birthday (Nov. 14), and published as op. 111. A very comic 'Kinder-symphonie' for the Christmas home party, for the same orchestra as Haydn's, and a motet for 4 voices and small orchestra on the chorale 'Christe du Lamm Gottes,' are named by Fanny in a letter. Soon after this their circle sustained a loss in the departure of Klingemann, one of the cleverest and most genial of the set, to London as Secretary to the Hans [App. p.716 "Hanoverian"] Legation. During this winter Felix—incited thereto by a complaint of Schubring's, that Bach always seemed to him like an arithmetical exercise—formed a select choir of 16 voices, who met at his house on Saturday evenings, and at once began to practise the Passion. This was the seed which blossomed in the public performance of that great work a year later, and that again in the formation of the Bachgesellschaft, and the publication of the Grand Mass, and all the Church Cantatas and other works, which have proved such mines of wealth. Long and complicated as the Passion is, he must have known it by heart even at that early date; for among other anecdotes proving as much, Schubring, who may be implicitly believed, relates that one evening after accompanying one of the choruses at the piano without book, he said, 'at the 23rd bar the sopranos have C and not C sharp.'
March 1828 was occupied by the composition of a long cantata [App. p.716 "lyric poem—'lyrische Dictung'"] to words by Levezow, for the Tercentenary Festival of Albert Dürer, at the Singakademie at Berlin, on April 18. It was undertaken at the request of the Akademie der Künste, and is written for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra, and contains 15 numbers. The 'Trumpet Overture' preceded it in performance. Felix was not in love with his task, but as the work grew into shape and the rehearsals progressed, he became reconciled to it; the performance was good, and Fanny's sisterly verdict is that 'she never remembers to have spent a pleasanter hour.' The work remains in MS. at the Singakademie and the Berlin Bibliothek, and has probably the faults of almost all such compositions. Even Beethoven failed when he had to write to order. Fate however had a second task of the same kind in store for Felix, with some curious variations. This time the cantata was for a meeting (or, as we should now call it, a 'congress') of physicians and investigators of natural science, to whom a festival was given by A. von Humboldt as president. Bellstab wrote the words, and Felix was invited to compose the music. It contains 7 numbers for solo and chorus. Owing to a whim of Humboldt's the chorus was confined to men's voices, and the orchestra to clarinets, horns, trumpets, cellos, and basses. The thing came off in September; but no ladies—not even Fanny—were admitted, no report is given in the musical paper; and as there is no mention of it in the MS. Catalogue the autograph has probably vanished. Chopin was present at the sitting of the congress, and saw Mendelssohn with Spontini and Zelter; but his modesty kept him from introducing himself, and their acquaintance was put off to a later date.
Felix had however during the summer been occupied in a more congenial task than such pièces d'occasion as these, viz. in the composition of the Overture to Goethe's 'Calm sea and Prosperous voyage,' on which we find him employed in June. Fanny gives us the interesting information that he especially avoided the form of an Overture with Introduction, and wished his work to stand as two companion pictures. She mentions also his having written pianoforte pieces at this time, including some 'Lieder ohne Worte' (a title not destined to come before the world for some years) and a great Antiphona and Responsorium for 4 choirs, 'Hora est,' etc., which still remains in MS.
For Christmas he wrote a second Kinder-symphonie, which delighted every one so much that it had to be repeated on the spot. He also re-scored Handel's Acis and Galatea, and the Dettingen Te Deum, at Zelter's desire, for the use of the Singakademie. They have since been published, but are not satisfactory specimens of such work. He also wrote the Variations in D for P.F. and Cello (op. 17), dated Jan. 30, 1829, and dedicated to his brother Paul, who was more than a fair Cello player. The 'Calm sea and Prosperous voyage' was finished, or finished as nearly as any score of Mendelssohn's can be said to have been finished before it was publicly performed, and had received those innumerable corrections and alterations and afterthoughts, which he always gave his works, and which in some instances caused the delay of their appearance for years—which in fact prevented the appearance of the Italian Symphony till his removal made any further revision impossible. We have already seen that the basis of the work was furnished by the visit to Dobberan. A MS. letter from that place to Fanny (July 27, 1824) gives her an account of the sea in the two conditions in which it is depicted in the overture.
Felix's little choir had steadily continued their practice of the Passion, and the better they knew the mighty work the more urgent became their desire for a public performance by the Singakademie (300 to 400 voices) under Felix's own care. Apart from the difficulties of the music, with its double choruses and double orchestra, two main obstacles appeared to lie in the way—the opposition of Zelter as head of the Akademie, and the apathy of the public. Felix, for one, 'utterly disbelieved' in the possibility of overcoming either, and with him were his parents and Marx, whose influence in the house was great. Against him were Devrient, Schubring, Bauer, and one or two other enthusiasts. At length Devrient and Felix determined to go and beard Zelter in his den. They encountered a few rough words, but their enthusiasm gained the day. Zelter yielded, and allowed Felix to conduct the rehearsals of the Akademie. The principal solo singers of the Opera at once gave in their adhesion; the rehearsals began; Felix's tact, skill, and intimate knowledge of the music carried everything before them, the public flocked to the rehearsals; and on Wednesday, March 11, 1829, the first performance of the Passion took place since the death of Bach; every ticket was taken, and a thousand people turned away from the doors. Thus in Felix's own words (for once and once only alluding to his descent) 'it was an actor and a Jew who restored this great Christian work to the people.' There was a second performance under Felix on Bach's birthday, March 21. It is probable that these successes did not add to Felix's popularity with the musicians of Berlin. Whether it was his age, his manner, his birth, the position held by his family, or what, certain it is that he was at this time in some way under a cloud. He had so far quarrelled with the Royal Orchestra that they refused to be conducted by him, and concerts at which his works were given were badly attended.
Paganini made his first appearance in Berlin this month, gave four concerts, and bewitched the Berliners as he did every one else. He very soon found his way to the Leipziger Strasse. It would be interesting to know if he heard the Passion, and if, like Rossini, some years later, he professed himself a convert to Bach.
Whistling's Handbuch shows that by the end of this year Felix had published his 3 P.F. Quartets; the Sonata for P.F. and V.; the Caprice, op. 5; the Sonata for P.F. solo; the Wedding of Camacho; and the first two books of Songs. The dedications of these throw a light on some things. The quartets are inscribed respectively to Prince A. Radzivil (a friend of the family, who was present at the first performance of the 'Beiden Pädagogen' at the Neue Promenade), Zelter, and Goethe; the Violin Sonata to E. Ritz, Felix's favourite violin player; the 7 Characteristic P.F. pieces to Ludwig Berger, his P.F. teacher. The rest have no dedications.
The engagement of Fanny Mendelssohn to William Hensel the painter of Berlin took place on January 22, 1829, in the middle of the excitement about the Passion; and on April 10 Felix took leave for England. He was now 20. His age, the termination of his liability to military service, the friction just alluded to between himself and the musical world of Berlin—all things invited him to travel, and Zelter was not wrong in saying that it was good for him to leave home for a time. Hitherto also he had worked without fee or reward. He was now to prove that he could make his living by music. But more than this was involved. His visit to England was the first section of a long journey, planned by the care and sagacity of his father, and destined to occupy the next three years of his life. In this journey he was 'closely to examine the various countries, and to fix on one in which to live and work; to make his name and abilities known, so that where he settled he should not be received as a stranger; and lastly to employ his good fortune in life, and the liberality of his father, in preparing the ground for future efforts.' The journey was thus to be to him what the artistic tour of other musicians had been to them; but with the important difference, resulting from his fortunate position in life, that the establishment of his musical reputation was not the exclusive object, but that his journey was to give him a knowledge of the world, and form his character and manners. The answer attributed to a young Scotch student who was afterwards to become a great English archbishop, when asked why he had come to Oxford—'to improve myself and to make friends'—exactly expresses the special object of Mendelssohn's tour, and is the mark which happily distinguished it from those of so many of his predecessors in the art. Music had not been adopted as a profession for Felix without much hesitation, and resistance on the part of some of his relations, and his father was wisely resolved that in so doing nothing should be sacrificed in the general culture and elevation of his son. 'To improve himself, and to make friends' was Mendelssohn's motto, not only during his grand tour but throughout his career.
It was their first serious parting. His father and Rebecka accompanied him to Hamburg. The boat (the 'Attwood') left on the Saturday evening before Easter Sunday, April 18, and it was not till noon on Tuesday, the 21st, that he reached the Custom House, London. The passage was a very bad one, the engines broke down, and Mendelssohn lay insensible for the whole of Sunday and Monday. He was welcomed on landing by Klingemann and Moscheles, and had a lodging at 103, Great Portland Street, where his landlord was Heincke, a German ironmonger.
It was the middle of the musical season, and Malibran made her first reappearance at the Opera, as Desdemona, on the night of his arrival. His account of her, with other letters describing this period, will be found in Hensel's 'Familie Mendelssohn' (i. 115–294), and in Devrient's 'Recollections.' Other singers in London at that time were Sontag, Pisaroni, Mad. Stockhausen, and Donzelli; also Velluti, the castrato, a strange survival of the ancient world, whom it is difficult to think of in connexion with Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. De Beriot and Madame Dulcken were among the players. Fetis too was in London delivering his lectures on 'La musique a la portée de tout le monde,' in French, to English audiences.
Felix was much with the Moscheleses, and there met Neukomm, with whom, in everything but his music, he sympathised warmly.
His first appearance before an English audience was at the Philharmonic Concert (then held in the Argyll Rooms, at the upper end of Regent Street) on Monday evening, May 25, when he conducted his Symphony in C minor. Old John Cramer 'led him to the piano,' at which in those days the conductor sat or stood, 'as if he were a young lady.' The applause was immense, and the Scherzo (scored by him from his Ottet for this occasion, in place of the original Minuet and Trio) was obstinately encored against his wish. How deeply he felt the warmth of his reception may be seen from his letter to the Society. He published the Symphony with a dedication to the Philharmonic, and they on their part elected him an honorary member on Nov. 29, 1829. It was thus an English body which gave him his first recognition as a composer. The simple applause of London had wiped out the sneers and misunderstandings of Berlin. This he never forgot; it recurs throughout his correspondence, and animates his account of his latest visits to us. Near the close of his life he spoke of it as 'having lifted a stone from his heart.' The English had much to learn, and he could laugh heartily at them; but at least they loved him and his music, and were quite in earnest in their appreciation. Five days afterwards, on the 30th, at 2 p.m., he appeared again in the same room at what is vaguely called in the Times of June 1, 'the fourth grand concert.' He played the Concertstück of Weber—as the same journal informs us—'with no music before him.' A charming letter, equal to any in the whole collection for its gaiety and bright humour, describes his coming to the rooms early to try the piano—a new Clementi—and his losing himself in extemporising till he was recalled by finding that the audience were taking their seats. Two other concerts must be mentioned:—one by Drouet, the flute-player, on Midsummer Night, at which, most appropriately, the Overture to the Midsummer Night's Dream was given, for the first time in England, and he himself played the E♭ Concerto of Beethoven, then an absolute novelty in this country. After the concert the score of the overture was left in the hackney coach by Mr. Attwood, and lost. On Mendelssohn's hearing of it, he said, 'Never mind, I will make another.' He did, and on comparing it with the parts no variations were found. The other concert was on July 13, for the benefit of the sufferers from the floods in Silesia. At this the Overture was repeated, and Felix and Moscheles played (for the first and only time in England) a Concerto by the former for two Pianofortes and Orchestra, in E. All this was a brilliant beginning, as far as compositions went; it placed him in the best possible position before the musical society of London, but it did not do much to solve the question of livelihood, since the only commission which we hear of his receiving, and which delighted him hugely, he was compelled for obvious reasons to decline, viz. a festival hymn for Ceylon for the anniversary of the emancipation of the natives!—an idea so comical that he says it had kept him laughing inwardly for two days. A MS. letter of this time (dated June 7) is signed 'Composer to the Island of Ceylon.'
But he found time for other things besides music; for the House of Commons, and picture galleries, and balls at Devonshire House and Lansdowne House, and so many other parties, that the good people at home took fright and thought he was giving up music for society, and would become a drawing-room ornament. The charm of his manner and his entire simplicity took people captive, and he laid a good foundation this year for the time to come.
An amusing little picture of himself and his friends Rosen and Mühlenfeld, coming home late from a state dinner at the Prussian Ambassador's, buying three German sausages, and then finding a quiet street in which to devour them, with a three-part song and peals of laughter between the mouthfuls, shows how gaily life went on outside the concert-room.
At length the musical season was over. Felix and Klingemann left London about July 21, and, stopping at York and Durham, were in Edinburgh by the 28th. On the 29th they were present at the annual competition of Highland Pipers in the Theatre Royal. On the 30th, before leaving 'the gray metropolis of the north,' they went over Holyrood Palace, saw the traditional scene of the murder of Rizzio, and the chapel, with the altar at which Mary was crowned standing 'open to the sky, and surrounded with grass and ivy, and everything ruined and decayed'; 'and I think,' he continues, 'that I found there the beginning of my Scotch Symphony.' The passage which he then wrote down was the first 16 bars of the Introduction, which recurs at the end of the first movement, and thus forms, as it were, the motto of the work.
From Edinburgh they went to Abbotsford, and thence by Stirling, Perth, and Dunkeld, to Blair-Athol; then on foot by Fort-William to Tobennory, sketching and writing enormous letters at every step. On the way they visited Fingal's Cave, and Felix, writing 'auf einer Hebride'—'on one of the Hebrides'—Aug. 7, gives twenty bars of music, 'to show how extraordinarily the place affected me.' These 20 bars, an actual inspiration, are virtually identical with the opening of the wonderful Overture which bears the name of 'Hebrides' or 'Fingal's Cave.' Then came Glasgow, and then Liverpool. At Liverpool they went over a new American liner called the Napoleon, and Felix, finding a Broadwood piano in the saloon, sat down to it and played for himself and his friend the first movement of Fanny's 'Easter-Sonata'—whatever that may have been. Home was always in his thoughts. Then to Holyhead for Ireland, but the weather was dreadful (apparently as bad as in 1879)—'yesterday was a good day, for I was only wet through three times.' So he turned back to Liverpool, there said good-bye to Klingemann, and went on by Chester to the house of Mr. John Taylor, the mining engineer, at Coed-du near Holywell. Here he remained for some days, seeing a very pleasant side of English country life, and making an indelible impression on his hosts; and here he composed the three pieces which form op. 16, the first of which, in key, tempo, and melody, closely resembles the introduction to the Scotch Symphony. The following letter, written after his death by a member of the Taylor family, gives a good idea of the clever, genial, gay, and yet serious, nature of the man at this happy time of life:—
It was in the year 1829 that we first became acquainted with Mr. Mendelssohn. He was introduced to us by my aunt, Mrs. Austin, who had well known his cousin Professor Mendelssohn, at Bonn. He visited us early in the season in Bedford Row, but our real friendship began at Coed-du, which was a house near Mold in Flintshire, rented for many years by my father, Mr. John Taylor.
Mr. Mendelssohn came down there to spend a little time with us, in the course of a tour in England and Scotland. My father and mother received him kindly, as they did everybody, but his arrival created no particular sensation, as many strangers came to our house to see the mines under my father's management, and foreigners were often welcomed there. Soon however we began to find that a most accomplished mind had come among us, quick to observe, delicate to distinguish. There was a little shyness about him, great modesty. We knew little about his music, but the wonder of it grew upon us; and I remember one night when my two sisters and I went to our rooms how we began saying to each other 'Surely this must be a man of genius … we can't be mistaken about the music; never did we hear any one play so before. Yet we know the best London musicians. Surely by and bye we shall hear that Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy is a great name in the world.'
My father's birthday happened while Mr. Mendelssohn was with us. There was a grand expedition to a distant mine, up among the hills; a tent carried up there, a dinner to the miners. We had speeches, and health-drinkings, and Mendelssohn threw himself into the whole thing, as if he had been one of us. He interested himself in hearing about the condition and way of life of the Welsh miners. Nothing was lost upon him. A letter that he wrote to my brother John just after he left Coed-du, charmingly describes the impressions he carried away of that country. Sometimes he would go out sketching with us girls, sitting down very seriously to draw, but making the greatest fun of attempts which he considered to be unsuccessful. One figure of a Welsh girl he imagined to be like a camel, and she was called the camel accordingly. Though he scorned his own drawings, he had the genuine artist-feeling, and great love for pictures. I need not say how deeply he entered into the beauty of the hills and the woods. His way of representing them was not with the pencil; but in the evenings his improvised music would show what he had observed or felt in the past day. The piece called The Rivulet, which he wrote at that time, for my sister Susan, will show what I mean; it was a recollection of a real actual rivulet.
We observed how natural objects seemed to suggest music to him. There was in my sister Honora's garden, a pretty creeping plant, new at that time, covered with little trumpet-like flowers. He was struck with it, and played for her the music which (he said) the fairies might play on those trumpets. When he wrote out the piece (called a Capriccio in E minor) he drew a little branch of that flower all up the margin of the paper.
The piece (an Andante and Allegro) which Mr. Mendelssohn wrote for me, was suggested by the sight of a bunch of carnations and roses. The carnations that year were very fine with us. He liked them best of all the flowers, would have one often in his button-hole. We found he intended the arpeggio passages in that composition as a reminder of the sweet scent of the flower rising up.
Mr. Mendelssohn was not a bit 'sentimental,' though he had so much sentiment. Nobody enjoyed fun more than he, and his laughing was the most joyous that could be. One evening in hot summer we staid in the wood above our house later than usual. We had been building a house of fir branches in Susan's garden up in the wood. We made a fire, a little way off it, in a thicket among the trees, Mendelssohn helping with the utmost zeal, dragging up more and more wood: we tired ourselves with our merry work; we sat down round our fire, the smoke went off, the ashes were glowing, it began to get dark, but we could not like to leave our bonfire. 'If we had but some music,' Mendelssohn said; 'Could any one get something to play on?' Then my brother recollected that we were near the gardener's cottage, and that the gardener had a fiddle. Off rushed our boys to get the fiddle. When it came, it was the wretchedest thing in the world, and it had but one string. Mendelssohn took the instrument into his hands, and fell into fits of laughter over it when he heard the sounds it made. His laughter was very catching, he put us all into peals of merriment. But he, somehow, afterwards brought beautiful music out of the poor old fiddle, and we sat listening to one strain after another till the darkness sent us home.
My cousin John Edward Taylor was staying with us at that time. He had composed an imitation Welsh air, and he was, before breakfast, playing over this, all unconscious that Mr. Mendelssohn (whose bed-room was next the drawing-room) was hearing every note. That night, when we had music as usual, Mr. Mendelssohn sat down to play. After an elegant prelude, and with all possible advantage, John Edward heard his poor little air introduced as the subject of the evening. And having dwelt upon it, and adorned it in every graceful manner, Mendelssohn in his pretty, playful way, bowing to the composer, gave all the praise to him.
I suppose some of the charm of his speech might lie in the unusual choice of words which he as a German made in speaking English. He lisped a little. He used an action of nodding his head quickly till the long locks of hair would fall over his high forehead with the vehemence of his assent to anything he liked.
Sometimes he used to talk very seriously with my mother. Seeing that we brothers and sisters lived lovingly together and with our parents, he spoke about this to my mother, told her how he had known families where it was not so: and used the words 'You know not how happy you are.'
He was so far from any sort of pretension, or from making a favour of giving his music to us, that one evening when the family from a neighbouring house came to dinner, and we had dancing afterwards, he took his turn in playing quadrilles and waltzes with the others. He was the first person who taught us gallopades, and he first played us Weber's last waltz. He enjoyed dancing like any other young man of his age. He was then 20 years old. He had written his Midsummer Night's Dream [Overture] before that time. I well remember his playing it. He left Coed-du early in September 1829.
We saw Mr. Mendelssohn whenever he came to England, but the visits he made to us in London have not left so much impression upon me as that one at Coed-du did. I can however call to mind a party at my father's in Bedford Row where he was present. Sir George Smart was there also: when the latter was asked to play he said to my mother, 'No, no, don't call upon the old post-horse, when you have a high-mettled young racer at hand.' The end of it was a duet played by Sir George and Mr. Mendelssohn together. Our dear old master, Mr. Attwood, often met him at our house. Once he went with us to a ball at Mr. Attwood's at Norwood. Returning by daylight I remember how Mr. Mendelssohn admired the view of St. Paul's in the early dawn which we got from Blackfriars bridge. But the happiest visit to us was that one when he first brought his sweet young wife to see my mother. Madame Felix Mendelssohn was a bride then, and we all of us said he could not have found one more worthy of himself. And with the delightful remembrance of his happiness then, I will end these fragments.
His head was at this time full of music—the E♭ Violin Quartet (op. 12); an organ piece for Fanny's wedding; the Reformation Symphony, the Scotch Symphony, the Hebrides Overture, as well as vocal music, 'of which he will say nothing.' Other subjects however occupied even more of his letters than music. Such were a private plan for a journey to Italy in company with the parents and Rebecka, for which he enters into a little conspiracy with his sister; and a scheme for the celebration of his parents' silver wedding (Dec. 26, 1829) by the performance of three operettas (Liederspiel), his own 'Soldatenliebschaft,' a second to be written by Hensel and composed by Fanny, and the third an 'Idyll' by Klingemann and himself, which when once it entered his head rapidly took shape, and by the end of October appears to have been virtually complete.By Sept. 10 he was again in London, this time at 35, Bury Street, St. James's; on the 14th he finished and signed the E♭ Quartet, and on the 17th was thrown from a gig and hurt his knee, which forced him to keep his bed for nearly two months, and thus to miss not only a tour through Holland and Belgium with his father, but Fanny's wedding. Confinement to bed however does not prevent his writing home with the greatest regularity. On Sept. 22 he ends his letter with the first phrase of the Hebrides Overture—'aber zum Wiedersehen,
On Oct. 23 he informs them that he is beginning again to compose—and so on. He was nursed by Klingemann, and well cared for by Sir Lewis and Lady Moller, by Attwood, and Hawes, the musicians, the Goschens, and others. His first drive was on Nov. 6, when he found London 'indescribably beautiful.' A week later he went to Norwood to the Attwoods, then back to town for 'the fourteen happiest days he had ever known,' and on Nov. 29 was at Hotel Quillacq, Calais, on his road home. He reached Berlin to find the Hensels and the Devrients inhabiting rooms in the garden-house. His lameness still obliged him to walk with a stick; but this did not impede the mounting of his piece for the silver wedding, which came off with the greatest success on Dec. 26, and displayed an amount of dramatic ability which excited the desire of his friends that he should again write for the stage. The Liederspiel however was not enough to occupy him, and during this winter he composed a Symphony for the tercentenary festival of the Augsburg Confession, which was in preparation for June 25, 1830. This work, in the key of D, is that which we shall often again refer to as the 'Reformation Symphony.' He also wrote the fine Fantasia in F♯ minor (op. 28), which he called his 'Scotch Sonata'—a piece too little played. A Chair of Music was founded in the Berlin university this winter expressly with a view to its being filled by Mendelssohn. But on the offer being made he declined it, and at his instance Marx was appointed in his stead. There can be no doubt that he was right. Nothing probably could have entirely kept down Mendelssohn's ardour for composition; but it is certain that to have exchanged the career of a composer for that of a university teacher would have added a serious burden to the many occupations which already beset him, besides forcing him to exchange a pursuit which he loved and succeeded in, for one for which he had no turn—for teaching was not his forte.
The winter was over, his leg was well, and he was on the point of resuming his 'great journey' in its southern portion, when, at the end of March, 1830, both Rebecka and he were taken with the measles. This involved a delay of a month, and it was not till May 13 that he was able to start. His father accompanied him as far as Dessau, the original seat of the family, where he remained for a few days with his friend Schubring.
He travelled through Leipzig, Weissenfels, and Naumburg, and reached Weimar on the 20th. There he remained a fortnight in the enjoyment of the closest intercourse with Goethe and his family, playing and leading what he calls a mad life—Heidenleben. There his portrait was taken, which, though like, 'made him look very sulky,' and a copy of the score of the Reformation Symphony was made and sent to Fanny. On June 3 he took leave of Goethe for the last time, and went by Nuremberg to Munich, which he reached on June 6. At Munich he made a long halt, remaining till the end of the month; made the acquaintance of Josephine Lang, Delphine Schauroth, and other interesting persons, and was fêted to an extraordinary extent—'several parties every evening, and more pianoforte playing than I ever recollect'—all which must be read in the letter of Marx, and in his own delightful pages. On the 14th, her birthday, he sends Fanny a little Song without Words (Lied) in A, and on the 26th a much longer one in B♭ minor, which he afterwards altered, and published as Op. 30, No. 2. Both here and at Vienna he is disgusted at the ignorance on the part of the best players—Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven utterly ignored, Hummel, Field, Kalkbrenner, accepted as classics. He himself played the best music, and with the best effect, and his visit must have been an epoch in the taste of both places.
From Munich he went through the Salzkammergut, by Salzburg, Ischl, and the Traunsee, to Linz, and thence to Vienna, Aug. 13. Here he passed more than a month of the gayest life with Hauser the singer, Merk the cellist, the Pereiras, the Eskeles, and others, but not so gay as to interfere with serious composition—witness a cantata or anthem on 'O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden' (MS.), and an 'Ave Maria' for Tenor solo and 8 voices (op. 23, no. 2), both of this date. On Sept. 28 we find him at Presburg, witnessing the coronation of the Crown Prince Ferdinand as King of Hungary; then at Lilienfeld; and by Gratz, Udine, etc., he reached Venice on Oct. 9.
His stay in Italy, and his journey through Switzerland back to Munich, are so fully depicted in the first volume of his Letters, that it is only necessary to allude to the chief points. He went from Venice by Bologna to Florence, reaching it on Oct. 22, and remaining there for a week. He arrived in Rome on Nov. 1—the same day as Goethe had done, as he is careful to remark—and he lived there till April 10, at No. 5 Piazza di Spagna. The latter half of April and the whole of May were devoted to Naples (Sti. Combi, Sta. Lucia, No. 13, on the 3rd floor) and the Bay Sorrento, Ischia, Amalfi, etc. Here he met Benedict and renewed the acquaintance which they had begun as boys in Berlin in 1821, when Benedict was Weber's pupil. By June 5 he was back in Rome, and after a fortnight's interval set out on his homeward journey by Florence (June 24), Genoa, Milan (July 7–15), Lago Maggiore and the Islands, the Simplon, Martigny, and the Col de Balme, to Chamouni and Geneva. Thence on foot across the mountains to Interlaken; and thence by Grindelwald and the Furka to Lucerne, Aug. 27, 28. At Interlaken, besides sketching, and writing both letters and songs, he composed the only waltzes of which—strange as it seems in one so madly fond of dancing—any trace survives. At Lucerne he wrote his last letter to Goethe, and no doubt mentioned his being engaged in the composition of the Walpurgisnacht, which must have brought out from the poet the explanation of the aim of his poem which is printed at the beginning of Mendelssohn's music, with the date Sept. 9, 1831. Then, still on foot, he went by Wallenstadt and St. Gall to Augsburg, and returned to Munich early in September.
Into both the Nature and the Art of this extended and varied tract he entered with enthusiasm. The engravings with which his father's house was richly furnished, and Hensel's copies of the Italian masters, had prepared him for many of the great pictures; but to see them on the spot was to give them new life, and it is delightful to read his rapturous comments on the Titians of Venice and Rome, the gems in the Tribune of Florence, Guide's Aurora, and other masterpieces. His remarks are instructive and to the point; no vague generalities or raptures, but real criticism into the effect or meaning or treatment of the work; and yet rather from the point of view of an intelligent amateur than with any assumption of technical knowledge, and always with sympathy and kindness. Nor is his eye for nature less keen, or his enthusiasm less abundant. His descriptions of the scenery of Switzerland during the extraordinarily stormy season of his journey there, are worthy of the greatest painters or letter-writers. Some of his expressions rise to grandeur.
'It was a day,' says he, describing his walk over the Wengern Alp, 'as if made on purpose. The sky was flecked with white clouds floating far above the highest snow-peaks, no mists below on any of the mountains, and all their summits glittering brightly in the morning air, every undulation and the face of every hill clear and distinct.… I remembered the mountains before only as huge peaks. It was their height that formerly took such possession of me. Now it was their boundless extent that I particularly felt, their huge broad masses, the close connexion of all these enormous fortresses, which seemed to be crowding together and stretching out their hands to each other. Then too recollect that every glacier, every snowy plateau, every rocky summit was dazzling with light and glory, and that the more distant summits of the further ranges seemed to stretch over and peer in upon us. I do believe that such are the thoughts of God Himself. Those who do not know Him may here find Him and the nature which He has created, brought strongly before their eyes.' Other expressions are very happy:—'The mountains are acknowledged to be finest after rain, and to-day looked as fresh as if they had just burst the shell.' Again, in approaching Naples—'To me the finest object in nature is and always will be the sea. I love it almost more than the sky. I always feel happy when I see before me the wide expanse of waters.'
In Rome he devoted all the time that he could spare from work to the methodical examination of the place and the people. But his music stood first, and surely no one before or since was ever so self-denying on a first visit to the Eternal City. Not even for the sirocco would he give up work in the prescribed hours. His plan was to compose or practise till noon, and then spend the whole of the rest of the daylight in the open air. He enters into everything with enthusiasm—it is 'a delightful existence.' 'Rome in all its vast dimensions lies before him like an interesting problem, and he goes deliberately to work, daily selecting some different object—the ruins of the ancient city, the Borghese Gallery, the Capitol, St. Peter's, or the Vatican.' 'Each day is thus made memorable, and, as I take my time, each object becomes indelibly impressed upon me.… When I have fairly imprinted an object on my mind, and each day a fresh one, twilight has usually arrived, and the day is over.' Into society he enters with keen zest, giving and receiving pleasure wherever he goes, and 'amusing himself thoroughly and divinely.' 'His looking-glass is stuck full of visiting-cards, and he spends every evening with a fresh acquaintance.' His visits to Horace Vernet and Thorwaldsen, Santini's visits to him; the ball at Torlonia's, where he first saw the young English beauty, and that at the Palazzo Albani, where he danced with her; the mad frolics of the Carnival, the monks in the street (on whom he 'will one day write a special treatise'), the peasants in the rain, the very air and sunshine—all delight him in the most simple, healthy, and natural manner. 'Oh! if I could but send you in this letter one quarter of an hour of all this pleasure, or tell you how life actually flies in Rome, every minute bringing its own memorable delights.' On the other hand, he has no mercy on anything like affectation or conceit. He lashes the German painters for their hats, their beards, their dogs, their discontent, and their incompetence, just as he does one or two German musicians for their empty pretension. The few words which he devotes to Berlioz (who although always his good friend is antagonistic to him on every point) and his companion Montfort, are strongly tinged with the same feeling. On the other hand, nothing can be more genuinely and good-naturedly comic than his account of the attempt to sing Marcello's psalms by a company of dilettanti assisted by a Papal singer.
This sound and healthy habit of mind it is, perhaps, which excludes the sentimental—we might almost say the devotional—feeling which is so markedly absent from his letters. Strange that an artist who so enjoyed the remains of ancient Italy should have had no love of antiquity as such. At sight of Nisida he recalls the fact that it was the refuge of Brutus, and that Cicero visited him there. 'The sea lay between the islands, and the rocks, covered with vegetation, bent over it then just as they do now. These are the antiquities that interest me, and are much more suggestive than crumbling mason-work.' 'The outlines of the Alban hills remain unchanged. There they can scribble no names and compose no inscriptions … and to these I cling.' In reference to music the same spirit shows itself still more strongly in his indignation at the ancient Gregorian music to the Passion in the Holy Week services. 'It does irritate me to hear such sacred and touching words sung to such insignificant dull music. They say it is canto fermo, Gregorian, etc. No matter. If at that period there was neither the feeling nor the capacity to write in a different style, at all events we have now the power to do so'; and he goes on to suggest two alternative plans for altering and reforming the service, suggestions almost reminding one of the proposition in which the Empress Eugenie endeavoured to enlist the other Empresses and Queens of Europe, to pull down the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem and rebuild it in conformity with modern taste and requirements. Religious he is, deeply and strongly religious; every letter shows it. It is the unconscious, healthy, happy confidence of a sound mind in a sound body, of a man to whom the sense of God and Duty are as natural as the air he breathes or the tunes which come into his head, and to whom a wrong action is an impossibility. But of devotional sentiment, of that yearning dependence, which dictated the 130th Psalm, or the feeling which animates Beethoven's passionate prayers and confessions, we find hardly a trace, in his letters or his music.
He was very fortunate in the time of his visit to Rome. Pope Pius VIII. died while he was there, and He came in for all the ceremonies of Gregory XVI.'s installation, in addition to the services of Holy Week, etc. These latter he has described in the fullest manner, not only as to their picturesque and general effect, but down to the smallest details of the music, in regard to which he rivalled Mozart's famous feat. [See Miserere.] They form the subject of two long letters to Zelter, dated Dec. 1, 1830, and June 16, 1831; and as all the particulars had to be caught while he listened, they testify in the strongest manner to the sharpness of his ear and the retentiveness of his memory. Indeed it is impossible not to feel that in such letters as these he is on his own ground, and that intense as was his enjoyment of nature, painting, society, and life, he belonged really to none of these things—was 'neither a politician nor a dancer, nor an actor, nor a bel esprit, but a musician.' And so it proved in fact. For with all these distractions his Italian journey was fruitful in work. The 'Walpurgisnight,' the result of his last visit to Weimar, was finished, in its first form, at Milan (the MS. is dated 'Mailand, July 15, 1831'); the 'Hebrides,' also in its first form, is signed 'Rome, Dec. 16, 1830.' The Italian and Scotch Symphonies were begun and far advanced before he left Italy. Several smaller works belong to this period—the Psalm 'Non Nobis' (Nov. 16, 1830); the three church pieces which form op. 23; a Christmas Cantata, still in MS. (Jan. 28, 1831); the Hymn 'Verleih' uns Frieden' (Feb. 10); the 3 Motets for the nuns of the French Chapel: and although few, if any, of these minor pieces can be really said to live, yet they embody much labour and devotion, and were admirable stepping-stones to the great vocal works of his later life. In fact then, as always, he was what Berlioz calls him, 'un producteur infatigable,' and thus obtained that facility which few composers have possessed in greater degree than Mozart and himself. He sought the society of musicians. Besides Berlioz, Montfort, and Benedict, we find frequent mention of Baini, Donizetti, Coccia, and Madame Fodor. At Milan his encounter with Madame Ertmann, the intimate friend of Beethoven, was a happy accident, and turned to the happiest account. There too he met the son of Mozart, and delighted him with his father's Overtures to Don Juan and the Magic Flute, played in his own 'splendid orchestral style' on the piano. Not the least pleasant portions of his letters from Switzerland are those describing his organ-playing at the little remote Swiss churches at Engelberg, Wallenstadt, Sargans, and Lindau—from which we would gladly quote if space allowed.
Nor was his drawing-book idle. Between May 16 and August 24, 1831, 35 sketches are in the hands of one of his daughters alone, implying a corresponding number for the other portions of the tour. How characteristic of his enormous enjoyment of life is the following passage (Sargans, Sept. 3): 'Besides organ playing I have much to finish in my new drawing-book (I filled another completely at Engelberg); then I must dine, and eat like a whole regiment; then after dinner the organ again, and so forget my rainy day.'
The great event of his second visit to Munich was the production (and no doubt the composition) of his G minor Concerto, 'a thing rapidly thrown off,' which he played on Oct. 17, 1831, at a concert which also comprised his Symphony in C minor, his Overture to the Midsummer Night's Dream, and an extempore performance. Before leaving he received a commission to compose an opera for the Munich Theatre. From Munich he travelled by Stuttgart (Nov. 7) and Heidelberg to Frankfort, and thence to Düsseldorf (Nov. 27), to consult Immermann as to the libretto for the Munich opera, and arranged with him for one founded on The Tempest. The artistic life of Düsseldorf pleased him extremely, and no doubt this visit laid the foundation for his future connection with that town.
He arrived in Paris about the middle of December, and found, of his German friends, Hiller and Franck settled there. He renewed his acquaintance with the Parisian musicians who had known him as a boy in 1825, especially with Baillot; and made many new friends, Habeneck, Franchomme, Cuvillon, and others. Chopin, Meyerbeer, Herz, Liszt, Kalkbrenner, Ole Bull, were all there, and Mendelssohn seems to have been very much with them. He went a great deal into society and played frequently, was constantly at the theatre, and as constantly at the Louvre, enjoyed life thoroughly, saw everything, according to his wont, including the political scenes which were then more than ever interesting in Paris; knew everybody; and in fact, as he expresses it, 'cast himself thoroughly into the vortex.' His Overture to The Midsummer Night's Dream was performed at the Société des Concerts (Conservatoire) on Feb. 19, 1832, and he himself played the Concerto of Beethoven in G at the concert of March 18. His Reformation Symphony was rehearsed, but the orchestra thought it too learned, and it never reached performance. His Octet was played in church at a mass commemorative of Beethoven, and several times in private; so was his Quintet (with a new Adagio) and his Quartets, both for strings and for piano. The pupils of the Conservatoire, he writes, are working their fingers off to play 'Ist es wahr?' His playing was applauded as much as heart could wish, and his reception in all circles was of the very best.
On the other hand, there were drawbacks. Edward Ritz, his great friend, died (Jan. 23) while he was there; the news reached him on his birthday. Goethe too died (March 22). The rejection of his Reformation Symphony, the centre of so many hopes, was a disappointment 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 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 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 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 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 concert of Mori's. On Sunday, June 10, he played the organ at St. Paul's. He also published a four-hand arrangement of the M.N.D. Overture with Cramer, and the 1st Book of Songs without 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 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 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 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 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 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 two 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 such. The Moscheleses, Attwoods, Horsleys, and Alexanders are among the most prominent English names in the diaries and letters. Besides Malibran, Schröder-Devrient, Herz, and Hummel were among the foreign artists in London. On Aug. 4 the two left for Berlin, Abraham having announced that he was bringing home 'a young painter named Alphonse Lovie,' who, of course, was no other than Felix himself. They reached Berlin in due course, and by Sept. 27, 1833, Felix was at his new post.
Düsseldorf was the beginning of a new period in his career—of settled life away from the influences of home, which had hitherto formed so important an element in his existence. At Berlin both success and non-success were largely biassed by personal considerations; here he was to start afresh, and to be entirely dependent on himself. He began his new career with vigour. He first attacked the church music, and as 'not one tolerable mass' was to be found, scoured the country as far as Elberfeld, Cologne, and Bonn, and returned with a carriage-load of Palestrina, Lasso, and Lotti. Israel in Egypt, the Messiah, Alexander's Feast, and Egmont are among the music which we hear of at the concerts. At the theatre, after a temporary disturbance, owing to a rise in prices, and a little over-eagerness, he was well received and successful; and at first all was couleur de rose—'a more agreeable position I cannot wish for.' But he soon found that the theatre did not suit him; he had too little sympathy with theatrical life, and the responsibility was too irksome. He therefore, after a few months' trial, in March 1834, relinquished his salary as far as the theatre was concerned, and held himself free, as a sort of 'Honorary Intendant.' His influence however made itself felt. Don Juan, Figaro, Cherubini's Deux Journées, were amongst the operas given in the first four months; and in the church we hear of masses by Beethoven and Cherubini, motets of Palestrina's, and cantatas of Bach's, the Dettingen Te Deum, 'and on the whole as much good music as could be expected during my first winter.' He lived on the ground floor of Schadow's house, and was very much in the artistic circle, and always ready to make an excursion, to have a swim, to eat, to ride (for he kept a horse), to dance, or to sleep; was working hard at water-colour drawing, under Schirmer's tuition, and was the life and soul of every company he entered. In May was the Lower Rhine Festival at Aix-la-Chapelle, conducted by Ferdinand Ries; there he met Hiller, and also Chopin, whose acquaintance he had already made in Paris, and who returned with him to Düsseldorf. During the spring of 1834 he was made a member of the Berlin Academy of the Fine Arts.
Meantime, through all these labours and distractions, of pleasure or business alike, he was composing busily and well. The overture to Melusina was finished Nov. 14, 1833, and tried; the E♭ Rondo for P.F. and orchestra (op. 29) on Jan. 29, 1834; 'Infelice,' for soprano and orchestra, for the Philharmonic Society (in its first shape), is dated April 3, 34; the fine Capriccio in A minor (op. 33, no. i), April 9, 34. He had also rewritten and greatly improved the Meeresstille Overture for its publication by Breitkopfs with the M. N. D. and Hebrides. A symphony which he mentions as on the road appears to have been superseded by a still more important work. In one of his letters from Paris (Dec. 19, 1831), complaining of the low morale of the opera librettos, he says that if that style is indispensable he 'will forsake opera and write oratorios.' The words had hardly left his pen when he was invited by the Cäcilien-Verein of Frankfort to compose an oratorio on St. Paul. The general plan of the work, and such details as the exclusive use of the Bible and Choral-book, and the introduction of chorales, are stated by him at the very outset. On his return to Berlin he and Marx made a compact by which each was to write an oratorio-book for the other; Mendelssohn was to write 'Moses' for Marx, and Marx 'St. Paul' for Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn executed his task at once, and the full libretto, entitled 'Moses, an Oratorio, composed by A. B. M.,' and signed 'F. M. B., 21 Aug. 1832,' is now in the possession of the family. Marx, on the other hand, not only rejected Mendelssohn's book for 'Moses,' but threw up that of 'St. Paul' on the ground that chorales were an anachronism. In fact, this singular man's function in life seems to have been to differ with everybody. For the text of St. Paul, Mendelssohn was indebted to his own selection and to the aid of his friends Fürst and Schubring. Like Handel, he knew his Bible well; in his oratorios he followed it implicitly, and the three books of St. Paul, Elijah, and the Lobgesang are a proof (if any proof were needed after the Messiah and Israel in Egypt) that, in his own words, 'the Bible is always the best of all.' He began upon the music in March 1834, not anticipating that it would occupy him long; but it dragged on, and was not completed till the beginning of 1836.
Though only Honorary Intendant at the Düsseldorf theatre, he busied himself with the approaching winter season, and before leaving for his holiday corresponded much with Devrient as to the engagement of singers. September 1834 he spent in Berlin, and was back at Düsseldorf for the first concert on Oct. 23, calling on his way at Cassel, and making the acquaintance of Hauptmann, with whom he was destined in later life to be closely connected. The new theatre opened on Nov. i. He and Immermann quarrelled as to precedence, or as to the distribution of the duties. The selection of singers and musicians, the bargaining with them, and all the countless worries which beset a manager, and which, by a new agreement, he had to undertake, proved a most uncongenial and moreover a most wasteful task; so uncongenial that at last, the day after the opening of the theatre, he suddenly 'made a salto mortale' and threw up all connection with it, not without considerable irritability and inconsistency. After this he continued to do his other duties, and to conduct occasional operas, Julius Rietz being his assistant. With the spring [App. p.716 "opening"] of 1835 he received an invitation from Leipzig through Mr. Schleinitz, which resulted in his taking the post of Conductor of the Gewandhaus Concerts there. His answers to the invitation show not only how very careful he was not to infringe on the rights of others, but also how clearly and practically he looked at all the bearings of a question before he made up his mind upon it. Before the change, however, several things happened. He conducted the Lower Rhine Festival for 1835 at Cologne (June 7–9). The principal works were Handel's Solomon—for which he had written an organ part in Italy; Beethoven's Symphony No. 8, and Overture Op. 124, a 'religious march' and hymn of Cherubini's, and the Morning Hymn of his favourite J. F. Reichardt. The Festival was made more than ordinarily delightful to him by a present of Arnold's edition of Handel in 32 vols. from the committee. His father, mother, and sisters were all there. The parents then went back with him to Düsseldorf; there his mother had a severe attack of illness, which prevented his taking them home to Berlin till the latter part of July. At Cassel the father too fell ill, and Felix's energies were fully taxed on the road. He remained with them at Berlin till the end of August, and then left for Leipzig to make the necessary preparations for beginning the subscription concerts in the Gewandhaus on Oct. 4. His house at Leipzig was in Reichel's garden, off the Promenade. Chopin visited him during the interval, and Felix had the pleasure of introducing him to Clara Wieck, then a girl of 16. [App p.716 "His first introduction to Schumann is said to have taken place at Wieck's house on Oct. 3, the day before the Gewandhaus Concert at which Clara played Beethoven's B♭ trio. (Moscheles, Life, i. 301.)"] Later came his old Berlin friend David from Russia to lead the orchestra, and Moscheles from London for a lengthened visit. Mendelssohn's new engagement began with the best auspices. The relief from the worries and responsibilities of Düsseldorf was immense, and years afterwards he refers to it as 'when I first came to Leipzig and thought I was in Paradise.' He was warmly welcomed on taking his seat, and the first concert led off with his Meeresstille Overture.
Rebecka passed through Leipzig on Oct. 14, on her way from Belgium, and Felix and Moscheles accompanied her to Berlin for a visit of two days, returning to Leipzig for the next concert. Short as the visit was, it was more than usually gay. The house was full every evening, and by playing alternately, by playing four hands, and by the comical extempore tricks of which the two friends were so fond, and which they carried on to such perfection, the parents, especially the father, now quite blind, were greatly mystified and amused. And well that it was so, for it was Felix's last opportunity of gratifying the father he so tenderly loved and so deeply reverenced. At half-past 10 a.m. on Nov. 19, 1835, Abraham Mendelssohn was dead. He died the death of the just, passing away, as his father had done, without warning, but also without pain. He turned over in his bed, saying that he would sleep a little; and in half an hour he was gone. Hensel started at once for Leipzig, and by Sunday morning, the 22nd, Felix was in the arms of his mother. How deeply he felt under this peculiarly heavy blow the reader must gather from his own letters. It fell on him with special force, because he was not only away from the family circle, but had no home of his own, as Fanny and Rebecka had, to mitigate the loss. He went back to Leipzig stunned, but determined to do his duty with all his might, finish St. Paul, and thus most perfectly fulfil his father's wishes. He had completed the revision of his Melusina Overture on Nov. 17, only three days before the fatal news reached him, and there was nothing to hinder him from finishing the oratorio. [App. p.716 "He had played in Bach's Concerto in D minor for three pianos with Clara Wieck and Rakemann at the Gewandhaus on Nov. 9."]
The business of the day, however, had to go on. One of the chief events in this series of concerts was a performance of the 9th Symphony of Beethoven, Feb. 11, 1836. Another was Mendelssohn's performance of Mozart's D minor Concerto 'as written' (for it seems to have been always hitherto played after some adaptation), on Jan. 29, with cadences which electrified his audience. Leipzig was particularly congenial to Mendelssohn. He was the idol of the town, had an orchestra full of enthusiasm and devotion, a first-rate coadjutor in David, who took much of the mechanical work of the orchestra off his shoulders; and moreover he was relieved of all business arrangements, which were transacted by the committee, especially by Herr Schleinitz. Another point in which he could not but contrast his present position favourably with that at Düsseldorf was the absence of all rivalry or jealousy. The labour of the season however was severe, and he confesses that the first two months had taken more out of him than two years composing would do. The University of Leipzig showed its appreciation of his presence by conferring on him the degree of Phil. Doc. in March.
Meantime Schelble's illness had cancelled the arrangement for producing St. Paul at Frankfort, and it had been secured for the Lower Rhine Festival of 1836 at Düsseldorf. The Festival lasted from May 22 to May 24 inclusive, and the programmes included, besides the new oratorio, the two overtures to Leonore, both in C, 'No. 1' (then unknown) and 'No. 3'; one of Handel's Chandos anthems, the Davidde penitente of Mozart, and the Ninth Symphony. The oratorio was executed with the greatest enthusiasm, and produced a deep sensation. It was performed on the 22nd, not in the present large music hall, but in the long low room which lies outside of that and below it, and is known as the Rittersaal, a too confined space for the purpose. For the details of the performance, including an escapade of one of the false witnesses, in which the coolness and skill of Fanny alone prevented a break-down, we must refer to the contemporary accounts of Klingermann, Hiller, and Polko. To English readers the interest of the occasion is increased by the fact that Sterndale Bennett, then 20 years old, and fresh from the Royal Academy of Music, was present.
Schelble's illness also induced Mendelssohn to take the direction of the famous Cäcilien-Verein at Frankfort. Leipzig had no claims on him after the concerts were over, and he was thus able to spend six weeks at Frankfort practising the choir in Bach's 'Gottes Zeit,' Handel's 'Samson,' and other works, and improved and inspired them greatly. He resided in Schelble's house at the corner of the 'Schöne Aussicht,' with a view up and down the Main. Hiller was then living in Frankfort; Lindblad was there for a time; and Rossini remained for a few days on his passage through, in constant intercourse with Felix.
Mendelssohn's visit to Frankfort was however fraught with deeper results than these. It was indeed quite providential, since here he met his future wife, Cécile Charlotte Sophie Jeanrenaud, a young lady of great beauty, nearly ten years younger than himself, the second daughter of a clergyman of the French Reformed Church, who had died many years before, leaving his wife (a Souchay by family) and children amongst the aristocracy of the town. The house was close to the Fahrthor, on the quay of the Main. Madame Jeanrenaud was still young and good-looking, and it was a joke in the family that she herself was at first supposed to be the object of Mendelssohn's frequent visits. But though so reserved, he was not the less furiously in love, and those who were in the secret have told us how entirely absorbed he was by his passion, though without any sentimentality. He had already had many a passing attachment. Indeed, being at once so warm-hearted and so peculiarly attractive to women and also, it should be said, so much sought by them it is a strong tribute to his self-control that he was never before seriously or permanently involved. On no former occasion, however, is there a trace of any feeling that was not due entirely, or mainly, to some quality or accomplishment of the lady, and not to her actual personality. In the present case there could be no doubt either of the seriousness of his love or of the fact that it centred in Miss Jeanrenaud herself, and not in any of her tastes or pursuits. And yet, in order to test the reality of his feelings, he left Frankfort, at the very height of his passion, for a month's bathing at Scheveningen near the Hague. His friend F. W. Schadow, the painter, accompanied him, and the restless state of his mind may be gathered from his letters to Hiller. His love stood the test of absence triumphantly. Very shortly after his return, on Sept. 9, the engagement took place, at Kronberg, near Frankfort; three weeks of bliss followed, and on Oct. 2 he was in his seat in the Gewandhaus, at the first concert of the season. The day after, Oct. 3, in the distant town of Liverpool, 'St. Paul' was performed for the first tune in England, under the direction of Sir G. Smart. The season at Leipzig was a good one; Sterndale Bennett, who had come over at Mendelssohn's invitation, made his first public appearance in his own Concerto in C minor, and the series closed with the Choral Symphony.
His engagement soon became known far and wide, and it is characteristic of Germany, and of Mendelssohn's intimate relation to all concerned in the Gewandhaus, that at one of the concerts, the Finale to Fidelio, 'Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,' should have been put into the programme by the directors with special reference to him, and that he should have been forced into extemporising on that suggestive theme, amid the shouts and enthusiasm of his audience. The rehearsals for the concerts, the concerts themselves, his pupils, friends passing through, visits to his fiancée, an increasing correspondence, kept him more than busy. Bennett was living in Leipzig, and the two friends were much together. In addition to the subscription series and to the regular chamber concerts, there were performances of Israel in Egypt, with new organ part by him, on Nov. 7, and St. Paul, March 16, 1837. The compositions of this winter are few, and all of one kind, namely preludes and fugues for pianoforte. The wedding took place on March 28, 1837, at the Walloon French Reformed Church, Frankfort. For the wedding tour they went to Freiburg, and into the Palatinate, and by the 15th of May returned to Frankfort. A journal which they kept together during the honeymoon is full of sketches and droll things of all kinds. In July they were at Bingen, Horchheim, Coblenz, and Düsseldorf for some weeks. At Bingen, while swimming across to Asmannshausen, he had an attack of cramp which nearly cost him his life, and from which he was only saved by the boatman. The musical results of these few months were very important, and include the 42nd Psalm, the String Quartet in E minor, an Andante and Allegro for P.F. in E (still in MS.), the second P.F. Concerto, in D minor, and the 3 Preludes and Fugues for the Organ (op. 37). He was also in earnest correspondence with Schubring as to a second oratorio, on St. Peter.
It must have been hard to tear himself away so soon from his lovely young wife—and indeed he grumbles about it lustily—but he had been engaged to conduct St. Paul, and to play the organ and his new Pianoforte Concerto, at the Birmingham Festival. Accordingly, on Aug. 24, he left Düsseldorf for Rotterdam, crossed to Margate in the 'Attwood,' the same boat which had taken him over in 1829, and on the 27th is in London, on his fifth visit, at Klingemann's house, as cross as a man can well be. But this did not prevent his setting to work with Klingemann at the plan of an oratorio on Elijah, over which they had two mornings' consultation. Before leaving London for Birmingham, he played the organ at St. Paul's—on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 10—and at Christ Church, Newgate Street, on Tuesday morning, the 12th. It was on the former of these two occasions that the vergers, finding that the congregation would not leave the Cathedral, withdrew the organ-blower, and let the wind out of the organ during Bach's Prelude and Fugue in A minor—'near the end of the fugue, before the subject comes in on the Pedals.' At Christ Church he was evidently in a good vein. He played 'six extempore fantasias,' one on a subject given at themoment, and the Bach Fugue just mentioned. Samuel Wesley—our own ancient hero, though 71 years old—was present and played. It was literally his Nunc dimittis: he died in a month from that date. Mendelssohn's organ-playing on these occasions was eagerly watched. He was the greatest of the few great German organ-players who had visited this country, and the English organists, some of them no mean proficients, learned more than one lesson from him. 'It was not,' wrote Dr. Gauntlett, 'that he played Bach for the first time here,—several of us had done that. But he taught us how to play the slow fugue, for Adams and others had played them too fast. His words were, Your organists think that Bach did not write a slow fugue for the organ. Also he brought out a number of pedal-fugues which were not known here. We had played a few, but he was the first to play the D major, the G minor, the E major, the C minor, the short E minor,' etc. Even in those that were known he threw out points unsuspected before, as in the A minor Fugue, where he took the episode on the swell, returning to the Great Organ when the pedal re-enters, but transferring the E in the treble to the Great Organ a bar before the other parts, with very fine effect. This shows that with all his strictness he knew how to break a rule. One thing which particularly struck our organists was the contrast between his massive effects and the lightness of his touch in rapid passages. The touch of the Christ Church organ was both deep and heavy, yet he threw off arpeggios as if he were at a piano. His command of the pedal clavier was also a subject of much remark. But we must hasten on. On the evening of the Tuesday he attended a performance of his oratorio by the Sacred Harmonic Society at Exeter Hall. He had conducted three rehearsals, but could not conduct the performance itself, owing to the prohibition of the Birmingham committee. It was the first time he had heard St. Paul as a mere listener, and his private journal says that he found it 'very interesting.' His opinion of English amateurs may be gathered from his letter to the Society, with which his journal fully agrees. 'I can hardly express the gratification I felt in hearing my work performed in so beautiful a manner,—indeed, I shall never wish to hear some parts of it better executed than they were on that night. The power of the choruses—this large body of good and musical voices—and the style in which they sang the whole of my music, gave me the highest and most heartfelt treat; while I thought on the immense improvement which such a number of real amateurs must necessarily produce in the country which may boast of it.' On the Wednesday he went to Birmingham, and remained there, rehearsing and arranging, till the Festival began, Tuesday, 19th. At the evening concert of that day he extemporised on the organ, taking the subjects of his fugue from 'Your harps and cymbals' (Solomon), and the first movement of Mozart's Symphony in D, both of which had been performed earlier in the day; he also conducted his Midsummer Night's Dream Overture. On Wednesday he conducted St. Paul, on Thursday evening played his new Concerto in D minor, and on Friday morning, the 22nd, Bach's Prelude and Fugue ('St. Anne's') in E♭ on the organ. The applause throughout was prodigious, but it did not turn his head, or prevent indignant reflections on the treatment to which Neukomm had been subjected, reflections which do him honour. Moreover, the applause was not empty. Mori and Novello were keen competitors for his Concerto, and it became the prize of the former, at what we should now consider a very moderate figure, before its composer left Birmingham. He travelled up by coach, reaching London at midnight, and was intercepted at the coach-office by the committee of the Sacred Harmonic Society, who presented him with a large silver snuffbox, adorned with an inscription. He then went straight through, arrived in Frankfort on the 27th, and was at Leipzig at 2 p.m. of the day of the first concert, Sunday, Oct. 1. His house was in Lurgenstein's Garden, off the Promenade, the first house on the left, on the second floor. [App. p.716 "On Oct. 12, 1837, he writes to thank the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde of Vienna for diploma of membership. The letter is in their archives."]
The next few years were given chiefly to Leipzig. He devoted all his heart and soul to the Gewandhaus Concerts, and was well repaid by the increasing excellence of the performance and the enthusiasm of the audiences. The principal feature of the series 1837–8 was the appearance of Clara Novello for the first time in Germany—a fruit of his English experiences. She sang first at the concert of Nov. 2, and remained till the middle of January, creating an extraordinary excitement. But the programmes had other features to recommend them. In Feb. and March, 1838, there were four historical concerts (1. Bach, Handel, Gluck, Viotti; 2. Haydn, Cimarosa, Naumann, Righini; 3. Mozart, Salieri, Méhul, Romberg; 4. Vogler, Beethoven, Weber), which excited great interest. Mendelssohn and David played the solo pieces, and it is easy to imagine what a treat they must have been. In the programmes of other concerts we find Beethoven's 'Glorreiche Augenblick,' and Mendelssohn's own 42nd Psalm. His Serenade and Allegro giojoso (op. 43)—like his Ruy Blas Overture, a veritable impromptu—was produced on April 2, and his String Quartet in E♭ (op. 44, no. 3) on the following day.
His domestic life during the spring of 1838 was not without anxiety. On Feb. 7 his first son was born, afterwards named Carl Wolfgang Paul, and his wife had a very dangerous illness. This year he conducted the Festival at Cologne (June 3–6). He had induced the committee to include a Cantata of Bach's, then an entire novelty, in the programme, which also contained a selection from Handel's Joshua. A silver cup (Pokal) was presented to him at the close.
The summer was spent at Berlin, in the lovely garden of the Leipziger Strasse, and was his wife's first introduction to her husband's family. To Felix it was a time of great enjoyment and much productiveness. Even in the early part of the year he had not allowed the work of the concerts to keep him from composition. The String Quartet in E♭, just mentioned, the Cello Sonata in B♭ (op. 45), the 95th Psalm, and the Serenade and Allegro giojoso are all dated during the hard work of the first four months of 1838. The actual result of the summer was another String Quartet (in D; op. 44, no. 1), dated July 24, 38, and the Andante Cantabile and Presto Agitato in B (Berlin, June 22, 1838). The intended result is a symphony in B♭, which occupied him much, which he mentions more than once as complete in his head, but of which no trace on paper has yet been found. He alludes to it in a letter to the Philharmonic Society (Jan. 19, 1839)—answering their request for a symphony—as 'begun last year,' though it is doubtful if has occupations will allow him to finish it in time for the 1839 season. So near were we to the possession of an additional companion to the Italian and Scotch Symphonies! The Violin Concerto was also begun in this holiday, and he speaks of a Psalm (probably the noble one for 8 voices, 'When Israel'), a Sonata for P.F. and Violin (in F, still in MS.), and other things. He was now, too, in the midst of the tiresome correspondence with Mr. Planché, on the subject of the opera which that gentleman had agreed to write, but which, like Mendelssohn's other negotiations on the subject of operas, came to nothing; and there is the usual large number of long and carefully written letters. He returned to Leipzig in September, but was again attacked with measles, on the eve of a performance of St. Paul, on Sept. 15. The attack was sufficient to prevent his conducting the first of the Gewandhaus Concerts (Sept. 30) at which David was his substitute. On Oct. 7 he was again at his post. The star of this series was Mrs. Alfred Shaw, whose singing had pleased him very much when last in England; its one remarkable novelty was Schubert's great Symphony in C, which had been brought from Vienna by Schumann, and was first played in MS. on March 22 [App. p.716 "21"], 1839, at the last concert of the series. It was during this autumn that he received from Erard the Grand piano which became so well known to his friends and pupils, and the prospect of which he celebrates in a remarkable letter now in possession of that Firm.
Elijah is now fairly under way. After discussing with his friends Bauer and Schubring the subject of St. Peter, in terms which show how completely the requirements of an oratorio book were within his grasp, and another subject not very clearly indicated, but apparently approaching that which he afterwards began to treat as Christus—he was led to the contemplation of that most picturesque and startling of the prophets of the Old Testament, who, strange to say, does not appear to have been previously treated by any known composer. Hiller tells us that the subject was suggested by the passage (1 Kings xix. 11), 'Behold, the Lord passed by.' We may accept the fact more certainly than the date (1840) at which Hiller places it. Such a thing could not but fix itself in the memory, though the date might easily be confused. We have already seen that he was at work on the subject in the summer of 1837, and a letter to Schubring, dated Nov. 2, 38, shows that much consultation had already taken place upon it between Mendelssohn and himself, and that considerable progress had been made in the construction of the book of the oratorio. Mendelssohn had drawn up a number of passages and scenes in order, and had given them to Schubring for consideration. His ideas are dramatic enough for the stage! A month later the matter has made further progress, and his judicious dramatic ideas are even more confirmed; but the music does not seem to be yet touched. During the spring of 1839 he finished the 114th Psalm, and wrote the Overture to Ruy Blas. This, though one of the most brilliantly effective of his works, was, with a chorus for female voices, literally conceived and executed á l'improviste between a Tuesday evening and a Friday morning—a great part of both Wednesday and Thursday being otherwise occupied—and in the teeth of an absolute aversion to the play. The performance took place at the theatre on March 11. A letter to Hiller, written a month after this, gives a pleasant picture of his care for his friends. A great part of it is occupied with the arrangements for doing Hiller's oratorio in the next series of Gewandhaus Concerts, and with his pleasure at the appearance of a favourable article on him in Schumann's 'Zeitung,' from which he passes to lament over the news of the suicide of Nourrit, who had been one of his circle in Paris in 1831.
In May he is at Düsseldorf, conducting the Festival (May 19–21)—the Messiah, Beethoven's Mass in C, his own 42nd Psalm, the Eroica, etc. From this he went to Frankfort, to the wedding of his wife's sister Julie to Mr. Schunck of Leipzig, and there he wrote the D minor Trio; then to Horchheim, and then back to Frankfort. On Aug. 21 they were at home again in Leipzig, and were visited by the Hensels, who remained with them till Sept. 4, and then departed for Italy. Felix followed them with a long letter of hints and instructions for their guidance on the journey, not the least characteristic part of which is the closing injunction to be sure to eat a salad of brocoli and ham at Naples, and to write to tell him if it was not good.
The summer of 1839 had been an unusually fine one; the visit to Frankfort and the Rhine had been perfectly successful; he had enjoyed it with that peculiar capacity for enjoyment which he possessed, and he felt 'thoroughly refreshed.' He went a great deal into society, but found none so charming as that of his wife. A delightful picture of part of his life at Frankfort is given in a letter to Klingemann of Aug. 1, and still more so in one to his mother. Nor was it only delightful. It urged him to the composition of part-songs for the open air, a kind of piece which he made his own, and wrote to absolute perfection. The impulse lasted till the end of the winter, and many of his best part-songs—including 'Love and Wine,' 'The Hunter's Farewell,' 'The Lark'—date from this time. In addition to these the summer produced the D minor Trio already mentioned, the completion of the 114th Psalm, and some fugues for the organ, one of which was worked into a sonata, while the others remain in MS.
On Oct. 2 his second child, Marie, was born. Then came the christening, with a visit from his mother and Paul, and then Hiller arrived. He had very recently lost his mother, and nothing would satisfy Mendelssohn but that his friend should come and pay him a long visit, partly to dissipate his thoughts, and partly to superintend the rehearsals of his oratorio of Jeremiah the Prophet, which had been bespoken for the next series of Gewandhaus Concerts. Hiller arrived early in December, and we recommend his description of Mendelssohn's home life to any one who wishes to know how simply and happily a great and busy man can live. Leipzig was proud of him, his wife was very popular, and this was perhaps the happiest period of his life. His love of amusement was as great as ever, and his friends still recollect his childish delight in the Cirque Lajarre and Paul Cousin the clown.
The concert season of 1839–40 was a brilliant one. For novelties there were symphonies by Kalliwoda, Kittl, Schneider, and Vogler. Schubert's 9th was played no less than three times, and one concert was rendered memorable by a performance of Beethoven's four Overtures to Leonora-Fidelio. Mendelssohn's own 114th Psalm was first performed 'sehr glorios' on New Year's Day, and the new Trio on Feb. 10. The Quartet Concerts were also unusually brilliant. At one of them Mendelssohn's Octet was given, he and Kalliwoda playing the two violas; at another he accompanied David in Bach's Chaconne, then quite unknown. Hiller's oratorio was produced on April 2 with great success. Ernst, and, above all, Liszt, were among tbe virtuosos of this season; and for the latter of these two great players Mendelssohn arranged a soirée at the Gewandhaus, which he thus epitomises—'350 people, orchestra, chorus, punch, pastry, Meeresstille, Psalm, Bach's Triple Concerto, choruses from St. Paul, Fantasia on Lucia, the Erl King, the devil and his grandmother'; and which had the effect of somewhat allaying the annoyance which had been caused by the extra prices charged at Liszt's concerts.
How, in the middle of all this exciting and fatiguing work (of which we have given but a poor idea), he found time for composition, and for his large correspondence, it is impossible to tell, but he neglected nothing. On the contrary, it is precisely during this winter that he translates for his uncle Joseph, his father's elder brother—a man not only of remarkable business power but with considerable literary ability—a number of difficult early Italian poems intoGerman verse. They consist of three sonnets by Boccaccio, one by Dante, one by Cino, one by Cecco Angioleri, an epigram of Dante's, and another of Alfani's. They are printed in the recent editions of the letters, and are accompanied by a letter dated Feb. 20, 1840, describing half-humorously, half-pathetically, the difficulty which the obscurities of the originals had given him amid all his professional labours. With irrepressible energy he embraced the first moment of an approach to leisure, after what he describes as a 'really overpowering turmoil,' to write a long and carefully-studied official communication to the Kreis-Director, or Home Minister of Saxony, urging that a legacy recently left by a certain Herr Blümner should be applied to the formation of a solid music academy at Leipzig. This was business; but, in addition, during all these months there are long letters to Hiller, Chorley, his mother, Fanny, Paul, and Fürst (and remember that only a small part of those which he wrote has been brought within our reach); and yet he managed to compose both the Lobgesang and the Festgesang for the Festival in commemoration of the invention of Printing, which was held in Leipzig on June 25, the former of which is as characteristic and important a work as any in the whole series of his compositions. The music for both these was written at the express request of the Town Council, acting through a committee whose chairman was Dr. Raymond Härtel, and the first communication with Mendelssohn on the subject was made about the end of the previous July. We know from Mendelssohn himself that the title 'Symphonie Cantata' is due to Klingemann, but the words are probably Mendelssohn's own selection, no trace of any communication with Schubring, Bauer, or Fürst being preserved in the published letters or recollections, and the draft of the words having vanished.
The Festival extended over two days, Wednesday and Thursday, June 24 and 25. On Tuesday evening there was a 'Vorfeier' in the shape of an opera by Lortzing, 'Hans Sachs,' composed for the occasion. At 8 a.m. on Wednesday was a service in the church with a cantata by Richter (of Zittau), followed by the unveiling of the printing press and statue of Gutenberg, and by a performance in the open market-place of Mendelssohn's Festgesang for two choirs and brass instruments, he conducting the one chorus and David the other. On Thursday afternoon a concert was held in St. Thomas's Church, consisting of Weber's Jubilee Overture, Handel's Dettingen Te Deum, and Mendelssohn's Lobgesang.
Hardly was this over when he went to Schwerin with his wife, to conduct St. Paul and other large works, at a Festival there (July 8–10). On the way back they stopped in Berlin for 'three very pleasant days.' Another matter into which at this time he threw all his devotion was the erection of a monument to Sebastian Bach in front of his old habitat at the 'Thomas School.' The scheme was his own, and he urged it with characteristic heartiness. But dear as the name and fame of Bach were to him, he would not consent to move till he had obtained (from the town council) an increase to the pay of the orchestra of the Gewandhaus Concerts. For this latter object he obtained 500 thalers, and on Aug. 10 gave an organ performance solissimo in St. Thomas's church, by which he realised 300 thalers. Even this he would not do without doing his very best, and he describes to his mother how he had practised so hard for a week before 'that he could hardly stand on his feet, and the mere walking down the street was like playing a pedal passage.' After such a six months no wonder that his health was not good, and that his 'physician wanted to send him to some Brunnen instead of a Musical Festival.' To a Festival, however, he went. The Lobgesang had not escaped the attention of the energetic Mr. Moore, who managed the music in Birmingham, and some time before its first performance he had written to Mendelssohn with the view of securing it for the autumn meeting. On July 21 Mendelssohn writes in answer, agreeing to come, and making his stipulations as to the other works to be performed. It was his sixth visit to England.
There was a preliminary rehearsal of the work in London under Moscheles's care. Mendelssohn arrived on Sept. 8, visited all his London friends, including the Alexanders, Horsleys, Moscheles, and Klingemann (with whom he stayed, at 4 Hobart Place, Pimlico), went down to Birmingham with Moscheles, and stayed with Mr. Moore. On Tuesday he played a fugue on the organ; on Wednesday, the 23rd, conducted the Lobgesang, and after it was over, and the public had left the hall, played for three-quarters of an hour on the organ. The same day he played his G minor Concerto at the evening concert. On Thursday, after a selection from Handel's Jephthah, he again extemporised on the organ, this time in public. The selection had closed with a chorus, the subjects of which he took for his improvisation, combining 'Theme sublime' with 'Ever faithful' in a masterly manner. On his return to town—on Sept. 30—he played the organ at St. Peter's, Cornhill—Bach's noble Prelude and Fugue in E minor, his own in C minor (op. 37, no. 1) and F minor, the latter not yet published—
and other pieces, concluding with Bach's Passacaglia. Of this last he wrote a few bars as a memento, which still ornament the vestry of the church. He had intended to give a Charity Concert during his stay in London, after the Festival, but it was too late in the season for this, and he travelled from London with Chorley and Moscheles in the mail coach to Dover; then an 8-hours' passage to Ostend, and by Liége and Aix-la-Chapelle to Leipzig. It was Moscheles's first introduction to Cécile.
The concerts had already begun, on Oct. 4, but he took his place at the second. The Lobgesang played a great part in the musical life of Leipzig this winter. It was performed at the special command of the King of Saxony at an extra concert in October. Then Mendelssohn set to work to make the alterations and additions which the previous performances had suggested to him, including the scene of the watchman, preparatory to a benefit performance on Dec. 3; and lastly it was performed at the 9th Gewandhaus Concert, on Dec. 17, when both it and the Kreutzer Sonata were commanded by the King and the Crown Prince of Saxony. The alterations were so serious and so universal as to compel the sacrifice of the whole of the plates engraved for the performance at Birmingham. Now, however, they were final, and the work was published by Breitkopf & Härtel early in the following year. Before leaving this we may say that the scene of the watchman was suggested to him during a sleepless night, in which the words 'Will the night soon pass?' incessantly recurred to his mind. Next morning he told Mr. Schleinitz that he had got a new idea for the Lobgesang.
With 1841 we arrive at a period of Mendelssohn's life when, for the first time, a disturbing antagonistic element beyond his own control was introduced into it, depriving him of that freedom of action on which he laid such great stress, reducing him to do much that he was disinclined to, and to leave undone much that he loved, and producing by degrees a decidedly unhappy effect on his life and peace. From 1841 began the worries and troubles which, when added to the prodigious amount of his legitimate work, gradually robbed him of the serene happiness and satisfaction which he had for long enjoyed, and in the end, there can be little doubt, contributed to his premature death. Frederick William IV, to whom, as Crown Prince, Mendelssohn dedicated his three Concert-overtures in 1834, had succeeded to the throne of Prussia on June 7, 1840; and being a man of much taste and cultivation, one of his first desires was to found an Academy of Arts in his capital, to be divided into the four classes of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, and Music, each class to have its Director, who should in turn be Superintendent of the whole Academy. In music it was proposed to connect the class with the existing establishments for musical education, and with others to be formed in the future, all under the control of the Director, who was also to carry out a certain number of concerts every year, at which large vocal and instrumental works were to be performed by the Royal orchestra and the Opera company. Such was the scheme which was communicated to Mendelssohn by Herr von Massow, on Dec. 11, 1840, with an offer of the post of Director of the musical class, at a salary of 3000 thalers (£450). Though much gratified by the offer, Mendelssohn declined to accept it without detailed information as to the duties involved. That information, however, could only be afforded by the Government Departments of Science, Instruction, and Medicine, within whose regulation the Academy lay, and on account of the necessary changes and adjustments would obviously require much consideration. Many letters on the subject passed between Mendelssohn, his brother Paul, Herr von Massow, Heir Eichhorn the Minister, Klingemann, the President Verkenius, from which it is not difficult to see that his hesitation arose from his distrust of Berlin and of the official world which predominated there, and with whom he would in his directorship be thrown into contact at every turn. He contrasts, somewhat captiously perhaps, his freedom at Leipzig with the trammels at Berlin; the devoted, excellent, vigorous orchestra of the one with the careless perfunctory execution of the other. His radical, roturier spirit revolted against the officialism and etiquette of a great and formal Court, and he denounces in distinct terms 'the mongrel doings of the capital—vast projects and poor performances; the keen criticism and the slovenly playing; the liberal ideas and the shoals of subservient courtiers; the Museum and Academy, and the sand.'
To leave a place where his sphere of action was so definite, and the results so unmistakeably good, as they were at Leipzig, for one in which the programme was vague and the results at best problematical, was to him more than difficult. His fixed belief was that Leipzig was one of the most influential and Berlin one of the least influential places in Germany in the matter of music; and this being his conviction (rightly or wrongly) we cannot wonder at his hesitation to forsake the one for the other. However, the commands of a king are not easily set aside, and the result was that by the end of May 1841 he was living in Berlin, in the old home of his family—to his great delight.
His life at Leipzig during the winter of 1840–41 had been unusually laborious. The interest of the Concerts was fully maintained; four very interesting programmes, occupied entirely by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, and involving a world of consideration and minute trouble, were given. He himself played frequently; several very important new works by contemporaries—including symphonies by Spohr, Maurer, and Kalliwoda, and the Choral Symphony, then nearly as good as new—were produced, after extra careful rehearsals; and the season wound up with Bach's Passion. In a letter to Chorley of March 15 he calls his spring campaign 'the most troublesome and vexatious' he had ever known; 'nineteen concerts since Jan. 1, and seven more to come, with at least three rehearsals a week all through.' The amount of general business and correspondence, due to the constant rise in his fame and position, was also alarmingly on the increase. In a letter to his mother, Jan. 25, he tells of 35 letters written in two days, and of other severe demands on his time, temper, and judgment. And when we remember what his letters often are—the large quarto sheet of 'Bath paper,' covered at least on three sides, often over the flaps of the fourth, the close straight lines, the regular, extraordinarily neat writing, the air of accuracy and precision that pervades the whole down to the careful signature and the tiny seal—we shall not wonder that with all this, added to the Berlin worries, he composed little or nothing. 'I have neither read nor written in the course of this music-mad winter,' says he, and accordingly, with one exception, we find no composition with a date earlier than the latter part of April 1841. The exception was a pianoforte duet in A, which he wrote expressly to play with his friend Madame Schumann, at her concert on March 31. It is dated Leipzig, March 23, 1841, and was published after his death as op. 92. As the pressure lessens, however, and the summer advances, he breaks out with some songs, with and without words, and then with the '17 Serious Variations ' (June 4), going on, as his way was, in the same rut, with the variations in E♭ (June 25) and in B♭. It was known before he left Leipzig that it was his intention to accept the Berlin post for a year only, and therefore it seemed natural that the 'Auf Wiedersehen' in his Volkslied, 'Es ist bestimmt,' should be rapturously cheered when sung by Schröder-Devrient to his own accompaniment, and that when serenaded at his departure with the same song he should himself join heartily in its closing words. He took his farewell, as we have said, with a performance of Bach's Passion, in St. Thomas's church, on Palm Sunday, April 4, and the appointment of Kapellmeister to the King of Saxony followed him to Berlin.
For some time after his arrival there matters did not look promising. But he had bound himself for a year. Many conferences were held, at which little was done but to irritate him. He handed in his plan for the Musical Academy, received the title of Kapellmeister to the King of Prussia, the life in the lovely garden at the Leipziger Strasse reasserted its old power over him, and his hope and spirits gradually returned. He was back in Leipzig for a few weeks in July, as we find from his letters, and from an Organ prelude in C minor, a perfectly strict composition of 38 bars, written 'this morning' (July 9), on purpose for the album of Mr. Dibdin of Edinburgh. He then began work in Berlin. The King's desire was to revive some of the ancient Greek tragedies. He communicated his idea to Tieck, the poet, one of the new Directors; the choice fell on the Antigone of Sophocles, in Donner's new translation; and by Sept. 9 Mendelssohn was in consultation with Tieck on the subject. He was greatly interested with the plan, and with the novel task of setting a Greek drama, and worked at it with the greatest enthusiasm. By the 28th of the same month he had made up his mind on the questions of unison, melodrama, etc. The first full stage rehearsal took place on the 22nd, and the performance itself at the Neue Palais at Potsdam on the 28th Oct., with a repetition on Nov. 6. Meantime he had taken a house of his own opposite the family residence. A temporary arrangement had been made for the Gewandhaus Concerts of this winter to be conducted by David, and they began for the season on that footing. Mendelssohn however ran over for a short time, after the second performance of Antigone, and conducted two of the series, and the concert for the benefit of the orchestra, returning to Berlin for Christmas.
On Jan. 10, 1842, he began a series of concerts by command of the king, with a performance of St. Paul in the concert-room of the theatre; but, if we may believe Devrient, there was no cordial understanding between him and the band; the Berlin audiences were cold, and he was uncomfortable. 'A prophet hath no honour in his own country.' It must, however, have been satisfactory to see the hold which his Antigone was taking both in Leipzig and Berlin, in each of which it was played over and over again to crowded houses. During the winter he completed the Scotch Symphony, which is dated Jan. 20, 1842. His sister's Sunday concerts were extraordinarily brilliant this season, on account not only of the music performed, but of the very distinguished persons who frequented them; Cornelius, Thorwaldsen, Ernst (a constant visitor), Pasta, Madame Ungher-Sabatier, Liszt, Böckh, Lepsius, Mrs. Austin, are specimens of the various kinds of people who were attracted, partly no doubt by the music and the pleasant réunion, partly by the fact that Mendelssohn was there. He made his escape to his beloved Leipzig for the production of the Scotch Symphony, on March 3, but though it was repeated a week later, he appears to have returned to Berlin. He once more, and for the last time, directed the Düsseldorf Festival, on May 15–17; and passing on to London, for his seventh visit, with his wife, conducted his Scotch Symphony at the Philharmonic, amid extraordinary applause and enthusiasm, on June 13, and played his D minor Concerto there on the 27th, and conducted the Hebrides, which was encored. The Philharmonic season wound up with a fish dinner at Greenwich, given him by the directors. On the 12th he revisited St. Peter's, Cornhill. It was Sunday, and as he came in the congregation were singing a hymn to Haydn's well-known tune. This he took for the subject of his voluntary, and varied and treated it for some time extempore in the happiest and most scientific manner. On the 16th he paid a third visit to Christ Church, Newgate Street, and it was possibly on that occasion that he played an extempore fantasia on Israel in Egypt which positively electrified those who heard it. He also again treated Haydn's Hymn, but this time as a fantasia and fugue, entirely distinct from his performance of four days previous. On the 17th, at a concert of the Sacred Harmonic Society at Exeter Hall, mostly consisting of English Anthems, he played the organ twice; first, Bach's so-called 'St. Anne's' Fugue, with the great Prelude in E♭, and, secondly, an extempore introduction and variations on the Harmonious Blacksmith, ending with a fugue on the same theme. After this he and his wife paid a visit to their cousins in Manchester, with the intention of going on to Dublin, but were deterred by the prospect of the crossing. During the London portion of this visit they resided with his wife's relations, the Beneckes, on Denmark Hill. He was very much in society, where he always enjoyed himself extremely, and where his wife was much admired; and amongst other incidents described in his letters to his mother are two visits to Buckingham Palace, the first in the evening of June 20, and the second on the afternoon of July 9, which show how thoroughly the Queen and Prince Consort appreciated him. On the latter occasion he obtained Her Majesty's permission to dedicate the Scotch Symphony to her. They left on July 10, and by the middle of the month were safe at Frankfort, in the midst of their relatives, 'well and happy,' and looking back on the past month as a 'delightful journey.' August was devoted to a tour in Switzerland, he and Paul, with their wives. Montreux, Interlaken, the Oberland, the Furka, Meiringen, the Grimsel, are all mentioned. He walked, composed, and 'sketched furiously'; visited the old scenes, found the old landladies and old guides, always glad to see him; his health was perfect, his mood gay, and all was bright and happy, save when the spectre of a possible prolonged residence in Berlin intruded its unwelcome form. On Sept. 3 they were at Zürich, on the 5th, 6th, and 7th at the Rigi and Lucerne. While at Zürich he visited the Blind Institution, spent two hours in examining the compositions of the pupils, praised and encouraged them, and finished by extemporising on the piano at great length. On his return, he stayed for a gay fortnight at Frankfort. Hiller, Charles Halle, and their wives were there, and there was much music made, and a great open-air fête at the Sandhof, with part-songs, tableaux vivants, etc., etc. A very characteristic and beautiful letter to Simrock, the publisher, urging him to accept some of Killer's compositions (an appeal promptly responded to by that excellent personage), dates from this time. So well was the secret kept that Hiller never knew of it till the publication of the letter in 1863.
An anecdote of this period may be new to some of our readers. During the summer the King of Prussia had conferred on Mendelssohn, in company with Liszt, Meyerbeer, and Rossini, the great honour of the 'Ordre pour le Merité,' and the order itself reached him at Frankfort. He set no store by such distinctions, nor perhaps was its Berlin origin likely to increase the value of this particular one. Shortly after it arrived he was taking a walk with a party of friends across the bridge at Offenbach. One of them (Mr. Speyer) stayed behind to pay the toll for the rest. 'Is not that,' said the tollkeeper, 'the Mr. Mendelssohn whose music we sing at our society?' 'It is.' 'Then, if you please, I should like to pay the toll for him myself.' On rejoining the party, Mr. Speyer told Mendelssohn what had happened. He was enormously pleased. 'Hm, said he, I like that better than the Order.'
He took Leipzig on his way to Berlin, and conducted the opening concert of the Gewandhaus series on Oct. 2, amid the greatest enthusiasm of his old friends. A week later and he was in Berlin, and if anything could show how uncongenial the place and the prospect were, it is to be found in his letter to Hiller, and even in the Italian jeu d'esprit to Hiller's wife. It is as if his very teeth were set on edge by everything he sees and hears there. Nor were matters more promising when he came to close quarters. A proposition was made to him by the minister, immediately after his arrival that he should act as superintendent of the music of the Protestant Church of Prussia, a post at once vague and vast, and unsuited to him. At the same time it was now evident that the plans for the organisation of the Academy had failed, and that there was no present hope of any building being erected for the music school. Under these circumstances, anxious more on his mother's account than on his own not to leave Berlin in disgrace, in fact ready to do anything which should keep him in connection with the place where she was, he asked and obtained a long private interview with the King, in which His Majesty expressed his intention of forming a choir of about 30 first-rate singers, with a small picked orchestra, to be available for church music on Sundays and Festivals, and to form the nucleus of a large body for the execution of grand musical works. Of this, when formed, he desired Mendelssohn to take the command, and to write the music for it; meantime he was to be at liberty to live where he chose, and—his own stipulation—to receive half the salary previously granted. The King evidently had the matter very closely at heart. He was, says Mendelssohn, quite flushed with pleasure, could hardly contain himself, and kept repeating 'You can scarcely think now of going away.' When kings ask in this style it is not for subjects to refuse them. Moreover Mendelssohn was as much attracted by the King as he was repelled by the official etiquette of his ministers, and it is not surprising that he acceded, to the request. The interview was followed up by a letter from His Majesty dated Nov. 23, containing an order constituting the Domchor or Cathedral choir, conferring on Mendelssohn the title of General-Music-Director, with a salary of 1500 thalers, and giving him the superintendence and direction of the church and sacred music as his special province.
This involved his giving up acting as Capellmeister to the King of Saxony, and for that purpose he had an interview with that monarch at Dresden, in which he obtained the King's consent to the application of the Blümner legacy to his darling scheme of a Conservatorium at Leipzig.
Thus then 'this long, tedious, Berlin business' was at length apparently brought to an end, and Mendelssohn was back in his beloved Leipzig, and with a definite sphere of duty before him in Berlin, for he had learnt in the meantime that he was at once to supply the King with music to Racine's Athalie, the Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, and Œdipus Coloneus. This, with the proofs of the Scotch Symphony and Antigone to correct, with the Walpurgisnight to complete for performance, the new Conservatorium to organise, the concerts, regular and irregular, to rehearse and conduct, and a vast and increasing correspondence to be kept up, was enough for even his deft and untiring pair of hands. He is cheerful enough under it, and although he complains in one letter that composition is impossible, yet in the next letter Athalie, Œdipus, the Midsummer Night's Dream, the Walpurgisnight, and the new Cello Sonata are beginning again to fill his brain, and he finds time to be pleasant over old Madame Schröder, and to urge the claims of his old Meiringen guide to a place in Murray's Handbook. In the midst of all this whirl he lost his mother, who died in the same rapid and peaceful manner that his father had done. She was taken ill on the Sunday evening—her husband's birthday and died before noon on Monday Dec. 12—so quickly that her son's letter of the 11th cannot have reached her. The loss affected him less violently than that of his father had done, perhaps because he was now older and too hard-worked, and also because of the home-life and ties by which he was surrounded. But it caused him keen suffering, from which he did not soon recover. It brings into strong relief his love of the family bond, and his fear lest the disappearance of the point of union should at all separate the brothers and sisters; and he proposes, a touching offer for one whose pen was already so incessantly occupied, that he should write to one of the three every week, and the communication be thus maintained with certainty.
The house now became his, but the hesitation with which he accepts his brother's proposal to that effect, lest it should not be acceptable to his sisters or their husbands, is eminently characteristic of his delicate and unselfish generosity. He admits that his mother's death has been a severe trial, and then he drops an expression which shows how heavily the turmoil of so busy a life was beginning to press upon him:—'in fact everything that I do and carry on is a burden to me, unless it be mere passive existence.' This may have been the mere complaint of the moment, but it is unlike the former buoyant Mendelssohn. He was suffering too from what appears to have been a serious cough. But work came to his relief; he had some scoring and copying to do which, though of the nature of
'The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics numbing pain,'
yet had its own charm—'the pleasant intercourse with the old familiar oboes and violas and the rest, who live so much longer than we do, and are such faithful friends,' and thus kept him from dwelling on his sorrow. And there was always so much in the concerts to interest and absorb him. The book of Elijah too was progressing fast, and his remarks on it show how anxious he was to make it as dramatic as possible. And he still clung, though as fastidiously as ever, to the hope of getting an opera-book. A long letter in French to M. Charles Duveyrier, dated Jan. 4, 1843, discusses the merits of the story of Jeanne d'Arc for the purpose, and decides that Schiller's play has preoccupied the ground. [App. p.716 "At this time he rewrote 'Infelice,' the second published version of which is dated Leipzig, Jan. 15, 1843."]
At the concert of Feb. 2, 1843, the Walpurgisnight was produced, in a very different condition from that in which it was performed at Berlin just 10 years before, in Jan. 1833. He had rewritten the score 'from A to Z,' amongst other alterations had added two fresh airs, and had at length brought it into the condition in which it is now so well known and so much liked. On Jan. 12 a Symphony in C minor, by Gade, of Copenhagen, was rehearsed. It interested Mendelssohn extremely, and gave him an opportunity to write a letter full of sympathy and encouragement to the distant and unknown composer, one of those letters which were native to him, but which are too seldom written, and for more of which the world would be all the better. The work was produced on March 2, amid extraordinary applause. Berlioz visited Leipzig at this time, and gave a concert of his compositions. Mendelssohn and he had not met since they were both at Rome, and Berlioz was foolish enough to suppose that some raillery of his might be lurking in Mendelssohn's memory, and prevent his being cordially welcomed. But he was soon undeceived. Mendelssohn wrote at once offering him the room and the orchestra of the Gewandhaus, on the most favourable terms, and asking him to allow one of his works to be played at the approaching concert (Feb. 22) for the Benefit of the Orchestra. An account of the whole, with copious souvenirs of their Roman acquaintance (not wholly uncoloured), will be found in Berlioz's 'Voyage musical,' in the letter to Heller. It is enough here to say that the two composer-conductors exchanged batons, and that if Berlioz did not convert Leipzig, it was not for want of an amiable reception by Mendelssohn and David. On March 9 an interesting extra concert was given under Mendelssohn's direction, to commemorate the first subscription concert, in 1743. The first part of the programme contained compositions by former Cantors, or Directors of the Concerts—Doles, Bach, J. A. Hiller, and Schicht, and by David, Hauptmann, and Mendelssohn (114th Psalm). The second part consisted of the Choral Symphony.
Under the modest title of the Music School the prospectus of the Conservatorium was issued on Jan. 16, 1843, with the names of Mendelssohn, Hauptmann, David, Schumann, Pohlenz, and C. F. Becker as the teachers; the first trial was held on March 27, and on April 3 it was opened in the buildings of the Gewandhaus. Thus one of Mendelssohn's most cherished wishes was at last accomplished. A letter on the subject to Moscheles, dated April 30, is worth notice as showing how practical his ideas were on business matters, and how sound his judgment. On Sunday, April 23, he had the satisfaction of conducting the concert at the unveiling of the monument to Sebastian Bach, which he had originated, and for which he had worked so earnestly. The programme consisted entirely of Bach's music, in which Mendelssohn himself played a concerto. Then the monument was unveiled, and the proceedings ended with Bach's 8-part motet 'Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied.' Such good services were appropriately acknowledged by the Town Council with the honorary freedom of the city (Ehrenbürgerrecht).
About this time he made the acquaintance of Joseph Joachim, who came to Leipzig from Vienna as a boy of 12, attracted by the fame of the new music school, and there began a friendship which grew day by day, and only ended with Mendelssohn's death.
On May 1 his fourth child, Felix, was born. On account no doubt partly of his wife's health, partly also of his own—for it is mentioned that he was seriously unwell at the dedication of the Bach monument—but chiefly perhaps for the sake of the Conservatorium, he took no journey this year, and, excepting a visit to Dresden to conduct St. Paul, remained in Leipzig for the whole summer. How much his holiday was interfered with by the tedious, everlasting affair of Berlin—orders and counter-orders, and counter-counter-orders—may be seen from his letters, though it is not necessary to do more than allude to them. By the middle of July he had completed the Midsummer Night's Dream music, had written the choruses to Athalie, and made more than a start with the music to Œdipus, and some progress with a new Symphony; had at the last moment, under a pressing order from Court, arranged the chorale 'Herr Gott, dich loben wir' (Te Deum) for the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the empire, 'the longest chorale and the most tedious job he had ever had,' and had also, a still harder task, answered a long official letter on the matter of his post, which appeared to contradict all that had gone before, and cost him (in his own words) 'four thoroughly nasty, wasted, disagreeable days.'
He therefore went to Berlin early in August, and on the 6th conducted the music of the anniversary; returned to Leipzig in time to join his friend Madame Schumann in her husband's lovely Andante and Variations for 2 Pianofortes at Madame Viardot's concert on Aug. 19, and on Aug. 25 was pursued thither by orders for a performance of Antigone, and the production of the Midsummer Night's Dream and Athalie in the latter half of September. At that time none of the scores of these works had received his final touches; Athalie indeed was not yet scored at all, nor was a note of the overture written. Then the performances are postponed, and then immediately resumed at the former dates; and in the end Antigone was given on Sept. 19, in the Neue Palais at Potsdam, and the Midsummer Night's Dream at the same place—after 11 rehearsals—on Oct. 14, and on the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st at the King's Theatre in Berlin. The music met with enthusiastic applause each time; but the play was for long a subject of wonder to the Berliners. Some disputed whether Tieck or Shakspeare were the author; others believed that Shakspeare had translated it from German into English. Some, in that refined atmosphere, were shocked by the scenes with the clowns, and annoyed that the King should have patronised so low a piece; and a very distinguished personage expressed to Mendelssohn himself his regret that such lovely music should have been wasted on so poor a play—a little scene which he was very fond of mimicking.—Antigone procured him the honour of membership of the Philologen-versammlung of Cassel.
Mendelssohn's position at Berlin had now apparently become so permanent that it was necessary to make proper provision for filling his place at the Leipzig concerts, and accordingly Ferdinand Hiller was engaged to conduct them during his absence. The first of the series was on Oct. 1. Hiller conducted, and Felix supported his friend by playing his G minor Concerto. Two days afterwards, on Oct. 3, he writes a long communication to the town council of Leipzig, praying for an increase in the salaries of the town-orchestra for their services at the theatre. On Oct. 30 he joined Mad. Schumann and Hiller in the triple concerto of Bach; on Nov. 18 there was a special farewell concert at which he played his new Cello Sonata (op. 58), and which closed with his Octet, he and Gade taking the two viola parts; and by Nov. 25 he had left Leipzig 'with wife and children, and chairs and tables, and piano and everything,' and was in Berlin, settled in the old family house, now his own. On the 30th he conducted the first of the weekly subscription concerts, which he and Taubert directed alternately, and at which he often played. With all his aversion to the Berlin musicians he was obliged to acknowledge that, in some respects at least, the orchestra was good. 'What pleases me most,' he says to his old friend and confidant David, 'are the Basses, because they are what I am not so much accustomed to. The 8 cellos and 4 good double-basses give me sometimes great satisfaction with their big tone.' Then came performances of the Midsummer Night's Dream music, of Israel in Egypt, entertainments and dinners—which amused him notwithstanding all his dislike to aristocrats—and Fanny's Sunday performances. Once immersed in life and music, and freed from official correspondence and worries, he was quite himself. 'He is,' says his sister, 'indescribably dear, in the best of tempers, and quite splendid, as you know he can be in his best times. Every day he astonishes me, because such quiet intercourse as we are having is a novelty to me now, and he is so versatile, and so original and interesting on every subject, that one can never cease to wonder at it.' His favourite resort during his later Berlin life was the house of Professor Wichmann the sculptor, in the Hasenjäger (now Feilner) Strasse. Wichmann's wife was a peculiarly pleasant artistic person, and their circle included Magnus the painter, Taubert, Werder, Count Redern, and other distinguished people, many of them old friends of Mendelssohn's. There, in 1844, he first met Jenny Lind. The freedom of the life in this truly artistic set, the many excursions and other pleasures, delighted and soothed him greatly.
Christmas was kept royally at his house; he was lavish with presents, of which he gives Rebecka (then in Italy) a list. A very characteristic Christmas gift to a distant friend was the testimonial, dated Berlin, Dec. 17, 1843, which he sent to Sterndale Bennett for use in his contest for the professorship at Edinburgh, and which, as it does credit to both these great artists, and has never been published in any permanent form, we take leave to print entire, in his own English.
Berlin, Dec. 17, 1843.
My Dear Friend,
I hear that you proclaimed yourself a Candidate for the musical Professorship at Edinburgh, and that a testimonial which I might send could possibly be of use to you with the Authorities at the University. Now while I think of writing such a testimonial for you I feel proud and ashamed at the same time—proud, because I think of all the honour you have done to your art your country, and yourself, and because it is on such a brother-artist that I am to give an opinion—and ashamed because I have always followed your career, your compositions, your successes, with so true an interest, that I feel as if it was my own cause, and as if I was myself the Candidate for such a place. But there is one point of view from which I might be excused in venturing to give still an opinion, while all good and true musicians are unanimous about the subject: perhaps the Council of the University might like to know what we German people think of you, how we consider you. And then, I may tell them, that if the prejudice which formerly prevailed in this country against the musical talent of your Country has now_ subsided, it is chiefly owing to you, to your compositions, to your personal residence in Germany. Your Overtures, your Concertos, your vocal as well as instrumental Compositions, are reckoned by our best and severest authorities amongst the first standard works of the present musical period. The public feel never tired in listening to, while the musicians feel never tired in performing, your Compositions; and since they took root in the minds of the true amateurs, my countrymen became aware that music is the same in England as in Germany, as everywhere; and so by your successes here you destroyed that prejudice which nobody could ever have destroyed but a true Genius. This is a service you have done to English as well as German musicians, and I am sure that your countrymen will not acknowledge it less readily than mine have already done.
Shall I still add, that the Science in your works is as great as their thoughts are elegant and fanciful—that we consider your performance on the Piano as masterly as your Conducting of an Orchestra? that all this is the general judgment of the best musicians here, as well as my own personal sincere opinion? Let me only add that I wish you success from my whole heart, and that I shall be truly happy to hear that you have met with it.
Always yours, sincerely and truly,
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.
To W. Sterndale Bennett, Esq.
His exertions for his friend did not stop at this testimonial, but led him to write several long letters pressing his claims in the strongest terms, the drafts of which will be found in the 'green books' at Leipzig. The professorship, however, was not bestowed on Mr. Bennett.
The compositions of the winter were chiefly for the Cathedral, and include the fine setting of the 98th Psalm (op. 91) for 8-part choir and orchestra, for New Year's Day, 1844; the 2nd Psalm, for Christmas, with chorales and 'Sprüche,' and pieces 'before the Alleluja'; also the 100th Psalm, the 43rd ditto, and the 22nd, for Good Friday, for 8 voices, each with its 'Spruch' or anthem—and 7 psalm-tunes or chorales with trombones. At these great functions the church was so full that not even Fanny Hensel could get a place. The lovely solo and chorus, 'Hear my prayer,' for voices and organ, belongs to this time. It is dated Jan. 25, 1844, and was written for Mr. Bartholomew, the careful and laborious translator of his works into English, and sent to him in a letter dated Jan. 31. Also the duets 'Maiglöckchen,' 'Volkslied,' and 'Herbstlied' (op. 63, nos. 6, 5, and 4), and many songs, with and without words. The concerts finished with a magnificent performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony on March 27, and on Palm Sunday (March 31) Israel in Egypt was sung in St. Peter's church. The rehearsals for these two difficult works, new to Berlin, had been extremely troublesome and fatiguing.
At the end of February he received a letter from the Philharmonic Society of London, offering him an engagement as Conductor of the last six concerts of the season. He looked forward with delight to an artistic position 'of such tremendous distinction,' and which promised him the opportunity of doing a service to a Society to which he felt personally indebted; and on March 4 he writes 'with a feeling of true gratitude' accepting for five concerts. Meantime the old annoyances and heartburnings at Berlin had returned. Felix had been requested by the King to compose music to the Eumenides of Æschylus, and had replied that the difficulties were immense, and perhaps insuperable, but that he would try; and in conversation with Tieck he had arranged that as the work could only be given in the large new opera-house, which would not be opened till Dec. 15, it would be time enough for him to write his music and decide whether it was worthy of performance, after his return from England. Notwithstanding this, he received, as a parting gift, on April 28, a long, solemn, almost scolding, letter from Bunsen, based on the assumption that he had refused to undertake the task, and expressing the great disappointment and annoyance of the King. No wonder that Mendelssohn's reply, though dignified, was more than warm. It appeared to him that some person or persons about the Court disbelieved in the possibility of his writing the music, and had pressed their own views on the King as his, and he was naturally and justifiably angry. A dispute with the subscribers to the Symphony Concerts, where he had made an innovation on ancient custom by introducing solos, did not tend to increase his affection for Berlin.
His presence was necessary on Easter Day (April 7) in the Cathedral, but by the end of the month he had left Berlin with his family. On May 4 they were all at Frankfort, and by the 10th or 11th he himself was settled in London at Klingemann's house, 4 Hobart Place. This was his eighth visit. He conducted the Philharmonic Concert of May 13, and each of the others to the end of the series, introducing, besides works already known, his own Midsummer Night's Dream music, and the Walpurgisnight, as well as Beethoven's Overture to Leonora, No. 1, the Ruins of Athens, Bach's Suite in D, Schubert's Overture to Fierrabras, and playing Beethoven's Concerto in G (June 24), then almost a novelty to an English audience. He had brought with him Schubert's Symphony in C, and Gade's in C minor, and his own Overture to Ruy Blas. But the reception of the two first at the trial by the band was so cold, not to say insulting, as to incense him beyond measure. With a magnanimity in which he stands alone among composers, he declined to produce his own Overture, and it was not publicly played in England till after his death.
With the directors of the Philharmonic his intercourse was most harmonious. 'He attended their meetings, gave them advice and assistance, and showed the warmest interest in the success of the concerts and the welfare of the Society.' By the band he was received with 'rapture and enthusiasm.' And if during the earlier concerts one or two of the players acted in exception to this, the occurrence only gave Mendelssohn the opportunity of showing how completely free he was from rancour or personal feeling. No wonder that the band liked him. The band always likes a conductor who knows what he is about. His beat, though very quiet, was certain, and his face was always full of feeling, and as expressive as his baton. There are some of the players still remaining who recollect it well. No one perhaps ever possessed so completely as he the nameless magic art of inspiring the band with his own feeling; and this power was only equalled by his tact and good-nature. It is still remembered that he always touched his hat on entering the orchestra for rehearsal. He was sometimes hasty, but he always made up for it afterwards. He would run up and down to a distant desk over and over again till he had made the meaning of a difficult passage clear to a player. If this good nature failed, or he had to deal with obstinacy, as a last resource he would try irony—sometimes very severe. Such pains and tact as this is never thrown away. The band played as if under a new influence. The season was most successful in a pecuniary sense; Hanover Square Rooms had never been so crammed; as much as 120 guineas were taken on single nights in excess of the usual receipts; and whereas in 1842 the loss had been £300, in 1844 nearly £400 were added to the reserve fund. Among the events which combined to render this series of concerts historical were the first appearances of Ernst (April 15), Joachim (May 27), and Piatti (June 24). His playing of the Beethoven G major Concerto on June 24 was memorable, not only for the magnificence of the performance, but for some circumstances attending the rehearsal on the previous Saturday. He had not seen the music of the concerto for two or three years, and 'did not think it respectful to the Philharmonic Society to play it without first looking through it'—those were his words. He accordingly called at Sterndale Bennett's on the Friday night to obtain a copy, but not succeeding, got one from Miss Horsley after the rehearsal on the Saturday. At the rehearsal itself, owing to some difficulty in the band coming in at the end of his cadence in the first movement, he played it three times over, each time quite extempore, and each time new, and at the performance on the Monday it was again different.
In addition to the Philharmonic, Mendelssohn took part in many other public concerts—conducted St. Paul for the Sacred Harmonic Society on June 28 and July 5, extemporised at the British Musicians, played his own D minor Trio, and his Duet Variations (op. 83), and took part twice in Bach's Triple Concerto—once (June 1) with Moscheles and Thalberg, when he electrified the room with his sudden improvisation in the cadence, and again (July 5) with Moscheles and Dohler. He also finished a scena for bass voice and orchestra, to words from Ossian—'On Lena's gloomy heath,' which he undertook at the request of Mr. H. Phillips in 1842, and which that gentleman sang at the Philharmonic, March 15, 1847. On June 12 he and Dickens met for the first time. On June 18 he is at Manchester, writing to Mr. Hawes, M.P. to secure a ticket for the House of Commons. Piatti he met for the first time during this visit, at Moscheles's house, and played with him his new Duo in D. No one had a quicker eye for a great artist, and he at once became attached to the noble player who has now made London his winter home, and is so much admired by all frequenters of the Monday Popular Concerts. One of his latest words on leaving England for the last time was, 'I must write a concerto for Piatti.' In fact, he had already composed the first movement. The enthusiasm for him in London was greater than ever, and all the more welcome after the irritations of Berlin. He was more widely known at each visit, and every acquaintance became a friend. He never enjoyed himself more than when in the midst of society, music, fun, and excitement. 'We have the best news from Felix,' says Fanny during this visit, 'and when I tell you that he has ordered a large Baum-Kuchen [a peculiar Berlin cake, looking like a piece of the trunk of a tree] to be sent to London for him, you will know that that is the best possible sign.' 'A mad, most extraordinarily mad time,' says he, 'I never had so severe a time before—never in bed till half past one; for three weeks together not a single hour to myself in any one day,' etc. 'My visit was glorious. I was never received anywhere with such universal kindness, and have made more music in these two months than I do elsewhere in two years.' But even by all this he was not to be kept from work. He laboured at his edition of Israel in Egypt for the Handel Society; and on official pressure from Berlin—which turned out to be mere vexation, as the work was not performed for more than a year—actually, in the midst of all the turmoil, wrote the Overture to Athalie, the autograph of which is dated June 13, 1844. Very trying! and very imprudent, as we now see! but also very difficult to avoid. And his power of recovery after fatigue was as great as his power of enjoyment, so great as often no doubt to tempt him to try himself. Three things were in his favour—his splendid constitution; an extraordinary power of sleep, which he possessed in common with many other great men, and of being lazy when there was nothing to do; and most of all that, though excitable to any amount, he was never dissipated. The only stimulants he indulged in were those of music, society, and boundless good spirits.
On July 10 he left London, and on the 13th was in the arms of his wife and children at Soden, near Frankfort. During his absence they had been seriously ill, but his wife had kept the news from him, and when he returned he found them all well, brown, and hearty. For the life of happy idleness which he passed there in the next two months—'eating and sleeping, without dress coat, without piano, without visiting cards, without carriage and horses, but with donkeys, with wild flowers, with music-paper and sketch-book, with Cécile and the children'—interrupted only by the Festival which he conducted at Zweibrücken on July 31 and Aug. 1, the reader must be referred to his own charming letters. 'Idleness' does not mean ceasing to compose, so much as composing only when he had a mind to it. And that was often; he had no piano, but he completed the Violin Concerto on Sept. 16, after a long and minute correspondence with David, and many of the movements of the six organ sonatas appear in the MS. Catalogue, with dates ranging from July 22 to Sept. 10. Doubtless, too, he was working at the book of 'Christus,' a new oratorio, the first draft of which he had received from Bunsen on Easter Monday of this year. At this time also he arranged a collection of organ pieces by Bach for the firm of Coventry & Hollier, by whom they were published in London in the summer of 1845. The pleasure in his simple home life which crops out now and then in these Frankfort letters, is very genuine and delightful. Now, Marie is learning the scale of C, and he has actually forgotten how to play it, and has taught her to pass her thumb under the wrong finger! Now, Paul tumbles about so as to crack their skulls as well as his own. Another time he is dragged off from his letter to see a great tower which the children have built, and on which they have ranged all their slices of bread and jam—'a good idea for an architect.' At ten Carl comes to him for reading and sums, and at five for spelling and geography—and so on. 'And,' to sum up, 'the best part of every pleasure is gone if Cécile is not there.' His wife is always somewhere in the picture.
But the time arrived for resuming his duties at Berlin, and, leaving his family behind him at Frankfort, he arrived there on Sept. 30, alone, and took up his quarters with the Hensels. We are told that before leaving in the spring he had firmly resolved not to return for a permanence; and the extraordinary warmth and brilliancy of his subsequent reception in England, both in public and in social circles, and the delights, of freedom in Frankfort, when compared with the constraint and petty annoyances of Berlin—the difficulty of steering through those troubled official waters, the constant collisions with the Singakademie, with the managers of the theatre, the clergy, the King, and the ministers; the want of independence, the coldness of the press, the way in which his best efforts appeared to be misunderstood and misrepresented, and above all the consciousness that he was at the head of a public musical institution of which he did not approve—all these things combined to bring about the crisis. His dislike to the place and the way in which it haunts him beforehand, is really quite plaintive in its persistence—'If I could only go on living for half a year as I have lived the last fortnight (Soden, Aug. 15) what might I not get through? But the constant arrangement and direction of the concerts, and the exertion of it all, is no pleasure to me, and comes to nothing after all.' So he once more communicated with the King, praying to be freed from all definite duties, and from all such commissions as would oblige him to reside in Berlin. To this the King good-naturedly assented; his salary was fixed at 1000 thalers, and he was free to live where he liked. It is easy to understand what a blow this was to his sister, but it was evidently the only possible arrangement for the comfort of the chief person concerned. 'The first step out of Berlin' was to him 'the first step to happiness.' He remained till the end of November, at the special wish of the King, to conduct a few concerts and a performance of St. Paul (Nov. 25), and the time was taken advantage of by Lvoff to commission Hensel to paint a portrait of him, which has been engraved by Caspar, but can hardly be called a favourable likeness. On the 30th he left Berlin amid regret and good wishes, but the coldness of the ordinary musical circles towards him was but too evident.
Very early in December he was in Frankfort, where he found his youngest boy Felix dangerously ill: the child recovered, but only after being in great danger for many weeks. It was probably a relief in the very midst of his trouble to write a long letter to Mr. Macfarren (Dec. 8), giving him minute directions as to the performance of Antigone at Covent Garden. His own health began to give him anxiety, and his resolution was to remain in Frankfort for the whole year and have a thorough rest. He had always good spirits at command, and looked well, and would rarely confess to any uneasiness. But when hard pressed by those with whom he was really intimate, he confessed that his head had for some months past been in constant pain and confusion. 'I myself am what you know me to be; but what you do not know is that I have for some time felt the necessity for complete rest—not travelling, not conducting, not performing—so keenly that I am compelled to yield to it, and hope to be able to order my life accordingly for the whole year. It is therefore my wish to stay here quietly through winter, spring, and summer, sans journeys, sans festivals, sans everything.' This resolve he was able to carry out for some months of 1845, even to resisting a visit to Leipzig when his Violin Concerto was first played by David, on March 13; and his letters to his sisters show how thoroughly he enjoyed the rest.
Antigone was brought out at Covent Garden on Jan. 2, 1845, under the management of M. Laurent, the orchestra conducted by Mr. (now Professor) Macfarren. Musically its success was not at first great, owing to the inadequate way in which the chorus was put on the stage. Writing to his sister at Rome on March 25, Mendelssohn says, 'See if you cannot find Punch for Jan. 18. It contains an account of Antigone at Covent Garden, with illustrations, especially a view of the chorus which has made me laugh for three days. The Chorus-master, with his plaid trowsers shewing underneath, is a masterpiece, and so is the whole thing, and most amusing. I hear wonderful things of the performance, particularly of the chorus. Only fancy, that during the Bacchus chorus there is a regular ballet with all the ballet-girls!' A woodcut which made Mendelssohn laugh for three days has ipso facto become classical, and needs no apology for its reproduction.
The play improved after a short time, and the fact that it ran for 45 nights (Jan. 2–Feb. 1, Feb. 8–21), and that the management applied to him for his Oedipus, proves that it was appreciated. His letters show how much work he was doing at this time. By April 20 the six Organ Sonatas (op. 65) were in the hands of the copyist, the C minor Trio was finished—'a trifle nasty (eklig) to play, but not really difficult—seek and ye shall find'; and the splendid String Quintet in B♭ (dated July 8). The sixth book of Songs without Words was shortly to be published, and dedicated to Klingemann's fiancée; a symphony was well in hand (oh that we had got it!), and the book of Elijah progressing steadily, no doubt urged by the invitation (dated Sept. 1, 1844) which he had received to conduct the Birmingham Festival in 1846. Conduct the whole he could not, the labour would be too great, but he replied that he would conduct his own music as before. Nor had the desire to write an opera by any means left him, 'if only the right material could be found.' He had not forgotten his promise to consider the possibility of setting the choruses of the Eumenides of Æschylus with effect, and a correspondence had taken place between him and the Geheimcabinetsrath Müller, in which, in reply to something very like an offensive innuendo, Mendelssohn stated that in spite of strenuous efforts he had utterly failed to see any way of carrying out the commission to his own 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 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.
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, 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 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 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 can I.' But in addition to the work of his classes, a great deal of miscellaneous work fell upon him as virtual head of the School. Minute lists of the attendance and conduct of the pupils, drawn up by him, still remain to attest the thorough way in which he did his duty, and we have Moscheles's express testimony that during the overwhelming work of this summer he never neglected his pupils. But it was another ounce added to his load. The fixed labour, the stated hours, when combined with his composition, his correspondence, his hospitality, and all his other pursuits, was too much, and to his intimate friends he complained bitterly of the strain, and expressed his earnest wish to give up all work and worry, and devote himself entirely to his Art—in his own words, to shut himself into his room and write music till he was tired, and then walk out in the fresh air.
Meantime Elijah was fast becoming a realised fact: by May 23, 1846, the first Part was quite finished, and six or eight numbers of the second Part written, and a large portion despatched to London to be translated by Mr. Bartholomew and Klingemann. 'I am jumping about my room for joy,' he writes to a very dear friend on the completion of Part I. 'If it only turns out half as good as I fancy it is, how pleased I shall be!' And yet, much as the oratorio engrossed him, he was corresponding with Mad. Birch-Pfeiffer about an opera, and writes to the same friend as if the long-desired libretto were virtually within his grasp. At this date he interrupted his work for three weeks to conduct a succession of performances on the Rhine—at Aix-la-Chapelle, the Festival, May 31 to June 2; at Düsseldorf, a soirée; at Liége, on Corpus Christi day, June 11, his hymn 'Lauda Sion,' composed expressly for that occasion, and dated Feb. 10, 1846; and at Cologne the first festival of the German-Flemish association, for which he had composed a Festgesang on Schiller's poem 'an die Künstler' (op. 68). His reception throughout this tour was rapturous, and delighted him. The three weeks were one continued scene of excitement. Every moment not taken up in rehearsing or performing made some demand on his strength. He was in the highest spirits all the time, but the strain must have been great, arid was sure to be felt sooner or later. It will all be found in a delightful letter to Fanny of June 27, 1846. On June 26 he is again at Leipzig, writing to Moscheles to protest against the exclusion from the band at Birmingham of some musicians who had been impertinent to him at the Philharmonic in 1844. The summer was unusually hot, and his friends well remember how exhausted he often became over his close work. But he kept his time. The remainder of the Oratorio was in Mr. Bartholomew's hands by the latter part of July; the instrumental parts were copied in Leipzig and rehearsed by Mendelssohn there on Aug. 5. One of the last things he did before leaving was to give his consent to the publication of some of Fanny's compositions, which, owing to his 'tremendous reverence for print,' he had always opposed, and now only agreed to reluctantly. He arrived in London, for the ninth time, on the evening of Aug. 18, had a trial rehearsal with piano at Moscheles's house, two band-rehearsals at Hanover Square, went down to Birmingham on Sunday the 23rd, had full rehearsals on Monday morning and Tuesday evening, and the Oratorio was performed on the morning of Wednesday the 26th. The Town Hall was densely crowded, and it was observed that the sun burst forth and lit up the scene as Mendelssohn took his place, amid a deafening roar of applause from band, chorus, and audience. Staudigl was the Elijah, and Mr. Lockey sang the air 'Then shall the righteous' in a manner which called forth Mendelssohn's warmest praise. 'No work of mine'—says he in the long letter which he wrote his brother the same evening—'no work of mine ever went so admirably at the first performance, or was received with such enthusiasm both by musicians and the public, as this.' 'I never in my life heard a better performance—no nor so good, and almost doubt if I can ever hear one like it again.' No less than four choruses and four airs were encored. The applause at the conclusion of both first and second parts was enormous—almost grotesquely so; and an old member of the band well remembers the eagerness with which Mendelssoln shook hands with all who could get near him in the artist's room, thanking them warmly for the performance. [App. p.717 "As a reminiscence it may be mentioned that the holding C's for the oboe in the recitative of the Youth, in no. 19, were put in at the end of the first rehearsal, on Mr. Grattan Cooke's complaining that Mendelssohn had given him no solos."] He returned to London with Mr. and Mrs. Moscheles, 'on purpose for a fish dinner at Lovegrove's,' spent four days at Ramsgate with the Beneckes 'to eat crabs,' and on Sept. 6 recrossed the Channel with Staudigl. His visit this time had been one of intense hard work, as any one who knows what it is to achieve the first performance of a great work for solos, chorus, and orchestra, will readily understand. And the strain was unremitting, for, owing partly to Moscheles's illness, he had no relaxation, or next to none. In consequence he was so tired as to be compelled to rest three times between Ostend and Leipzig. It is a sad contrast to the buoyancy of the similar journey ten years before.
But notwithstanding the success of the Oratorio the reader will hardly believe that he himself was satisfied with his work. Quite the contrary. His letter to Klingemann of Dec. 6 shows the eagerness with which he went about his corrections; and the alterations were so serious as to justify our enumerating the chief of them:—The chorus 'Help, Lord!' (No. 1), much changed; the end of the double quartet (No. 7), rewritten; the scene with the widow (No. 8) entirely recast and much extended; the chorus 'Blessed are the men' (No. 9), rescored; the words of the quartet 'Cast thy burden' (No. 15), new; the soprano air 'Hear ye' (No. 21), added to and reconstructed; in the Jezebel scene a new chorus, 'Woe to him' (No. 24), in place of a suppressed one, 'Do unto him as he hath done,' and the recitative 'Man of God' added; the trio 'Lift thine eyes' (No. 28) was originally a duet, quite different; Obadiah's recitative and air (No. 25) are new; the chorus 'Go return,' and Elijah's answer (No. 36) are also new. The last chorus (No. 42) is entirely rewritten to fresh words, the text having formerly been 'Unto Him that is able,' etc. The omissions are chiefly a movement of 95 bars, alla breve, to the words 'He shall open the eyes of the blind,' which formed the second part of the chorus 'Thus saith the Lord' (No. 41), and a recitative for tenor 'Elijah is come already and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed,' with which Part 2 of the oratorio originally opened. In addition to these more prominent alterations there is hardly a movement throughout the work which has not been more or less worked upon.
The oratorio was then engraved, and published by Simrock of Berlin in July 1847. Meantime Mendelssohn had been again reminded of his duties at Berlin by an urgent command from the King to set the German Liturgy to music. This (still in MS.), and an anthem or motet (published as op. 79, no. 5), both for double choir, are respectively dated Oct. 28 and Oct. 5, 1846. A song for the Germans in Lyons—dear to him as the birthplace of his wife—and a Psalm-tune for the French Reformed Church in Frankfort, are dated the 8th and 9th of the same month. On Oct. 21 the Moscheleses arrive at Leipzig, and Moscheles begins his duties as Professor of Pianoforte-playing and Composition.—Gade again conducted the Gewandhaus Concerts for this season. A trace of Mendelssohn's interest in them remains in a P.F. accompaniment to the E major Violin Prelude of Bach, which he evidently wrote for David's performance at the Concert of Nov. 12, 1846. The MS. is dated the day before, and is amongst David's papers. During October and November he was very much occupied with the illness of his faithful servant Johann Krebs, to whom he was deeply attached—'mein braver guter Diener' as he calls him—and whose death, on Nov. 23, distressed him much. It was another link in the chain of losses which was ultimately to drag him down. Fortunately he had again, as at the time of his mother's death, some mechanical work to which he could turn. This time it was the comparison of the original autograph parts of Bach's grand mass with his score of the same work. As time went on, however, he was able to apply himself to more independent tasks, and by Dec. 6 was again hard at work on the alterations of Elijah. Since the middle of October he had been in communication with Mr. Lumley, then lessee of Her Majesty's Theatre, London, as to an opera to be founded by Scribe on 'The Tempest,' already tried by Immermann (see p. 268b); and a long correspondence between himself, Scribe, and Lumley appears to have taken place, no doubt exhaustive on his part. It came to nothing, from his dissatisfaction with the libretto, but it was accompanied by extreme and long-continued annoyance, owing to his belief that the opera was announced in London as if he were under a contract to complete it, and that for the season of 1847. He was at this moment more or less committed to the subject of Loreley, on which he had communicated with Geibel the poet as early as the preceding April. Geibel, a friend of Mendelssohn's and a warm admirer of his wife's, was at work on the book, and completed it at the beginning of 1847. Mendelssohn occasionally conducted the later Gewandhaus concerts of this season, and some of the programmes were of special interest, such as two historical concerts on Feb. 18 and 25, 1847. One of these gave him the opportunity to write a charming letter to the daughter of Reichardt, a composer for whom he always had a special fondness, and whose Morning Hymn (from Milton) had been performed at the Festival at Cologne in 1835 at his instance.
This was not on the whole a satisfactory autumn. After the extra hard work of the spring and summer, especially the tremendous struggle against time in finishing Elijah, he ought to have had a long and complete rest, like that which so revived him in 1844; whereas the autumn was spent at Leipzig, a less congenial spot than Frankfort, and, as we have shown, in the midst of grave anxiety and perpetual business, involving a correspondence which those only can appreciate who have seen its extent, and the length of the letters, and the care and neatness with which the whole is registered and arranged by his own hands. Knowing what ultimately happened, it is obvious that this want of rest, coming after so much stress, must have told seriously upon him. He himself appears to have felt the necessity of lessening his labours, for we are told that he had plans for giving up all stated and uncongenial duty, and doing only what he felt disposed to do, for building a house in Frankfort, so as to pass the summer there, and the winter in Berlin with his sisters, and thus in some measure revive the old family life to which he so strongly urges his brother-in-law in a remarkable letter of this time. Nothing however could stop the current of his musical power. He was at work on 'Christus,' the new oratorio. As Capellmeister to the King of Saxony he had to arrange and conduct the Court Concerts at Dresden; and he took a large part in the management of the Gewandhaus Concerts this season, though suffering much from his head, and being all the time under the care of his doctor. How minutely too he did his duty at this time as chief of the Conservatorium is shown by a MS. memorandum, dated Jan. 10, 1847, containing a long list of students, with full notes of their faults, and of the recommendations to be made to their professors. His enjoyment of life is still very keen, and his birthday was celebrated with an immense amount of fun. His wife, and her sister, Mrs. Schunck—a special favourite of Mendelssohn's—gave a comic scene in the Frankfort dialect; and Joachim (as Paganini), Moscheles (as a cook), and Mrs. Moscheles, acted an impromptu charade on the word 'Gewandhaus.' Happily no presentiment disturbed them; and the master of the house was as uproarious as if he had fifty birthdays before him. On Good Friday (April 2) he conducted St. Paul at Leipzig, and shortly afterwards—for the tenth, and alas! the last time—was once more in England, where he had an engagement with the Sacred Harmonic Society to conduct three performances of Elijah in its revised form. One of those kindnesses which endeared him so peculiarly to his friends belongs to this time. Madame Frege had a son dangerously ill, and was unable to hear the performance of St. Paul. 'Na nun,' said he, 'don't distress yourself; when he gets out of danger I'll come with Cécile and play to you all night.' And he went, began with Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and played on for three hours, ending with his own Variations sérieuses. A day or two afterwards, he left, travelled over with Joachim, and reached the Klingemanns' house on Monday evening, April 12. The performances took place at Exeter Hall on the 16th, 23rd, 28th, with a fourth on the 30th. The Queen and Prince Consort were present on the 23rd, and it was on that occasion that the Prince wrote the note in his programme book, addressing Mendelssohn as a second Elijah, faithful to the worship of true Art though encompassed by the idolaters of Baal, which has often been printed. In the interval Mendelssohn paid a visit to Manchester for a performance of Elijah on the 20th, and another to Birmingham, where he rehearsed and conducted the oratorio at the Town Hall on the 27th; and also conducted his Midsummer Night's Dream music and Scotch Symphony at the Philharmonic on the 26th, and played Beethoven's G major Concerto with even more than his usual brilliancy and delicacy. He probably never played that beautiful concerto—'my old cheval de bataille,' as he called it years before—more splendidly than he did on this occasion. To a friend who told him so after the performance he replied, 'I was desirous to play well, for there were two ladies present whom I particularly wished to please, and they were the Queen and Jenny Lind.' A little trait remembered by more than one who heard the performance, is that during the cadence to the first movement—a long and elaborate one, and, as before (see p. 285a), entirely extempore, Mr. Costa, the conductor, raised his baton, thinking that it was coming to an end, on which Mendelssohn looked up, and held up one of his hands, as much as to say 'Not yet.'
On May 1 he lunched at the Prussian embassy and played, and also played for more than two hours at Buckingham Palace in the presence of the Queen and Prince Albert only. On the 4th, at the Beethoven Quartet Society, he played Beethoven's 32 Variations, without book, his own C minor Trio, and a Song without Words; and the same evening was at the opera at Jenny Lind's début. On the evening of the 5th he played a prelude and fugue on the name of Bach on the organ at the Antient Concert. The morning of the 6th he spent at Lord Ellesmere's picture gallery, and in the afternoon played to his friends the Bunsens and a distinguished company at the Prussian embassy. He left the room in great emotion, and without the power of saying farewell. The same day he wrote a Song without words in the album of Lady Caroline Cavendish, and another in that of the Hon. Miss Cavendish, since published as Op. 102, No. 2, and Op. 85, No. 5, respectively. On the 8th he took leave of the Queen and Prince Consort at Buckingham Palace, and left London the same evening, much exhausted, with the Klingemanns. He had indeed, to use his own words, 'staid too long there already.' It was observed at this time by one who evidently knew him well, that though in the evening and when excited by playing, he looked as he had done on former visits, yet that by daylight his face showed sad traces of wear and a look of premature old age. He crossed on the 9th, Sunday, to Calais, drove to Ostend, and on the 11th was at Cologne. At Herbesthal, through the extra zeal of a police official, who mistook him for a Dr. Mendelssohn of whom the police were in search, he was stopped on his road, seriously annoyed, and compelled to write a long statement which must have cost him as much time and labour as to compose an overture. He had been only a day or two in Frankfort when he received the news of the sudden death of his sister Fanny at Berlin on the 14th. It was broken to him too abruptly, and acting on his enfeebled frame completely overcame him. With a shriek he fell to the ground, and remained insensible for some time.
It was the third blow of the kind that he had received, a blow perhaps harder to bear than either of the others, inasmuch as Fanny was his sister, more of his own age, and he himself was older, more worn, and less able in the then weak state of his nerves to sustain the shock. In his own words, 'a great chapter was ended, and neither title nor beginning of the next were written.'
Early in June, as soon as he had sufficiently recovered to move, the whole family (with Miss Jung as governess, and Dr. Klengel as tutor) went to Baden-Baden, where they were joined by Paul and Hensel; thence by Schaffhausen to Lucerne, Thun and Interlaken, in and about which they made some stay. To Felix the relief was long in coming. On July 7, though well, and often even cheerful, he was still unable to do any musical work, write a proper letter, or recover a consistent frame of mind. He worked at his drawing with more than usual assiduity at this time. Thirteen large water-colour pictures illustrate the journey, beginning with two views of the Falls of Schaffhausen (June 27 and 29), and ending with one of Interlaken (Sept. 4). Many of them are very highly finished, and all are works which no artist need hesitate to sign. They are on a greater scale than any of his previous sketches, and there is a certainty about the drawing, and a solidity in the perspective, which show how well he understood what he was about. The same love of form that shines so conspicuously in his great symphonies is there, and the details are put in, like the oboe and clarinet phrases in his scores, as if he loved every stroke. They are really beautiful works. In addition to these finished drawings, he sketched a good deal in Indian ink.
In the middle of the month Paul and Hensel returned home, but Felix and his family remained till September. Meantime the world was going on, regardless of private troubles, friends visited him, and plans for music began to crowd round him. Among the former were Professor Graves and his wife, Mr. Grote the historian—old friends, the last of whom had taken a long journey on purpose to see him—and Chorley the musical critic. He had received a request from the Philharmonic Society for a Symphony for 1848; an application to write a piece for the opening of the St. George's Hall in Liverpool; had a new Cantata in view for Frankfort, and something for the inauguration of Cologne Cathedral. Elijah was to be given under his baton both at Berlin (Nov. 3) and Vienna—at the latter with Jenny Lind—and the long-cherished opera ex-ercised its old charm over him. But his nerves were still too weak to bear any noise, and he suffered much from headache and weariness; his piano was 'not for playing, but for trying a chord,' 'it was the very worst he had ever touched in his life,' and he shrank from the organ at Fribourg when proposed to him. The organ in the village church of Ringgenberg, on the lake of Brienz, was his only resource, and it was there that for the last time in his life he touched the organ keys. He put aside the music for Liverpool, 'for the present.' and declined the request of the Philharmonic, on the ground that a work for the Society ought not to bear the least trace of the hurry and bustle in which he would have to live for the rest of the year. At the same time he was much agitated at the state of home politics, which were very threatening, and looked with apprehension on the future of Germany. For himself he returned strongly to the plans already alluded to at the end of 1846, of giving up playing and concert-giving, and other exciting and exacting business, and taking life more easily, and more entirely as he liked.
At length the power of application came, and he began to write music. We shall not be far wrong in taking the intensely mournful and agitated String Quartet in F minor (op. 80) as the first distinct utterance of his distress. This over, he arrived by degrees at a happier and more even mental condition, though with paroxysms of intense grief and distress. The contrast between the gaiety and spirit of his former letters, and the sombre, apathetic tone of those which are preserved from this time, is most remarkable, and impossible to be overlooked. It is as if the man were broken, and accepted his lot without an idea of resistance. He continually recurred to the idea of retirement from all active life but composition.
Of the music which is due to this time we find, besides the Quartet just mentioned, an Andante and Scherzo in E major and A minor, which form the first movements of op. 81; the fragments of Loreley and of Christus; a Jubilate, Magnificat, and Nunc dimittis for 4 voices (op. 69), which he began before going to London, and finished in Baden-Baden on June 12; and a few songs, such as 'Ich wandre fort' (op. 71, no. 5).
With the close of the summer the party returned homewards, and on Sept. 17 were again in Leipzig. He found there a new Broadwood grand piano which had been forwarded by the London house during his absence in Switzerland, and is said to have played upon it for several hours. Those who knew him best found him 'unaltered in mind, and when at the piano or talking about music still all life and fire.' During these days he played to Dr. Schleinitz a new string quartet, complete except the slow movement, which was to be a set of Variations—but not yet put on paper. He took leave of Mr. Buxton, one of his English publishers, with the words 'You shall have plenty of music from me; I will give you no cause to complain.' But such moments of vivacity would be followed by great depression, in which he could not bear to speak or to be spoken to even by old friends. He was much changed in look, and he who before was never at rest, and whose hands were always in motion, now often sat dull and listless, without moving a finger. 'He had aged, looked pale and weary, walked less quickly than before, and was more intensely affected by every passing thing than he used to be.' Also he complained of the oppressive air of the town. And yet, though more than one person is still alive who remembers this, not even those most near him appear to have realised the radical and alarming change for the worse which had taken place in his strength.
The Gewandhaus concerts began on Oct. 3, but he took no part in them, and left the conducting to his old colleague Rietz. A friend recollects his saying how happy he was—'as cheerful as a set of organ-passages'—that he hadn't to make out the programmes. He dreaded all public music, and complained much, though blaming himself as not deserving the happiness he had in his 'dear Cécile' and in the recovery of his boy Felix. He had been to Berlin for a week, very shortly after his return, and the sight of his sister's rooms, exactly as she left them, had agitated him extremely, 'and almost neutralized the effects of his Swiss retirement.' He had definitely given up the performance of Elijah at Berlin, but was bent on undertaking that at Vienna on Nov. 14, where he was to hear his friend Jenny Lind in the music which he had written for her voice. On the morning of Oct. 9 he called on the Moscheleses and walked with them to the Rosenthal. He was at first much depressed, but it went off, and he became for the moment almost gay. After this he went to Madame Frege's house, and here his depression returned, and worse than before. His object was to consult her as to the selection and order of the songs in op. 71, which he was about to publish—one of the minute matters in which he was so fastidious and difficult to satisfy. She sang them to him several times, they settled the order, and then he said he must hear them once more, and after that they would study Elijah; she left the room for lights, and on her return found him on the sofa shivering, his hands cold and stiff, his head in violent pain. He then went home, and the attack continued; leeches were applied, and by the 15th he had recovered so far as to listen with interest to the details of the reception of Hiller's new opera at Dresden, and actually to make plans for his Vienna journey. On the 25th he writes to his brother in the old affectionate vein. He is taking tonics, but Paul's face would do him more good than the bitterest medicine. He was not, however, destined to speak to him again. On the 28th he was so much better as to take a walk with his wife, but it was too much, and shortly afterwards he had a second attack, and on Nov. 3 another, which last deprived him of consciousness. He lingered through the next day, fortunately without pain, and expired at 9.24 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, 1847, in the presence of his wife, his brother, Schleinitz, David, and Moscheles. During the illness, the public feeling was intense. Bulletins were issued, and the house was besieged by enquirers. After his death it was as if every one in the town had received a blow and sustained a personal loss. 'It is lovely weather here,' writes a young English student to the York Courant, 'but an awful stillness prevails; we feel as if the king were dead. Clusters of people are seen speaking together in the streets.' Those who remember what happened in London when Sir Robert Peel died can imagine how a similar loss would affect so small, simple, and concentrated a town as Leipzig. The streets were placarded at the corners with official announcements of his death, as if he had been a great officer of state.
On the Friday and Saturday the public were allowed to see the dead body. On Sunday the 7th it was taken to the Pauliner Church at Leipzig. A band preceded the hearse, playing the Song without Words in E minor (Book 5, no. 3), instrumented by Moscheles; and after this came a student of the Conservatorium with a cushion, on which lay a silver crown formerly presented to Mendelssohn by his pupils, and his Order 'pour le merite.' The pall was borne by Moscheles, David, Hauptmann, and Gade; tha professors and pupils of the Conservatorium, the members of the Gewandhaus orchestra, the chief functionaries of the Corporation and the University, and several guilds and societies accompanied the coffin, and Paul Mendelssohn was chief mourner. In the church the chorale 'To thee, Lord,' and the chorus 'Happy and blest,' from St. Paul, were sung, a sermon or oration was delivered by Herr Howard, the pastor of the Reformed Congregation, and the service closed with the concluding chorus of Bach's Passion music. At 10 p.m. the coffin was conveyed to the Leipzig station and transported by rail to Berlin. On the road, during the night, it was met at Cöthen by the choir of the place, under Thile their director, and at Dessau, by Friedrich Schneider, who wiped away the recollection of early antagonisms by a farewell part-song, composed for the occasion, and sung by his choir at the station. It arrived at Berlin at 7 a.m., and after more funeral ceremonies was deposited in the enclosed burial-place of the family in the Alte Dreifaltigkeits Kirchhof, close outside the Halle-thor.
His tombstone is a cross. He rests between his boy Felix and his sister Fanny. His father and mother are a short distance behind.
The 5th Gewandhaus concert, which it was piously observed would naturally have ended at the very moment of his death, was postponed till the 11th, when, excepting the Eroica Symphony, which formed the second part of the programme, it was entirely made up of the compositions of the departed master. Among them were the Nachthed of Eichendorf (op. 71, no. 6), sung by Madame Frege.
In London the feeling, though naturally not so deep or so universal as in his native place, was yet both deep and wide. His visits had of late been so frequent, and the last one was so recent, and there was such a vivid personality about him, such force and fire, and such a general tone of health and spirits, that no wonder we were startled by the news of his death. The tone of the press was more that of regret for a dear relation, than of eulogy for a public character. Each writer spoke as if he intimately knew and loved the departed. This is especially conspicuous in the long notices of the Times and Athenæum, which are full not only of keen appreciation, but of deep personal sorrow. Of his private friends I shall only permit myself two quotations. Mrs. Grote, writing nearly thirty years afterwards, names four friends whose deaths had occasioned her the most poignant sorrow of her life; and among these are Felix Mendelssohn, Alexis de Tocqueville, and John Stuart Mill. Mrs. Austin, the aunt of his early friends the Taylors, and herself one of his most intimate allies, in a tribute to his memory as beautiful as it is short, says—
'His is one of the rare characters that cannot be known too intimately. Of him there is nothing to tell that is not honourable to his memory, consoling to his friends, profitable to all men.… Much as I admired him as an artist, I was no less struck by his childlike simplicity and sportiveness, his deference to age, his readiness to bend his genius to give pleasure to the humble and ignorant; the vivacity and fervour of his admiration for everything good and great, his cultivated intellect, refined tastes and noble sentiments.'
Nor was the public regret out of proportion to that of his intimate friends. We are not perhaps prone to be very demonstrative over artists, especially over musicians; but this was a man who had wound himself into our feelings as no other musician had done since Handel. What Handel's songs, Harmonious Blacksmith, and other harpsichord pieces had done for the English public in 1740, that Mendelssohn's Songs without Words, and Part-songs, had done in 1840, and they had already made his name a beloved household word in many a family circle both in town and country. He had been for long looked upon as half an Englishman. He spoke English well, he wrote letters and familiar notes in our tongue freely; he showed himself in the provinces; his first important work was founded on Shakspeare, his last was brought out in England, at so peculiarly English a town as Birmingham; and his 'Scotch Symphony' and 'Hebrides Overture' showed how deeply the scenery of Britain had influenced him. And, perhaps more than this, there were in the singular purity of his life, in his known devotion to his wife and family, and his general high and unselfish character, the things most essential to procure him both the esteem and affection of the English people.
The Sacred Harmonic Society, the only Society in London having concerts at that period of the year, performed Elijah on Nov. 17, preceded by the Dead March in Saul, and with the band and chorus all dressed in black. At Manchester and Birmingham similar honours were paid to the departed composer. In Germany commemoration concerts (Todtenfeier) were given at Berlin, Vienna, Frankfort, Hamburg, and many other places. His bust was set up in the Theatre at Berlin, and his profile in the Gewandhaus at Leipzig. The first Concert of the Conservatoire at Paris, on Jan. 9, 1848, was entitled 'à la mémoire de F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy,' and comprised the Scotch Symphony, Hebrides Overture, Violin Concerto, and fragments from St. Paul. Among the very numerous letters of condolence addressed to his widow we will only mention those from the Queen of England, the King of Prussia, and the King of Saxony.
Two works were in the printers' hands at the time of Mendelssohn's death—the Six Songs (op. 71) and the Six Children's pieces (op. 72). These were quickly published. Then there was a pause, and at length, as he had left no will, Madame Mendelssohn confided to a kind of committee, composed of her husband's most intimate musical friends, the task of deciding which pieces out of the immense mass of MS. music should be published, and of supervising the publication. These gentlemen were Dr. Schleinitz, the acting member of the council of the Conservatorium, David, Moscheles, and Hauptmann, all resident in Leipzig, with Paul Mendelssohn in Berlin, and Julius Rietz in Dresden. The instrumental works still in MS. embraced the Trumpet Overture (1825) and Reformation Symphony (1830), the Italian Symphony (1833), the Overture to Ruy Blas (1839), 2 sets of P.F. variations (1841), the Quintet in B♭ (1845), the Quartet in F minor (1847), and fragments of another Quartet in E, Songs without Words, and other P.F. pieces. The Vocal works comprised the Liederspiel 'Heimkehr aus der Fremde' (1829), the Concert-aria 'Infelice' (1843), the Music to Athalie and to Œdipus Coloneus (both 1845), Lauda Sion (1846), fragments of the opera Loreley, and of the oratorio Christus, on which he had been at work not long before his death, Psalms and Sprüche for voices with and without accompaniment, Songs and Part-songs.
The work of publication began with Lauda Sion, which appeared as op. 73, Feb. 15, 1848. This was followed by Athalie, and by other works down to the four Part-songs which form op. 100 and no. 29 of the posthumous works, which came out in Jan. 1852. Here a pause took place. In the meantime, borne down by her great loss, and also by the death of her third boy, Felix, in 1851, Madame Mendelssohn herself died on Sept. 25, 1853. The manuscripts then came into the hands of Dr. Carl Mendelssohn, the eldest son, and after some years publication re-commenced with the Trumpet Overture, which appeared in 1867, and continued at intervals down to the 'Perpetuum mobile' (op. 119).
Many of the pieces referred to in the above enumeration are included in the series of MS. volumes already mentioned. Forty-four of these volumes are now deposited in the Imperial Library at Berlin, in pursuance of an arrangement dated Dec. 23, 1877, by which, in exchange for the possession of them, the German government agreed with the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy family to found two perpetual scholarships of 1500 marks (£75) per annum each, tenable for four years, for the education of students of music elected by competition from the music schools of Germany. The Trustees of the Fund are three—the Director of the High School of Music at Berlin, a second nominated by the government, and a third by the family. The first election took place on Oct. 1, 1879, and the successful candidates were Engelbert Humperdink of Siegburg, and Josef Kotek of Podolia. In addition, Ernst Seyffardt of Crefeld, and Johann Secundus Cruse of Melbourne, Australia, will receive allowances of 750 marks each out of the arrears of the Fund.
Long before the foundation of the Berlin Scholarships, however, practical steps in the same direction had been taken in England. In Nov. 1847 a resolution was passed by the Sacred Harmonic Society of London for the erection of a public memorial in honour of Mendelssohn. £50 was subscribed thereto by the Queen and Prince Consort, and like sums by the Sacred Harmonic and Philharmonic Societies. Other subscriptions were raised amounting in the whole to over £600. In April 1859, after many negotiations, a model of a statue by Mr. C. Bacon was approved by the subscribers; it was cast in bronze in the following November, and on May 4, 1860, was set up on the Terrace of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham.
A more appropriate memorial was the Mendelssohn Scholarship, which originated in Madame Lind-Goldschmidt in the year 1850, and will be found described under its own heading. [See Mendelssohn Scholarship.]
In person Mendelssohn was short, not so much as 5 ft. 6 ins. high, and slight of build; in figure lithe, and very light and mercurial. His look was dark and very Jewish; the face unusually mobile, and ever varying in expression, full of brightness and animation, and with a most unmistakeable look of genius. [App. p.717 "After a breakfast with him at B. Hawes's, Thackeray told Richard Doyle (who told the writer), 'His face is the most beautiful face I ever saw, like what I imagine our Saviour's to have been.' Sir F. Pollock (Reminisc. i. 215) 'was much struck by his fine face and figure, and the excellence of his conversation.'"] His complexion was fresh, and shewed a good deal of colour. His hair was black, thick, and abundant, but very fine, with a natural wave in it, and was kept back from, his forehead, which was high and much developed. By the end of his life, however, it showed a good deal of gray and he began to be bald. His mouth was unusually delicate and expressive, and had generally a pleasant smile at the corners. His whiskers were very dark, and his closely-shaven chin and upper lip were blue from the strength of his beard. His teeth were beautifully white and regular; but the most striking part of his face were the large dark brown eyes. When at rest he often lowered the eyelids as if he were slightly short-sighted which indeed he was; but when animated they gave an extraordinary brightness and fire to his face, and 'were as expressive a pair of eyes as were ever set in a human being's head.' [App. p.717 "They could also sparkle with rage like a tiger's (Moscheles, Life, i. 324)."] When he was playing extempore, or was otherwise much excited, they would dilate and become nearly twice their ordinary size, the brown pupil changing to a vivid black. His laugh was hearty, and frequent; and when especially amused he would quite double up with laughter and shake his hand from the wrist to emphasize his merriment. He would nod his head violently when thoroughly agreeing, so that the hair came down over his face. In fact his body was almost as expressive as his face. His hands were small, with taper fingers. On the keys they behaved almost like 'living and intelligent creatures, full of life and sympathy.' His action at the piano was as free from affectation as everything else that he did, and very interesting. At times, especially at the organ, he leant very much over the keys, as if watching for the strains which came out of his finger tips. He sometimes swayed from side to side, but usually his whole performance was quiet and absorbed.
He refused more than once, from motives of modesty, to have his likeness taken. But a great number of portraits were painted and drawn at different times of his life. The best of these, in the opinion of those most capable of judging, is that painted by his friend Professor Edward Magnus at Berlin in the year 1844. The original of this is in the possession of Madame Lind-Goldschmidt, to whom it was presented by Magnus himself, and although deficient in that lively speaking expression which all admit to have been so characteristic of him, it may be accepted as a good representation. It is very superior to the various replicas and copies in existence, which are distinguished by a hopeless meek solemnity of look, absolutely impossible in the original, and which therefore convey an entirely wrong idea of 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 Goethe, which he describes as 'very like, but rather sulky'; another was painted at Rome by Horace Vernet, and another 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 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 Schumann and 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 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 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 intention. But such differences of opinion never affected their intercourse; they were always friendly, and even affectionate, and loved to be together. More than one person living remembers the strong interest which Mendelssohn took in 'Paradise and the Peri' on its first appearance, and how anxious he was that his friends should hear it. Of Schumann's string quartets he records that they 'pleased him extremely'; and it is surely allowable to infer that it was the expression of his pleasure that made Schumann dedicate them to him. He had a particular love for some of Schumann's songs, and as this feeling was not shared by all the members of his family he would sometimes ask for the 'forbidden fruit,' as a kind of synonym for something peculiarly pleasant. The fact that he placed Schumann among his colleagues at the starting of the Leipzig Conservatorium of itself shows how much he valued him.
On the other hand, Schumann is never warmer or more in earnest than when he is praising Mendelssohn's compositions, as may be seen by many an article in his Gesammelte Schriften. He dedicated his string quartets to him, as we have said. He defended him with ardour when attacked; during his last sad years Mendelssohn's name was constantly in his mouth as that of his best friend, and his last clearly expressed wish was that his youngest boy should be called after him. A proof of his affectionate feeling is to be found in the no. 28 of his 'Album für die Jugend' (op. 68), which is inscribed 'Erinnerung (Nov. 4, 1847),' and therefore expresses his feelings at the death of his friend. It is not necessary to discover that definite direct meaning in this touching little piece which Mendelssohn found in all music, in order to recognise sadness tempered by a deep sense of grace and sweetness; the result showing how beautiful was the image which Mendelssohn left in the mind of one so completely able to appreciate him as Schumann.
Nowhere is Mendelssohn's naturalness and naïveté more evident than in his constant reference to his own foibles. The hearty way in which he enjoys idleness, and boasts of it, the constant references to eating and drinking, are delightful in a man who got through so much work, who was singularly temperate, and whose only weakness for the products of the kitchen was for rice milk and cherry pie. In this, as in everything else, he was perfectly simple and natural. 'I do not in the least concern myself as to what people wish or praise or pay for; but solely as to what I myself consider good.' No doubt he was very fortunate in being able to disregard 'what people paid for'; but that he did so is a part of his character.
His fun and drollery were more the result of his high spirits than of any real turn for wit. Unlike Beethoven, he rarely indulges in plays on words, and his best efforts in that direction are the elaborately illustrated programmes and jeux d'esprit which are preserved in the albums of some of his friends, and in which caricatures, verses, puns, and jokes, are mixed up in a very droll fashion. There is much humour in some of his scherzos, but especially in the funeral march for Pyramus and Thisbe in the M.N.D. pieces, one of the most comical things in all music. It is much to be regretted that he has left no other specimen of his remarkable power in this direction. Probably he indulged in a good deal of such fun which has not been preserved, since both he and his sister refer to that march as a specimen of a style in which he often extemporised. In mimicry he was great, not only in music but in taking off speech and manner. The most humorous passage that I have met with in his letters is still in MS.—'Dass jenseits auch Musik gemacht werden könne, das glauben Sie ja, und haben mirs oft gesagt. Dann wirds wohl kein schlechtes Instrument geben, wie bei Geyer, und keine dumme Flöte pustet da, und keine Posaune schleppt nach, und nirgends fehlt es, und wankt es, und eilt es, das glaube ich wohl.'
No musician—unless perhaps it were Lionardo da Vinci, and he was only a musician in a limited sense—certainly no great composer, ever had so many pursuits as Mendelssohn. Mozart drew, and wrote capital letters, Berlioz and Weber also both wrote good letters, Beethoven was a great walker and intense lover of nature, Cherubini was a botanist and a passionate card-player, but none of them approach Mendelssohn in the number and variety of his occupations. Both billiards and chess he played with ardour to the end of his life, and in both he excelled. When a lad he was devoted to gymnastics; later on he rode much, swam more, and danced whenever he had the opportunity. Cards and skating were almost the only diversions he did not care for. But then these were diversions. There were two pursuits which almost deserve to rank as work—drawing and letter-writing. Drawing with him was more like a professional avocation than an amusement. The quantity of his sketches and drawings preserved is very large. They begin with the Swiss journey in 1822, on which he took 27 large ones, all very carefully finished, and all dated, sometimes two in one day. The Scotch and Italian tours are both fully illustrated, and so they go on year by year till his last journey into Switzerland in 1847, of which, as already said, 14 large highly finished water-colour drawings remain, besides slighter sketches. At first they are rude and childish, though with each successive set the improvement is perceptible. But even with the earliest ones there is no mistaking that the drawing was a serious business. The subjects are not what are called 'bits,' but are usually large comprehensive views, and it is impossible to doubt that the child threw his whole mind into it, did his very best, and shirked nothing. He already felt the force of the motto which fronted his conductor's chair in the Gewandhaus—'Res severa est verum gaudium.' Every little cottage or gate is put in with as much care as the main features. Every tree has its character. Everything stands well on its legs, and the whole has that architectonic style which is so characteristic of his music.
Next to his drawing should be placed his correspondence, and this is even more remarkable. During the last years of his life there can have been but few eminent men in Europe who wrote more letters than he did. Many even who take no interest in music are familiar with the nature of his letters—the happy mixture of seriousness, fun, and affection, the life-like descriptions, the happy hits, the naïveté which no baldness of translation can extinguish, the wise counsels, the practical views, the delight in the successes of his friends, the self-abnegation, the bursts of wrath at anything mean or nasty. We all remember, too, the length to which they run. Taking the printed volumes, and comparing the letters with those of Scott or Arnold, they are on the average very considerably longer than either. But the published letters bear only a small proportion to those still in MS. In fact the abundance of material for the biographer of Mendelssohn is quite bewildering. That however is not the point. The remarkable fact is that so many letters of such length and such intrinsic excellence should have been written by a man who was all the time engaged in an engrossing occupation, producing great quantities of music, conducting, arranging, and otherwise occupied in a profession which more than any demands the surrender of the entire man. For these letters are no hurried productions, but are distinguished, like the drawings, for the neatness and finish which pervade them. An autograph letter of Mendelssohn's is a work of art; the lines are all straight and close, the letters perfectly and elegantly formed, with a peculiar luxuriance of tails, and an illegible word can hardly be found. To the folding and the sealing everything is perfect. It seems impossible that this can have been done quickly. It must have absorbed an enormous deal of time. While speaking of his correspondence, we may mention the neatness and order with which he registered and kept everything. The 44 volumes of MS. music, in which he did for himself what Mozart's father so carefully did for his son, have been mentioned. But it is not generally known that he preserved all letters that he received, and stuck them with his own hands into books. 27 large thick green volumes exist, containing apparently all the letters and memorandums, business and private, which he received from Oct. 29, 1821, to Oct. 29, 1847, together with the drafts of his Oratorio books, and of the long official communications which, during his latter life, cost him so many unprofitable hours. He seems to have found time for everything. Hiller tells us how during a very busy season he revised and copied out the libretto of his oratorio for him. One of his dearest Leipzig friends has a complete copy of the full score of Antigone, including the whole of the words of the melodrama, written for her with his own hand; a perfect piece of caligraphy, without spot or erasure! and the family archives contain a long minute list of the contents of all the cupboards in the house, filling several pages of foolscap, in his usual neat writing, and made about the year 1842. We read of Mr. Dickens that 'no matter was considered too trivial to claim his care and attention. He would take as much pains about the hanging of a picture, the choosing of furniture, the superintending of any little improvement in the house, as he would about the more serious business of his life; thus carrying out to the very letter his favourite motto that What is worth doing at all is worth doing well.' No words could better describe the side of Mendelssohn's character to which we are alluding, nor could any motto more emphatically express the principle on which he acted throughout life in all his work.
His taste and efficiency in such minor matters are well shown in the albums which he made for his wife, beautiful specimens of arrangement, the most charming things in which are the drawings and pieces of music from his own hands. His private account-books and diaries are kept with the same quaint neatness. If he had a word to alter in a letter, it was done with a grace which turned the blemish into a beauty. The same care came out in everything—in making out the programmes for the Gewandhaus concerts, where he would arrange and re-arrange the pieces to suit some inner idea of symmetry or order; or in settling his sets of songs for publication as to the succession of keys, connection or contrast of words, etc. In fact he had a passion for neatness, and a repugnance to anything clumsy. Possibly this may have been one reason why he appears so rarely to have sketched his music. He made it in his head, and had settled the minutest points there before he put it on paper, thus avoiding the litter and disorder of a sketch. Connected with this neatness is a certain quaintness in his proceedings which perhaps strikes an Englishman more forcibly than it would a German. He used the old-fashioned C clef for the treble voices in his scores to the last; the long flourish with which he ornaments the double bar at the end of a piece never varied. A score of Haydn's Military Symphony which he wrote for his wife bears the words 'Possessor Cécile.' In writing to Mrs. Moscheles of her little girls, whose singing had pleased him, he begs to be remembered to the 'drei kleine Diskantisten.' A note to David, sent by a child, is inscribed 'Kinderpost,' and so on. Certain French words occur over and over again, and are evidently favourites. Such are plaisir and trouble, á propos, en gros, and others. The word hübsch, answering to our 'nice,' was a special favourite, and nett was one of his highest commendations.
But to return for a moment to his engrossing pursuits. Add to those just mentioned the many concerts, to be arranged, rehearsed, conducted; the frequent negotiations attending on Berlin; the long official protocols; the hospitality and genial intercourse, where he was equally excellent as host or as guest; the claims of his family; the long holidays, real holidays, spent in travelling, and not, like Beethoven's, devoted to composition and we may almost be pardoned for wondering how he can have found time to write any music at all. But on the contrary, with him all this business does not appear to have militated against composition in the slightest degree. It often drove him almost to distraction; it probably shortened his life; but it never seems to have prevented his doing whatever music came before him, either spontaneously or at the call of his two posts at Berlin and Dresden. He composed Antigone in a fortnight, he resisted writing the music to Euy Bias, he grumbled over the long chorale for the thousandth anniversary of the German Empire, and over the overture to Athalie, in the midst of his London pleasures; but still he did them, and in the cases of Antigone and the two overtures it is difficult to see how he could have done them better. He was never driven into a corner.
The power by which he got through all this labour, so much of it self-imposed, was the power of order and concentration, the practical business habit of doing one thing at a time, and doing it well. This no doubt was the talent which his father recognised in him so strongly as to make him doubt whether business was not his real vocation. It was this which made him sympathise with Schiller in his power of 'supplying' great tragedies as they were wanted. In one way his will was weak, for he always found it hard to say No; but having accepted the task it became a duty, and towards duty his will was the iron will of a man of business. Such a gift is vouchsafed to very few artists. Handel possessed it in some degree; but with that one exception Mendelssohn seems to stand alone.
Of his method of composing, little or nothing is known. He appears to have made few sketches, and to have arranged his music in his head at first, much as Mozart did. Probably this arose from his early training under Zelter, for the volumes for 1821, 2, 3, of the MS. series now in the Berlin Library appear to contain his first drafts, and rarely show any corrections, and what there are are not so much sketches as erasures and substitutions. Devrient and Schubring tell of their having seen him composing a score bar by bar from top to bottom; but this was probably only an experiment or tour de force. The fragment of the first movement of a symphony which is given on p. 305, is a good average example of the shape in which his ideas first came on to the paper.
Alterations in a work after it was completed are quite another tiling, and in these he was lavish. He complains of his not discovering the necessity for them till post festum. We have seen instances of this in the Walpurgisnight, St. Paul, the Lobgesang, Elijah, and some of the Concert-overtures. Another instance is the Italian Symphony, which he retained in MS. for 14 years, till his death, with the intention of altering and improving the Finale. Another, equally to the point, is the D minor Trio, of which there are two editions in actual circulation, containing several important and extensive differences. This is carrying fastidiousness even further than Beethoven, whose alterations were endless, but ceased with publication. The autographs of many of Mendelssohn's pieces are dated years before they were printed, and in most, if not all, cases, they received material alterations before being issued.
Of his pianoforte playing in his earlier days we have already spoken. What it was in his great time, at such displays as his performances in London at the Philharmonic in 1842, 44, and 47; at Ernst's Concert in 1844, in the Bach Concerto with Moscheles and Thalberg; at the British Musicians' matinee in 1844; and the British Quartet Society in 1847; at the Leipzig Concerts on the occasion already mentioned in 1836; at Miss Lind's Concert Dec. 5, 1845, or at many a private reunion at V. Novello's or the Horsleys', or the Moscheles' in London, or the houses of his favourite friends in Leipzig, Berlin, or Frankfort—there are still many remaining well able to judge, and in whose minds the impression survives as clear as ever. Of the various recollections with which I have been favoured, I cannot do better than give entire those of Madame Schumann, and Dr. Hiller. In reading them it should be remembered that Mendelssohn was fond of speaking of himself as a player en gros, who did not claim (however great his right) to be a virtuoso, and that there are instances of his having refused to play to great virtuosi.
1. 'My recollections of Mendelssohn's playing,' says Madame Schumann, 'are among the most delightful things in my artistic life. It was to me a shining ideal, full of genius and life, united with technical perfection. He would sometimes take the tempi very quick, but never to the prejudice of the music. It never occurred to me to compare him with virtuosi. Of mere effects of performance he knew nothing—he was always the great musician, and in hearing him one forgot the player, and only revelled in the full enjoyment of the music. He could carry one with him in the most incredible manner, and his playing was always stamped with beauty and nobility. In his early days he had acquired perfection of technique; but latterly, as he often told me, he hardly ever practised, and yet he surpassed every one. I have heard him in Bach, and Beethoven, and in his own compositions, and shall never forget the impression he made upon me.'
2. 'Mendelssohn's playing,' says Dr. Hiller, 'was to him what flying is to a bird. No one wonders why a lark flies, it is inconceivable without that power. In the same way Mendelssohn played the piano because it was his nature. He possessed great skill, certainty, power, and rapidity of execution, a lovely full tone—all in fact that a virtuoso could desire, but these qualities were forgotten while he was playing, and one almost overlooked even those more spiritual gifts which we call fire, invention, soul, apprehension, etc. When he sat down to the instrument music streamed from him with all the fullness of his inborn genius,—he was a centaur, and his horse was the piano. What he played, how he played it, and that he was the player—all were equally rivetting, and it was impossible to separate the execution, the music, and the executant. This was absolutely the case in his improvisations, so poetical, artistic, and finished; and almost as much so in his execution of the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, or himself. Into those three masters he had grown, and they had become his spiritual property. The music of other composers he knew, but could not produce it as he did theirs. I do not think, for instance, that his execution of Chopin was at all to be compared to his execution of the masters just mentioned; he did not care particularly for it, though when alone he played everything good with interest. In playing at sight his skill and rapidity of comprehension were astonishing, and that not with P.F. music only, but with the most complicated compositions. He never practised, though he once told me that in his Leipzig time he had played a shake (I think with the 2nd and 3rd fingers) several minutes every day for some months, till he was perfect in it.'
'His staccato,' says Mr. Joachim, 'was the most extraordinary thing possible for life and crispness. In the Frühlingslied (Songs without Words, Bk. v, No. 6) for instance, it was quite electric, and though I have heard that song played by many of the greatest players, I never experienced the same effect. His playing was extraordinarily full of fire, which could hardly be controlled, and yet was controlled, and combined with the greatest delicacy.' 'Though lightness of touch, and a delicious liquid pearliness of tone,' says another of his pupils, 'were prominent characteristics, yet his power in fortes was immense. In the passage in his G minor Concerto where the whole orchestra makes a crescendo the climax of which is a 6-4 chord on D, played by the P.F. alone, it seemed as if the band had quite enough to do to work up to the chord he played.' As an instance of the fulness of his tone, the same gentleman mentions the 5 bars of piano which begin Beethoven's G major Concerto, and which, though he played them perfectly softly, filled the whole room.
'His mechanism,' says another of his Leipzig pupils, 'was extremely subtle, and developed with the lightest of wrists (never from the arm); he therefore never strained the instrument or hammered. His chord-playing was beautiful, and based on a special theory of his own. His use of the pedal was very sparing, clearly defined, and therefore effective; his phrasing beautifully clear. The performances in which I derived the most lasting impressions from him were the 32 Variations and last Sonata (Op. 111) of Beethoven, in which latter the Variations of the final movement came out more clearly in their structure and beauty than I have ever heard before or since.' Of his playing of the 32 Variations, Professor Macfarren remarks that 'to each one, or each pair, where they go in pairs, he gave a character different from all the others. In playing at sight from a MS. score he characterised every incident by the peculiar tone by which he represented the instrument for which it was written.' In describing his playing of the 9th Symphony, Mr. Schleinitz testified to the same singular power of representing the different instruments. A still stronger testimony is that of Berlioz, who, speaking of the colour of the Hebrides Overture, says that Mendelssohn 'succeeded in giving him an accurate idea of it, such is his extraordinary power of rendering the most complicated scores on the Piano.'
His adherence to his author's meaning, and to the indications given in the music, was absolute. Strict time was one of his hobbies. He alludes to it, with an eye to the sins of Hiller and Chopin, in a letter of May 23, 1834, and somewhere else speaks of 'nice strict tempo' as something peculiarly pleasant. After introducing some ritardandos in conducting the Introduction to Beethoven's 2nd Symphony, he excused himself by saying that 'one could not always be good,' and that he had felt the inclination too strongly to resist it. In playing, however, he never himself interpolated a ritardando, or suffered it in any one else. It especially enraged him when done at the end of a song or other piece. 'Es steht nicht da!' he would say; 'if it were intended it would be written in—they think it expression, but it is sheer affectation.' But though in playing he never varied the tempo when once taken, he did not always take a movement at the same pace, but changed it as his mood was at the time. We have seen in the case of Bach's A minor Fugue (p. 274) that he could on occasion introduce an individual reading; and his treatment of the arpeggios in the Chromatic Fantasia shows that, there at least, he allowed himself great latitude. Still, in imitating this it should be remembered how thoroughly he knew these great masters, and how perfect his sympathy with them was. In conducting, as we have just seen, he was more elastic, though even there his variations would now be condemned as moderate by some conductors. Before he conducted at the Philharmonic it had been the tradition in the Coda of the Overture to Egmont to return to a piano after the crescendo; but this he would not suffer, and maintained the fortissimo to the end—a practice now always followed.
He very rarely played from book, and his prodigious memory was also often shown in his sudden recollection of out-of-the-way pieces. Hiller has given two instances (pp. 28, 29). His power of retaining things casually heard was also shown in his extempore playing, where he would recollect the themes of compositions which he heard then and there for the first time, and would combine them in the happiest manner. An instance of this is mentioned by his father, in which, after Malibran had sung five songs of different nations, he was dragged to the piano, and improvised upon them all. He himself describes another occasion, a 'field day' at Baillot's, when he took three themes from the Bach sonatas and worked them up to the delight and astonishment of an audience worth delighting. At the matinée of the Society of British Musicians in 1844, he took his themes from two compositions by C. E. Horsley and Macfarren which he had just heard, probably for the first time and other instances could be given.
His extemporising was however marked by other traits than that of memory. 'It was,' says Prof. Macfarren, 'as fluent and as well planned as a written work,' and the themes, whether borrowed or invented, were not merely brought together but contrapuntally worked. Instances of this have been mentioned at Birmingham and elsewhere. His tact in these things was prodigious. At the concert given by Jenny Lind and himself on Dec. 5, 1845, he played two Songs without words—Bk. vi, No. 1, in E♭, and Bk. v, No. 6, in A major, and he modulated from the one key to the other by means of a regularly constructed intermezzo, in which the semiquavers of the first song merged into the arpeggios of the second with the most consummate art, and with magical effect. But great as were his public displays, it would seem that, like Mozart, it was in the small circle of intimate friends that his improvisation was most splendid and happy. Those only who had the good fortune to find themselves (as rarely happened) alone with him at one of his Sunday afternoons are perhaps aware of what he could really do in this direction, and he 'never improvised better' or pleased himself more than when tête à tête with the Queen and Prince Albert. A singular fact is mentioned by Hiller, which is confirmed by another friend of his:—that in playing his own music he did it with a certain reticence, as if not desiring that the work would derive any advantage from his execution. The explanation is very much in consonance with his modesty, but whether correct or not there is no reason to doubt the fact.
His immense early practice in counterpoint under Zelter—like Mozart's under his father—had given him so complete a command over all the resources of counterpoint, and such a habit of looking at themes contrapuntally, that the combinations just spoken of came more or less naturally to him. In some of his youthful compositions he brings his science into prominence, as in the Fugue in A (op. 7, no. 5); the Finale of the E♭ stringed Quartet (1823); the original Minuet and Trio of the stringed Quintet in A (op. 18), a double canon of great ingenuity; the Chorus in St. Paul, 'But our God,' constructed on the chorale 'Wir glauben all'; but with his maturity he mostly drops such displays, and Elijah, as is well known, 'contains no fugues.' In extemporising, however, it was at his fingers' ends to the last. He was also fond of throwing off ingenious canons, of which the following, written on the moment for Joachim, March 11, 1844, is a good example.
Etude for one Violin, or Canon for two Violins.
[App. p.717 "A somewhat similar canon, written in the album of Mr. Parry in 1846, is printed in the 'Musical World' for Aug. 19, 1848. Another for two violas, 'Viola 1, Sir G. Smart; Viola 2, F. M. B. July 1831,' is given by Dr. J. F. Bridge in his 'Primer of Double Counterpoint and Canon.'"]
Of his organ-playing we have already spoken. It should be added that he settled his combinations of stops before starting, and did not change them in the course of the piece. He likewise steadily adhered to the plan on which he set out; if he started in 3 parts he continued in 3, and the same with 4 or 5. He took extraordinary delight in the organ; some describe him as even more at home there than on the P.F., though this must be taken with caution. But it is certain that he loved it, and was always greatly excited when playing it.
He was fond of playing the Viola, and on more than one occasion took the first Viola part of his own Octet in public. The Violin he learned when young, but neglected it in later life. He however played occasionally, and it was amusing to see him bending over the desk, and struggling with his part just as if he were a boy. His practical knowledge of the instrument is evident from his violin music, in which there are few difficulties which an ordinarily good player cannot surmount. But this is characteristic of the care and thoughtfulness of the man. As a rule, in his scores he gives each instrument the passages which suit it. A few instances of the reverse are quoted under Clarinet (vol. i. p. 363b), but they, are quite the exception. He appears to have felt somewhat of the same natural dislike to brass instruments that Mozart did. At any rate in his early scores he uses them with great moderation, and somewhere makes the just remark that the trombone is 'too sacred an instrument' to be used freely.
The list of Mendelssohn's works published up to the present time (Jan. 1880) comprises—
<poem>5 Symphonies, including the Lobgesang. 6 Concert overtures; an Overture for military band. 1 Concerto for Violin and Orchestra; 2 do. for Pianoforte, and 3 shorter works for P. F. and Orchestra. 1 Octet for Strings, 2 Quintets and 7 Quartets for do., with fragments of an 8th; 3 Quartets for P.F. and strings, 2 Trios for the same, a Sonata for the Violin and P.F.; 2 Sonatas and a set of Variations for Cello and P.F. 2 pieces for Piano, four hands; 3 Sonatas for Piano solo, 1 Fantasia for do. ('Scotch Sonata'), 16 Scherzos, Capriccios, etc.; 8 books of Songs without Words, 6 in each, and 2 separate similar pieces; 7 Characteristic pieces; 6 pieces for children; 7 Preludes and Fugues; and 3 sets of Variations. For the organ, 6 Sonatas, and 3 Preludes and Fugues. 2 Oratorios and fragments of a third. 1 Hymn (Lauda Sion), 2 ditto for Solo, Chorus, and Orchestra. 3 Motets for Female voices and Organ; 3 Church pieces for Solos, Chorus, and Organ. 5 Motets, Jubilate, Nunc Dimittis, Magnificat, and 2 Kyries for voices only; 2 ditto Men's voices only; 2 ditto Chorus and Orchestra. 8 Psalms for Solos, Chorus and Orchestra; 6 'Sprüche' for 8 voices. 1 Opera, and portions of a second; 1 Operetta; the Walpurgisnight. Music to Midsummer Night's Dream, Athalie, Antigone, and Œidipus. 2 Festival Cantatas; 1 Concert-aria; 10 Duets and 82 Songs for solo voice, with P.F.; 28 Part Songs for mixed voices, and 17 for men's voices.</poem>
Of these a complete collected edition, edited by Julius Rietz, has been published by Messrs. Breitkopf & Härtel. The prospectus was issued in July 1876, and the publication began with 1877. The various separate editions are too numerous to be given here, but we may mention that while these sheets are passing through the press, a complete collection of the P.F. works (solo and with orchestra) has been issued by Messrs. Novello in one vol. of 518 pages.
Two editions of the Thematic Catalogue have been published by Messrs. Breitkopf, the 1st in two parts, 1846 and 1853, the 2nd in 1873. A third edition is very desirable, on the model of the admirable catalogues of Beethoven and Schubert, edited by Mr. Nottebohm. The English publishers, and the dates, should in every case be given, since their editions were often published simultaneously with those of the German publishers, and indeed in some cases are the original issues.
The few of Mendelssohn's very early works which he published himself, or which have been issued since his death, show in certain points the traces of his predecessors—of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Weber. But this is only saying what can be said of the early works of all composers, including Beethoven himself. Mendelssohn is not more but less amenable to this law of nature than most of his compeers. The traces of Bach are the most permanent, and they linger on in the vocal works even as late as St. Paul. Indeed, Bach may be tracked still later in the solid construction and architectonic arrangement of the choruses, even of the Lobgesang, the grand Psalms, the Walpurgisnight, and Elijah, works in all respects emphatically Mendelssohn's own, not less than in the religious feeling, the union of noble sentiment with tender expression, and the utter absence of commonness or vulgarity which pervade all his music alike.
In the instrumental works, however, the year 1826 broke the spell of all external influence, and the Octet, the Quintet in A, and above all the M.N.D. Overture, launched him upon the world at 17 as a thoroughly original composer. The Concert-overtures, the 2 great Symphonies, the two P.F. Concertos, and the Violin Concerto, fully maintain this orginality, and in thought, style, phrase, and clearness of expression, no less than in their symmetrical structure and exquisite orchestration, are eminently independent and individual works. The advance between the Symphony in C minor (1824), which we call 'No. I,' though it is really 'No XIII,' and the Italian Symphony (Rome, 1831) is immense. The former is laid out quite on the Mozart plan, and the working throughout recalls the old world. But the latter has no model. The melodies and the treatment are Mendelssohn's alone, and while in gaiety and freshness it is quite unrivalled, it is not too much to say that the slow movement is as great a novelty as that of Beethoven's Concerto in G major. The Scotch Symphony is as original as the Italian, and on a much larger and grander scale. The opening Andante, the Scherzo, and the Finale are especially splendid and individual. The Concert-overtures are in all essential respects as original as if Beethoven had not preceded them by writing Coriolan—as true a representative of his genius as the Hebrides is of Mendelssohn's. That to the Midsummer Night's Dream, which brought the fairies into the orchestra and fixed them there, and which will always remain a monument of the fresh feeling of youth; the Hebrides with its intensely sombre and melancholy sentiment, and the Melusina with its passionate pathos, have no predecessors in sentiment, treatment, or orchestration. Ruy Blas is as brilliant and as full of fire as the others are of sentiment, and does not fall a step behind them for individuality.
In these works there is little attempt at any modification of the established forms. Innovation was not Mendelssohn's habit of mind, and he rarely attempts it. The Scotch Symphony is directed to be played through without pause, and it has an extra movement in form of a long Coda, which appears to be a novelty in pieces in this class. There are unimportant variations in the form of the concertos, chiefly in the direction of compression. But with Mendelssohn, no more than with Schubert, do these things force themselves on the attention. He has so much to say, and says it so well, the music is so good and so agreeable, that it never occurs to the hearer to enquire if he has altered the external proportions of his discourse.
His Scherzos are still more peculiarly his own offspring, and really have no prototypes. That in a movement bearing the same name as one of Beethoven's most individual creations, and occupying the same place in the piece, he should have been able to strike out so entirely different a path as he did, is a wonderful tribute to his originality. Not less remarkable is the variety of the many Scherzos he has left. They are written for orchestra and chamber, concerted and solo alike, in double and triple time indifferently; they have no fixed rhythm, and notwithstanding a strong family likeness—the impress of the gay and delicate mind of their composer—are all independent of each other. In his orchestral works Mendelssohn's scoring is remarkable not more for its grace and beautiful effect than for its clearness and practical efficiency. It gives the Conductor no difficulty. What the composer wishes to express comes out naturally, and, as already remarked, each instrument has with rare exceptions the passages most suitable to it.
Mendelssohn's love of 'Programme' is obvious throughout the foregoing works. The exquisite imitation of Goethe's picture in the Scherzo of the Octet (p. 258b) is the earliest instance of it; the Overture founded on his Calm sea and Prosperous voyage is another; and as we advance each Overture and each Symphony has its title. He once said, in conversation with F. Schneider on the subject, that since Beethoven had taken the step he did in the Pastoral Symphony, every one was at liberty to follow. But the way in which he resented Schumann's attempt to discover 'red coral, sea monsters, magic castles and ocean caves' in his Melusina Overture shows that his view of Programme was a broad one, that he did not intend to depict scenes or events, but held fast by Beethoven's canon, that such music should be 'more expression of emotion than painting'—mehr Ausdruck der Empfindung als Malerei. Thus he quotes the first few bars of the Hebrides Overture (see p. 264a) not as his recollection of the sound of the winds and the waves, but 'to show how extraordinarily Fingal's cave had affected him'—wie seltsam mir auf den Hebriden zu Muthe geworden ist. True, in the M.N.D. Overture we are said to hear the bray of Bottom in the low G of the Ophicleide; and in the three North Wales caprices (op. 16) we are told of even more minute touches of imitation (see p. 264b); but these, if not imaginary, are at best but jeux d'esprit.
Connected with this tendency to programme is a curious point, namely, his belief in the absolute and obvious 'meaning' of music. 'Notes,' says he, 'have as definite a meaning as words, perhaps even a more definite one,' and he devotes a whole letter to reiterating that music is not too indefinite to be put into words, but too definite; that words are susceptible of a variety of meanings, while music has only one. This is not the place to discuss so strange a doctrine, which, though true to him, is certainly not true to the majority of men, and which obviously rests on the precise force of the word 'to mean' (heissen); but it is necessary to call attention to it en passant.
His great works in chamber music are on a par with those for the orchestra. The Octet, the Quintets, and the 6 Quartets are thoroughly individual and interesting, nothing far-fetched, no striving after effect, no emptiness, no padding, but plenty of matter given in a manner at once fresh and varied. Every bar is his own, and every bar is well said. The accusation which is sometimes brought against them, that they are more fitted for the orchestra than the chamber is probably to some extent well-founded. Indeed Mendelssohn virtually anticipates the charge in his preface to the parts of the Octet, which he desires may be played in a symphonic style; and in that noble piece, as well as in parts of the Quintet in B♭, and of the Quartets in D and F minor, many players have felt that the composer has placed his work in too small a frame, that the proper balance cannot always be maintained between the leading violin and the other instruments, and that to produce all the effect of the composer's ideas they should be heard in an orchestra of strings rather than in a quartet of solo instruments. On the other hand, the P.F. Quartet in B minor and the two P.F. Trios in D minor and C minor have been criticised, probably with some justice, as not sufficiently concertante, that is as giving too prominent a part to the Piano. Such criticism may detract from the pieces in a technical respect, but it leaves the ideas and sentiments of the music, the nobility of the style, and the clearness of the structure, untouched.
His additions to the technique of the Pianoforte are not important. Hiller tells a story which shows that Mendelssohn cared little for the rich passages of the modern school; his own were quite sufficient for him. But this is consistent with what we have just said. It was the music of which he thought, and as long as that expressed his feelings it satisfied him, and he was indifferent to the special form into which it was thrown. Of his Pianoforte works the most remarkable is the set of 17 Serious Variations; but the Fantasia in F♯ minor (op. 28), the 3 great Capriccios (op. 33), the Preludes and Fugues, and several of the smaller pieces, are splendid works too well known to need further mention. The Songs without Words stand by themselves, and are especially interesting to Englishmen on account of their very great popularity in this country. Mendelssohn's orchestral and chamber works are greatly played and much enjoyed here, but it is to his Oratorios, Songs, Songs without Words, and Part-songs, that he owes his firm hold on the mass of the English people. It was some time (see 135a) before the Songs without Words reached the public; but when once they became known, the taste for them quickly spread, and probably no pieces ever were so much and so permanently beloved in the country. The piece, like the name, is virtually his own invention. Not a few of Beethoven's movements—such as the Adagio to the Sonate pathétique, or the Minuet to op. 10, no. 3—might be classed as songs without words, and so might Field's Nocturnes; but the former of these are portions of larger works, not easily separable, and the latter were little known; and neither of them possess that grace and finish, that intimate charm, and above all that domestic character, which have ensured the success of Mendelssohn's Songs without Words in many an English family. They soon became identified with his name as it grew more and more familiar in England; some of them were composed here, others had names or stories attached to their origin: there was a piquancy about the very title—and all helped their popularity. His own feeling towards them was by no means so indulgent. It is perhaps impossible for a composer to be quite impartial towards pieces which make him so very popular, but he distinctly says, after the issue of Book 3, 'that he does not mean to write any more at that time, and that if such animalculæ are multiplied too much no one will care for them,' etc. It is difficult to believe that so stern a critic of his own productions should not have felt the weakness of some of them, and the strong mannerism which, with a few remarkable exceptions, pervades the whole collection. We should not forget, too, that he is not answerable for the last two books, which were published after his death, without the great alterations which he habitually made before publication. One drawback to the excessive popularity of the Songs without Words is, not that they exist—for we might as well quarrel with Goethe for the 'Wandrers Nachtlied' or the 'Heidenröslein'—nor yet the number of imitations they produced, but that in the minds of thousands these graceful trifles, many of which were thrown off at a single sitting, are indiscriminately accepted as the most characteristic representatives of the genius of the composer of the Violin Concerto and the Hebrides Overture.
His Songs may be said to have introduced the German Lied to England, and to have led the way for the deeper strains of Schumann, Schubert, and Brahms, in English houses and concert-rooms. No doubt the songs of those composers do touch lower depths of the heart than Mendelssohn's do, but the clearness and directness of his music, the spontaneity of his melody, and a certain pure charm pervading the whole, have given a place with the great public to some of his songs, such as 'On song's bright pinions,' which they will probably retain for a long time to come. Others, such as the Nachtlied, the Volkslied ('Es ist bestimmt'), and the Schilflied, are deeply pathetic; others, as the Lieblingsplätzchen, are at the same time extremely original; others, as 'O Jugend,' the Jagdgesang, and the 'Diese Rosen,' the soul of gaiety. He was very fastidious in his choice of words, and often marks his sense of the climax by varying the last stanza in accompaniment or otherwise, a practice which he was perhaps the first to adopt. One of his last commissions to his friend Professor Graves, before leaving Interlaken in 1847, was to select words from the English poets for him to set.
His Part-songs gave the majority of English amateurs a sudden and delightful introduction to a class of music which had long existed for Germans, but which till about 1840 was as much unknown here as our glees still are in Germany. Many can still recollect the utterly new and strange feeling which was then awakened in their minds by the new spirit, the delicacy, the pure style, the delicious harmonies, of these enchanting little compositions!
Ever since Handel's time, Oratorios have been the favourite public music here. Mendelssohn's works of this class, St. Paul, Elijah, the Lobgesang, soon became well known. They did not come as strangers, but as the younger brothers of the Messiah and Judas Maccabæus, and we liked them at once. Nor only liked them; we were proud of them, as having been produced or very early performed in England; they appealed to our national love for the Bible, and there is no doubt that to them is largely owing the position next to Handel which Mendelssohn occupies in England. Elijah at once took its place, and it is now almost, if not quite, on a level with the Messiah in public favour. Apart from the intrinsic qualities of the music of his large vocal works, the melody, clearness, spirit, and symmetry which they exhibit, in common with his instrumental compositions; there is one thing which remarkably distinguishes them, and in which they are far in advance of their predecessors—a simple and direct attempt to set the subject forth as it was, to think first of the story and next of the music which depicted it. It is the same thing that we formerly attempted to bring out in Beethoven's case, 'the thoughts and emotions are the first thing, and the forms of expression are second and subordinate' (vol. i. 203 b). We may call this 'dramatic,' inasmuch as the books of oratorios are more or less dramas; and Mendelssohn's letters to Schubring in reference to Elijah, his demand for more 'questions and answers, replies and rejoinders, sudden interruptions,' etc., show how thin was the line which in his opinion divided the platform from the stage, and how keenly he wished the personages of his oratorios to be alive and acting, 'not mere musical images, but inhabitants of a definite active world.' But yet it was not so much dramatic in any conscious sense as a desire to set things forth as they were. Hauptmann has stated this well with regard to the three noble Psalms (op. 78), 'Judge me, O God,' 'Why rage fiercely the heathen?' and 'My God, why hast thou forsaken me?' He says that it is not so much any musical or technical ability that places them so far above other similar compositions of our time, as the fact that Mendelssohn has 'just put the Psalm itself before him; not Bach, or Handel, or Palestrina, or any other style or composer, but the words of the Psalmist; and the result is not anything that can be classed as new or old, but the Psalm itself in thoroughly fine musical effect; the music not pretending to be scientific, or anything on its own account, but just throwing life and feeling into the dry words.' Any one who knows these psalms will recognise the truth of this description. It is almost more true in reference to the 114th Psalm, 'When Israel out of Egypt came.' The Jewish blood of Mendelssohn must surely for once have beat fiercely over this picture of the great triumph of his forefathers, and it is only the plain truth to say that in directness and force his music is a perfect match for the splendid words of the unknown Psalmist. It is true of his oratorios also, but they have other great qualities as well. St. Paul with all its great beauties is an early work, the book of which, or rather perhaps the nature of the subject, does not wholly lend itself to forcible treatment, and it is an open question whether it can fully vie with either the Lobgesang or Athalie, or still more Elijah. These splendid compositions have that air of distinction which stamps a great work in every art, and which a great master alone can confer. As instances of this, take the scene of the Watchman and the concluding Chorus in the Lobgesang—'Ye nations'; or in Elijah the two double Quartets; the Arioso, 'Woe unto them,' which might be the wail of a pitying archangel; the Choruses, 'Thanks be to God,' 'Be not afraid,' 'He watching over,' 'The Lord passed by'; the great piece of declamation for soprano which opens the second part; the unaccompanied trio 'Lift thine eyes,' the tenor air 'Then shall the righteous.' These are not only fine as music, but are animated by that lofty and truly dramatic character which makes one forget the vehicle, and live only in the noble sentiment of the scene as it passes.
'Lauda Sion,' though owing to circumstances less known, has the same great qualities, and is a worthy setting of the truly inspired hymn in which St. Thomas Aquinas was enabled to rise so high above the metaphysical subtleties of his day. This piece of Roman Catholic music—Mendelssohn's only important one—shows what he might have done had he written a Mass, as he once threatened to do. It would have been 'written with a constant recollection of its sacred purpose'; and remembering how solemn a thing religion was to him, and how much he was affected by fine words, we may well regret that he did not accomplish the suggestion.
Antigone and Œdipus, owing to the remoteness of the dramas, both in subject and treatment, necessarily address themselves to a limited audience, though to that audience they will always be profoundly interesting, not only for the lofty character of the music, but for the able and thoroughly natural manner in which Mendelssohn carried out a task full of difficulties and of temptations to absurdity, by simply 'creating music for the choruses in the good and scientific style of the present day, to express and animate their meaning.'
The Midsummer Night's Dream music is a perfect illustration of Shakspeare's romantic play, and will be loved as long as beauty, sentiment, humour, and exquisite workmanship are honoured in the world.
How far Mendelssohn would have succeeded with an opera, had he met with a libretto entirely to his mind—which that of Loreley was not—it is difficult to say. Fastidious he certainly was, though hardly more so than Beethoven (see vol. i. p. 196b), and probably for much the same reasons. Times had changed since the lively intrigues and thinly-veiled immoralities of Da Ponte were sufficient to animate the pen of the divine Mozart; and the secret of the fastidiousness of Beethoven and Mendelssohn was that they wanted librettists of their own lofty level in genius and morality, a want in which they were many generations too early. Opera will not take its proper place in the world till subjects shall be found of modern times, with which every one can sympathise, treated by the poet, before they come into the hands of the composer, in a thoroughly pure, lofty, and inspiriting manner.
Camacho is too juvenile a composition, on too poor a libretto, to enable any inference to be drawn from it as to Mendelssohn's competence for the stage. But, judging from the dramatic power present in his other works, from the stage-instinct displayed in the M.N.D. music, and still more from the very successful treatment of the Finale to the first Act of Loreley—the only part of the book which he is said really to have cared—for we may anticipate that his opera, when he had found the book he liked, would have been a very fine work. At any rate we may be certain that of all its critics he would have been the most severe, and that he would not have suffered it to be put on the stage till he was quite satisfied with his treatment.
We must now close this long and yet imperfect attempt to set Mendelssohn forth as he was. Few instances can be found in history of a man so amply gifted with every good quality of mind and heart; so carefully brought up amongst good influences; endowed with every circumstance that would make him happy; and so thoroughly fulfilling his mission. Never perhaps could any man be found in whose life there were so few things to conceal and to regret.
Is there any drawback to this? or, in other words, does his music suffer at all from what he calls his 'habitual cheerfulness'? It seems as if there was a drawback, and that arising more or less directly from those very points which we have named as his best characteristics—his happy healthy heart, his single mind, his unfailing good spirits, his simple trust in God, his unaffected directness of purpose. It is not that he had not genius. The great works enumerated prove that he had it in large measure. No man could have called up the new emotions of the M.N.D. Overture, the wonderful pictures of the Hebrides, or the pathetic distress of the lovely Melusina, without genius of the highest order. But his genius had not been subjected to those fiery trials which seem necessary to ensure its abiding possession of the depths of the human heart. 'My music,' says Schubert, 'is the product of my genius and my misery; and that which I have written in my greatest distress is that which the world seems to like best.' Now Mendelssohn was nevermore than temporarily unhappy. He did not know distress as he knew happiness. Perhaps there was even something in the constitution of his mind which forbad his harbouring it, or being permanently affected by it. He was so practical, that as a matter of duty he would have thrown it off. In this as in most other things he was always under control. At any rate he was never tried by poverty, or disappointment, or ill-health, or a morbid temper, or neglect, or the perfidy of friends, or any of the other great ills which crowded so thickly around Beethoven, Schubert, or Schumann. Who can wish that he had been? that that bright, pure, aspiring spirit should have been dulled by distress or torn with agony? It might have lent a deeper undertone to his Songs, or have enabled his Adagios to draw tears where now they only give a saddened pleasure. But let us take the man as we have him. Surely there is enough of conflict and violence in life and in art. When we want to be made unhappy we can turn to others. It is well in these agitated modern days to be able to point to one perfectly balanced nature, in whose life, whose letters, and whose music alike, all is at once manly and refined, clever and pure, brilliant and solid. For the enjoyment of such shining heights of goodness we may well forego for once the depths of misery and sorrow.
The following opening of the first movement of a symphony was found among the loose papers of Mendelssohn belonging to his daughter, Mrs. Victor Benecke, and is here printed by her kind permission. The MS. is in full score, and has been compressed for this occasion by Mr. Franklin Taylor, so as accurately to represent the scoring of the original. No clue to its date has yet been discovered.
The following is obviously intended for the slow movement:
The dates have been obtained in most cases from the autographs, and occasionally from letters or other sources. The autographs are distinguished from the author's own copies by having the initials H.D.m. or L.v.g.G. at the top. [App. p.717 "The dates given in the list are those attached by Mendelssohn to the autograph of the existing form of each work."]
I. WITH OPUS-NUMBER.
Op. 1. Quartet, P.F. and Strings, No. 1 (C min.) || Begun, Secheron, Sept. 20, 1822; ended, Berlin, Oct. 18, 1822. || Ded. Anton, Count Radziwill.
2. Do., do. No. 2 (F min.). || Nov. 19; Nov. 30; Dec. 3, 1823. || Ded. Prof. Zelter.
3. Do., do., No. 3 (B min.). || Oct. 7. 1824; Jan. 3, 1825; at end, Jan. 18, 1825. || Ded. Goethe.
4. Sonata, P.F. and V. (F min.). || Ded. E. Ritz.
5. Capriccio, P.F. (F♯ minor). || Berlin, July 23, 1825.
6. Sonata, P.F. (E). || Berlin, March 22, 1826.
7. Seven Characteristic pieces, P.F. || Ded. Ludwig Berger.
8. 12 Songs (No. 12 Duet), Voice and P.F. Parts 1 and 2.—N.B. Nos. 2, 3, 12 by Fanny M.-B.
9. 12 Songs, Voice and P.F. (Part 1, The Youth; Part 2, The Maiden). || No. 3, Berlin, April 3, 1829 (?).-Nos. 7, 10. 12, by Fanny M.-B.
10. The Wedding of Camacho (Comic Opera in 2 acts). || At end, Aug. 10, 1825.
11. Symphony, Orch., No. 1 (C minor). || 'Sinfonia XIII in c.' March 3, 1824; March 9, 1824; March 31, 1824. || Ded. Philharmonic Society of London.
12. Quartet, Strings, No. 1 (E♭). || London, Sept. 14, 1829.13. Quartet, Strings, No. 2 (A). || 'Quartetto per 2 Violini, Viole, e Violoncello, sopra il tema
14. Rondo capriccioso, P.F. (E). || Finale dated 26 Oct.
15. Fantasie, P.F. (E). On the Irish air ''Tis the last rose.'
16. 3 Fantasies, or Caprices, P.F. (A min., E min., E). || No. 1. Coeddu, Sept. 4, 1829, 'Rosen und Nelken in Menge.' No. 2. Norwood, Surrey. Nov. 18, 1829. No. 3. Sept. 5, 1829.
17. Variations concertantes. P.F. and Cello (D). || Berlin, Jan. 30, 1829. || Ded. Paul M.-B.
18. Quintet. Strings. No. 1 (A), 2 Violas || Andante, 'Nachruf,' Paris. Sept. 23, 1831.
19. 6 Songs, Voice and PF. || No. 6. Venice, Oct. 16, 1830.
19. 6 Songs without words. Book 1. No. 6. 'In a gondola.' || No. 6. Venice, Oct. 16. 1830.
20. Octet, Strings (E♭). (4 Violins, 2 Violas, 2 Cellos.) || Ded. E. Ritz.
21. Concert-overture. No. 1 (E), to A Midsummer Night's Dream. || Berlin, Aug., 1826.
22. Capriccio brillant, P.F. and Orch. (B min.).
23. 3 Pieces Church-music, Solo, Chorus, and Org. 1. Aus tiefer Noth; 2. Ave Maria (á 8); 8. Mitten wir (á 8).
24. Overture, Wind band (C).
25. Concerto, P.F. and Orch. No. 1 (G minor). || Ded. Fräulein D. von Schauroth.
26. Concert-overture, Orch. No. 2 (B min.), 'The Hebrides.' or 'Fingal's cave.' || Ded. Franz Hauser.
27. Do., do. No. 3 (D), 'Calm sea and Prosperous voyage.'
28. Fantasie, P.F. (F♭ minor). ('Sonate ecossaise.') || Berlin, Jan. 29, 1833. || Ded. Prof. Ignaz Moscheles.
29. Rondo brillant, P.F. and Orch. (E♭). || Düsseldorf, Jan. 29, 1834. || Ded. Prof. Ignaz Moscheles.
30. 6 Songs without words, P.F. Book 2. No. 6. 'In a gondola.' || No. 4. Jan. 30, 1837 (? 34); No. 5. Dec. 12, 1833; [No. 6. March 15, 1835). || Ded. Fräulein Elisa von Woringen.
31. 115th Psalm, Solo, Chorus, and Orch. || Rome, Nov. 15, 1830.
32. Concert-overture, Orch. No. 4 (F). (To the story of the lovely Melusina.) || Düsseldorf, Nov. 14, 1833.
33. 3 Caprices, P.F. (A minor, E, B♭ min.). || No. 1. April 9, 1834. No. 3. London, July 25, 1833. || Ded. C. Klingemann.
34. 6 Songs, Voice and P.F. || No. 1. Düsseldorf, May 11, 1834, 'Mailied.' No. 5. Dec. 28, 1834. || Ded. Fräulein Julie Jeanrenaud.
35. 6 Preludes and Fugues, P.F. || No. 2. Prel., Leipzig. Dec. 6–8. 1836. No. 3. Fugue, Berlin, Sept. 21, 1832. No.4. Fugue, Düsseldorf, Jan. 5, 1835. No. 5. Prel., Leipzig, Nov. 19, 1836; Fugue, Düsseldorf, Dec. 3, 1834. No. 6. Prel., Leipzig, Jan. 3, 1837; Fugue, Nov. 27, 1836.
36. St. Paul. Oratorio. Part 1. Leipzig, April 8, 1836; Part 2. Do., April 18, do.
37. 3 Preludes and Fugues. Organ. || No. 1. Prel., Spires, April 2, 1837. No. 2. Prel., Spires, April 4, 1837; Fugue, Leipzig, Dec. 1, 1837. No. 3. Prel., Spires, April 6, 1837. || Ded. Thos. Attwood.
38. 6 Songs without words. P.F. (Book 3.) No. 6. 'Duet.' || No. 5. Spires, April 5, 1837. No. 6. Frankfort, June 27, 1836. || Ded. Fräuleln Rosa von Woringen.
39. 3 Motets. Female voices & Organ or P.F. Nos. 1 and 2, 2 Sop. and Alto; No. 3. 2 Sop, 2 Altos with Solo. || Rome, Dec. 31, 1830. 'Für die Stimmen der Nonnen auf Sta. Trinitá de' Monti.'
40. Concerto, P. F. and Orch. No. 2 (D minor). || Horchheim, Aug. 5, 1837.
41. 6 Part-songs, for open air (1st set). S.A.T.B. || No.4. Düsseldorf, Jan. 22, 1834.
42. 42nd Psalm, for Chorus and Orch.
43. Serenade and Allegro giojoso for P.F. and Orch. (B minor). || April 11, 1838.
44. 3 Quartets, Strings. Nos. 3, 4, and 5 (D, E minor, E♭). || No. 3. Berlin. July 24, 1838. No. 4. June 18, 1837. No. 5. Feb. 6, 1838. || Ded. The Prince of Sweden.
45. Sonata, P.F. and Cello, No. 1 (B♭). || Leipzig, Oct. 13, 1838.
46. 95th Psalm. Solo, Chorus, and Orch. || April 6, 1838.
47. 6 Songs, Voice and P.F. || No. 3. Leipzig. April 17, 1839. No. 4. April 18, 1839. || Ded. Frau C. Schleinitz.
48. 6 Part-songs, for open air (2nd set)'. S.A.T.B. || No. 1. July 5, . No. 3. Leipzig, Dec. 28, 1839. No. 4. June 15, . No. 5. Nov. 18, 1839. No. 6. Leipzig, Dec. 26, 1839. || Ded. Dr. Martin and Dr. Spiess.
49. Trio, P.F., V, and C. No. 1 (D min.). || Allegro, Frankfort, June 6, 1839. Finale, Frankfort, July 18, 1839; Leipzig, Sept. 23, 1839.
50. 6 Part-songs, for male voices. (No.2. Der Jäger Abschied, with Wind accompaniments.) || No. 2. Leipzig, Jan. 6. 1840; 'Der deutsche Wald.' No. 5. Dec. 7, 1839; 'Vin á tout prix.' No. 6. Jan. 6, 1840. || Ded. to the Liedertafel in Leipzig.
51. 114th Psalm, Chor., 8 pts., and Orch. || Ded. J. W. Schirmer.
52. Lobgesang, Symphony-cantata, || Leipzig, Nov. 27, 1840. || Ded. Frederic Augustus, King of Saxony.
53. 6 Songs without words, P.F. (Bk. 4.) No. 5. Volkslied. || No. 3. April 30. 1841. No. 6. May 1, 1841. || Ded. Miss Sophie Horsley.
54. 17 Variations serieuses, P.F. (D minor). || June 4, 1841.
55. Music to Antigone of Sophocles, Male voices and Orch. || Ded. Frederick William IV. King of Prussia. || Berlin, Oct. 10, 1841.
56. Symphony, Orch. No. 3 (A minor). (Called The Scotch Symphony.)}} Berlin, Jan. 20, 1842. || Ded. Queen Victoria.
57. 6 Songs, Voice and P.F. (For No. 2 compare Op. 88, No. 3.) || No. 2. April 20, 1839. No. 5. Berlin. Oct. 17, 1842; 'Rendezvous.' No. 6. April 29, 1841; 'Frische Fahrt.' || Ded. Frau Livia Frege.
58. Sonata, P.F. and Cello No. 2 (D). || Ded. Count Mathias Wielhorsky.
59. 6 Part-songs, for open air (3rd set). S.A.T.B. || No. 1. Leipzig. Nov. 23, 1837. No. 2. Jan. 17, 1843. No. 3. Leipzig, March 4, 1843. No. 4. Leipzig, June 19, 1843. No. 5. March 4, 1843. No. 6. March 5, 1843; 'Vorüber.' || Ded. Frau Henriette Benecke.
60. Music to Goethe's First Walpurgis night. 'Ballad for Chorus and Orch.' || 1st version, Milan, July 15, 1831, and Paris, Feb. 13, 1832.
61. Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, Solo, Chorus, and Orch. || || Ded. Heinrich Conrad Schleinitz.
62. 6 Songs without words, P.F. (Bk. 5.) No. 5. 'In a gondola.' || No. 1. Jan. 6 and 12, 1844. No. 2. July 29, 1843. No. 6. London, June 1, 1842. || Ded. Frau Clara Schumann.
63. 6 Duets, Voices and P.F. || No. 1. Frankfort, Dec. 1836. No. 5. Berlin, Oct. 17, 1842. No. 6. Jan. 23, 1844.
64. Concerto, Violin and Orch. (E minor). || Sept. 16, 1844.
65. 6 Organ Sonatas. || Son. I. No. 1 Frankfort, Dec. 28, 1844. Son. II. No. 1. Frankfort, Dec. 21, 1844. No. 4. Dec. 19, 1844. Son. III. No. 1. Aug. 9, 1844. No. 2. Aug. 17, 1844. Son. IV. No. 1. Frankfort, Jan. 2, 1845. No. 2. Ib., Jan. 2, 1845. Son. VI. No. 1. Jan. 6, 1845. No. 4. Jan. 27. 1845. || Ded. Dr. F. Schlemmer.
66. Trio, P.F., Violin, and Cello. No. 2 (C min.) || Ded. L. Spohr.
67. 6 Songs without words, P.F. (Bk. 6.) || No. 1. June 29, 1843. No. 2. Frankfort, May 3, 1845. No. 3. Nov. 23 (?). No. 5. Jan. 5, 1844. || Ded. Fräulein Sophie Rosen.
68. Festgesang. Schiller's poem, An die Kunstler. Male voices and Brass. || For Opening of first German-Flemish Vocal Festival at Cologne.
69. 3 Motets for Solo and Chorus. || No. 1. Baden Baden, June 12, 1847. No. 2. Leipzig, April 5, 1847. No. 3. Baden Baden, June 12, 1847.
70. Elijah, Oratorio.
71. 6 Songs, for Voice and P.F. || No. 1. Leipzig. Dec. 22, 1845. No. 2. Frankfort, April 3, 1845. No. 3. Leipzig, Sept. 22, 1847. No. 4. Berlin. Nov. 3, 1842. No. 5. Interlaken, July 27, 1847. No. 6. Oct. 1, 1847.
72. 6 Children's pieces, P.F.
73 (1). Lauda Sion, for Chorus and Orch. || Feb. 10, 1846. || For St, Martin's church, Liége.
74 (2). Music to Racine's Athalie. Solos, Chor., and Orch. || Choruses, Leipzig, July 4, 1843. Overture, London, June 13, 1844. Berlin, Nov. 12, 1845.
75 (3). 4 Part-songs, Male voices. || No. 1. Feb. 8, 1844. No. 2. Nov. 14, 1839.
76 (4). 4 Part-songs, Male voices. || No. 2. Feb. 9, 1844. No. 3. Leipzig, Oct. 8, 1846.
77 (5). 3 Duets, Voices and P.F. || No. 1. Leipzig, Dec. 3. 1836. No. 2. Leipzig, Jan. 18, 1847. No. 3. Leipzig, Feb. 14, 1839.
78 (6). 3 Psalms—the 2nd, 43rd, 22nd, Solo and Chorus. || No. 2. Berlin. Jan. 17. 1844. || For the Domchor, Berlin.
79 (7). 6 Anthems for 8-pt. Chorus. || No. 2. Berlin, Dec. 25, 1843. No. 4. Feb. 14, 1844. No. 5. Leipzig, Oct. 5, 1846. || For the Domchor, Berlin.
80 (8). Quartet. Strings (F minor). || Interlaken, Sept. 1847.
81 (9). Andante (E), Scherzo (A min.), Capriccio (E min.), and Fugue (E♭), for Strings.
82 (10). Variations, P.F. (E♭). || Leipzig, July 25, 1841.
83 (11). Variations, P.F. (B♭).
83a (12). Do., for 4 hands (B♭).
84(13). 3 Songs, for a low voice and P. F. || No. 1. Düsseldorf, Dec. 5, 1831. No. 2. Feb. 26, 1839. No. 3. May 25, 1834. 'Jagdlied.'
85 (14). 6 Songs without words, P.F. (Bk. 7.) || No. 4. Frankfort. May 3 and 6, 1845. No. 5. Ib., May 7, 1845; In Hon. Miss Cavendish's album, London, May 6, 1847. No. 6. May 1, 1841.
86 (15). 6 Songs. Voice and P.F. || No. 3. Unterseen, Aug. 10, 1831. No. 6. Oct. 7, 1847.
87 (16). Quintet, Strings (2 Violas) (B♭). || Soden, July 8, 1845.
88 (17). 6 Part-songs. (4th set.) || No. 1. Aug. 8. 1844. No. 2. Leipzig, June 20, 1843. No. 3. June 14, , No. 4. Leipzig, June 19, 1843. No. 6. Leipzig, March 10, 1840.
89 (18). Heimkehr aus der Fremde (Son and Stranger), Singspiel in 1 act.
90 (19). Symphony, Orch. No. 4 (A). (Called the Italian Symphony.) || Berlin. March 13, 1833.
91 (20). 98th Psalm, 8-pt. Chorus, and Orch. || Dec. 27, 1843. || For the Festival Service in Berlin Cathedral on New Year's Day 1844.
92 (21). Allegro brillant. P.F., 4 hands (A). || Leipzig, March 23, 1841.
93 (22). Music to Oedipus in Colonos, Sophocles, Male Voices and Orch. || Frankfort, Feb. 25, 1845.
94 (23). Concert-air, Sopr. Solo, and Orch. (B♭). (Infelice!) || 1st vers. with V. obbl., Ap. 3, 1834. 2nd vers., Leipzig, Jan. 15, 1843.
95 (24). Overture, Ruy Blas, Orch. || Leipzig, March 8, 1839.
96 (25). Hymn for Alto Solo, Chor., and Orch., for Mr. C. Broadley. || Leipzig, Dec. 12, 1840; Jan. 5, 1843. Comp. '3 Hymns,' etc.
97 (26). Recitatives and Choruses from Christus, unfinished Oratorio.
981 (27a). Finale to 1st act of Loreley, unfinished Opera. Solo, Chorus, and Orch.
982 (27b). Ave Maria. Solo and Chorus, Female Voices, Orch., from Loreley.
983 (27c). Vintage Chorus, Male Voices, Orch., from Loreley.
99 (28). 6 Songs. Voice and P.F. || No. 1. Berlin, Aug. 9, 1841. No. 4. June 6, 1841. No. 5. Leipzig, Dec. 22, 1845. No. 6.
100 (29). 4 Part-songs. || No. 1. Aug. 8, 1844. No. 2. June 20, 1843. No. 4. Frankfort, June 14, 1839.
101 (30). Overture, Orchestra (C). ('Trumpet overture.')
102 (31). 6 Songs without words. P.F. (Bk. 8.) || No. 2. Frankfort, May 11, 1845, Pfingsten; in Lady Caroline Cavendish's album, London, May 6, 1847. No. 3. Dec. 12, 1845. (Kinderstück.) No. 5. Dec. 12, 1845. (Kinderstück.)
103 (32). Trauer-Marsch, Orch. (A min.). || For Funeral of Norbert Burgmüller.
104 (33). 3 Preludes and 3 Studies, P.F. (2Pts.)
105 (34). Sonata, P.F. (G min.) 1821.
106 (35). Sonata. P.F. (Bb). || Berlin. May 31, 1827.
107 (36). Symphony, Orch. No. 5 (D). (The Reformation Symph.)
108 (37). March, Orch. (D). || For the Fête given to the painter Cornelius at Dresden.
109 (38). Song without words, Cello and P.F. (D).
110 (39). Sextet. P.F., Viol, 2 Violas, Cello, and Bass (D). || April 30, 1824; May 10, 1824.
111 (40). Tu es Petrus, 5-pt. Chor. and Orch. || Nov. 1827.
l12 (41). 2 Sacred Songs, Voice and P.F.
113 & 114 (42 & 43). 2 Concerted pieces for Clar. and Basset-horn, with P.F. accompt. (F and D min.). || No. 1. Berlin. Jan. 19, 1833. || Ded. Heinrich Bärmann, sen., and Carl Bärmann, jun.
115 (44). 2 8acred Choruses, for Male Voices.
116 (45). Funeral Song, for Mixed Voices.
117 (46). Album-Blatt, Song without words, P.F. (E min.).
118 (47). Capriccio, P.F. (E).
119 (48). Perpetuum mobile, P.F. (C).
II. WITHOUT OPUS-NUMBER.
Etude, P.F. (F min.). || For the Méthode des Méthodes.
Scherzo, P.F. (B min.).
Scherzo and Capriccio, P.F. (F♭ min.). || For The Pianists' Album.
2 Romances of Lord Byron's, Voice and P.F. || No. 2. Düsseldorf, Dec. 31, 1834. || For the Album of 1838.
Prayer, Chorus and Orch. (Verleih' uns Frieden. || Rome, Feb. 10. 1831. || Ded. President Verkenius.
Andante cantabile and Presto agitato, P.F. (B). || Berlin, June 22, 1838. || For the Album of 1839.
The Garland, a poem by Moore, for Voice and P.F. || London, May 24, 1829.
Ersatz für Unbestand, poem by Rückert, for 4 Male Voices. || Nov. 22, 1839. || For Tauchnitz's Musen-almanach.
Festgesang, Male Chor. and Orch. || For Festival at Leipzig in celebration of invention of Printing.
Gondellied, P.F. (A). || Leipzig, Feb. 5, 1837, 'Lied auf einer Gondel.'
3 Volkslieder, 2 Voices and P.F.
'Lord have mercy upon us,' Chorus for Evening Service. Voices only (A minor). || For Mr. Attwood. Berlin, March 24, 1833. || In the Album für Gesang.
Prelude and Fugue, P.F. (E min.). || Prel., Leipzig, July 13. 1841. Fugue, June 16, 1827. || For the Album Notre temps.
3 Hymns for Alto Solo, Chorus, and Organ. Comp. op. 96.
Hymn for Sop. Solo, Chorus, and Organ. (Hear my prayer.) || Jan. 25, 1844. Afterwards orchestrated. || Ded. W. Taubert.
Warnung vor dem Rhein, poem by Simrock, Voice and P.F.
2 Songs, Voice and P.F. || No. 1. Berlin, Aug. 17, 1835.
2 Songs, Voice and P.F. || No. 1. April 20, 1841.
2 Clavierstücke (B♭ and G min.).
Seemann's Scheidelied, poem by Hoffmann v. Fallersleben, Voice and P.F.
Nachtgesang, 4 Male Voices.
Die Stiftungsfeier, 4 Male Voices.
Des Mädchens Klage, Romance for Voice and P.F.
Kyrie eleison. Mixed Voices, Dble. Chorus. (Deutsche Liturgie), Oct. 28, 1846.
Duo concertant, Variations upon the March in Preciosa, by Mendelssohn and Moscheles.
III. NOT INCLUDED IN THE THEMATIC CATALOGUE.
Handel's Dettingen Te Deum, with addl. accts. Score and pts. Kistner.
Handel's Acis and Galatea, with ditto. Chorus and string pts. only. Novello.
Præludium for the Organ (C minor). || Leipzig, July 9, 1841. || For Henry E. Dibdin, Esq. (In facsimile, Patersons, Edinburgh).
Bach's Chaconne, with P.F. acct. Ewer, Novello, & Co.
Additional Chorus to the 95th Psalm (op. 46). Novello.
String Quartet in E♭ (March 5–30, 1823). Erler. Berlin. Autograph in British Museum.
The latest publication was the Quartet in E♭ (1823), which appeared in December 1879, and was first played in England at the Monday Popular Concert of Jan. 5, 1880. The green volumes in the Library at Berlin (1820–1847), already mentioned, contain a great many pieces not published either in the first or second series of the posthumous works, or elsewhere. The unpublished pieces are mostly in autograph, and principally before 1830. They comprise 11 Symphonies for Strings, and one for full orchestra; many Fugues for Strings; Concertos for P.F., for Violin, for P.F. and Violin, with Quartet; and 2 ditto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra; a Trio for P.F., Violin, and Viola; 2 Sonatas for P.F. and Violin (one of them 1838); one ditto P.F. and Viola; one ditto P.F. and Clarinet; 2 ditto for P.F. solo; many Studies, Fantasias (one for 4 hands), Fugues, etc., for P.F. solo; many Fugues for Organ; an organ part to Handel's 'Solomon'; 5 Operas, and music to Calderon's 'Steadfast Prince'; 1 secular and 3 sacred Cantatas; various Motets, and many Songs and vocal pieces.
The Mendelssohn literature is not yet very extensive.
I. His own letters.
Two volumes have been published by authority. The first by his brother Paul—'Reisebriefe … aus den Jahren 1830 bis 1832' (Leipzig 1861); the second by his brother and his eldest son—'Briefe aus den Jahren 1833 bis 1847' (Leipzig 1863), with an Appendix purporting to be a List of all Mendelssohn's compositions, by Julius Rietz, which is however both vague and incomplete. These were translated (not adequately) by Lady Wallace—'Letters from Italy and Switzerland,' etc., and 'Letters,' etc. (Longmans 1862 and 1863). At a later date some important letters were added to the German edition of vol. ii., amongst others one containing Mendelssohn's translations of Dante, Boccaccio, etc., and Indexes were appended; but no change has been made in the contents of the English translation. There is reason to believe that the letters of vol. i. were in many ways altered by the Editor; and it is very desirable that a new edition should be published in which these changes should be rectified, and the letters given as Mendelssohn wrote them.
(2) Eight letters published for the benefit of the Deutschen Invaliden-Stiftung—'Acht Briefe …' (Leipzig 1871). The name of the lady to whom they are written is suppressed, but it is understood that she was Mrs. Voigt, a musical amateur of Leipzig. The last of the eight contains a facsimile of a sketch by Mendelssohn.
(3) 'Musiker Briefe,' by Nohl (Leipzig 1867), contains 30 letters by Mendelssohn, from 1826 to Aug. 26, 1847. They are included by Lady Wallace in her translation of the entire work—'Letters of distinguished musicians' (Longmans 1867).
(4) Other letters are contained in Devrient's Recollections; Hiller's Mendelssohn; Goethe and Mendelssohn; Polko's Reminiscences; Hensel's Die Familie Mendelssohn; Moscheles' Life; Chorley's Life; [App. p.717 "Eckardt's 'David,' F. Moscheles, 'Briefe'"] and other works named below.
II. Biographical works.
(1) Lampadius. 'F.M.B. ein Denkmal,' etc. (Leipzig 1848), translated into English by W. L. Gage, with supplementary sketches, etc. (New York 1866; London 1878).
(2) Benedict. 'A Sketch of the Life and Works of the late Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy,' by Jules Benedict London 1850; 2nd ed., with additions, 1853). A sketch by one who knew him well; attractive and, as far as it goes, complete.
(3) Devrient. 'Meine Erinnerungen an F.M.B.… von Eduard Devrient' (Leipzig 1869). Translated into English by Mrs. Macfarren (London 1869). Containing 32 letters and portions of letters. The work of an old and intimate friend, but written with all the impartiality of a stranger.
(4) Carl Mendelssohn Bartholdy. 'Goethe und Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy' (Leipzig 1871). By the composer's eldest son; an account of the three visits paid to Goethe, from journals, letters, etc., with a poor engraving from Begas's portrait. In English by Miss M. E. von Glehn—'Goethe and Mendelssohn, with additions and with letters of later date' (London 1872); 2nd ed. 'with additional letters,' 37 in all (1874).
(5) Ferdinand Hiller. 'Mendelssohn. Letters and Recollections,' etc., first published in Macmillan's Magazine (Jan.–May 1874) in English by Miss M. E. von Glehn. Then in a volume (London 1874); and then in German (Cologne 1874). Contains 20 letters not hefore printed. A thoroughly good book, genial, discriminating, and accurate; by one well able to judge.
(6) Polko. 'Erinnerungen an F. M. B. von Elise Polko' (Leipzi 1868). Contains 12 letters. English translation by Lady Wallace—'Reminiscences,' etc. (London 1869), with Appendix of 33 additional letters and fragments of letters. A poor gushing book, from which however some traits may be picked up. Chiefly valuable for the letters.
(7) Hensel. 'Die Familie Mendelssohn (1729–1847) … von S. Hensel, mit 8 Portraits' (3 vols., Berlin 1879). By the son or Fanny Hensel—the Sebastian of the Letters; compiled from journals and family papers, and containing 73 letters or portions of letters hitherto unpublished. The title of the book would perhaps be more appropriately 'Fanny Hensel and her family'; but it is a most valuable addition to our knowledge of Felix, and a good specimen of the copious information still remaining in the hands of his family: the notices and letters of Abraham Mendelssohn are especially new and valuable. Some of Felix's letters are first-rate. The portraits would be useful if one knew how far the likenesses could be trusted.
(8) Hogarth. 'The Philharmonic Society of London … by George Hogarth' (London 1862). Contains notices of Mendelssohn's connection with the Philharmonic, with 3 letters in the body of the work and 7 others in the appendix.
(9) Moscheles. 'Aus Moscheles Leben … von seiner Frau (2 vols., Leipzig 1872 and 1873). English translation by A. D. Coleridge (2 vols., Hurst & Blackett, 1873). Contains many valuable notices, and one or two letters.
(10) Schubring. 'Erinnerungen an F.M.B.' In the Magazine 'Daheim' (Leipzig) for 1866, No. 26. English translation in 'Musical World,' May 12 and 19, 1866. One of the most detailed, valuable, and interesting of all the notices. Every word that Schubring writes carries conviction with it.
(11) Horsley. 'Reminiscences of Mendelssohn, by Charles Edward Horsley.' First published in 'Dwight's Journal of Music' (Boston, U.S.A.), and reprinted in 'The Choir' (London) for Jan. 11, 25, Feb. 8, 15, 1873. By a gifted pupil and friend. Full of information, now and then a trifle exaggerated.
(12) Dorn. 'Recollections of F. M. and his friends.' An article in 'Temple Bar' for Feb. 1872; probably translated from a German original. Slight, but interesting, and apparently trustworthy.
(13) Chorley. 1. 'Modern German Music,' by Henry F. Chorley (2 vols., London 1854). Contains scattered notices of Mendelssohn. 2. 'Memoirs of H. F. Chorley, by H. G. Hewlett' (2 vols., Bentley 1873). Contains some information, and 6 letters before unpublished. 3. Notice prefixed to Lady Wallace's translation of the 'Reisebriefe.'
(14) Marx. 'Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben, von Adolf Bernhard Marx' (2 vols., Berlin 1865). Contains many recollections of the Mendelssohn house from 1824–1832, and personal anecdotes of Felix, with whom Marx was at one time extremely intimate. He was a person of strange temper and overweening opinion of himself: but he appears to be strictly honest, and in matters of fact may probably be trusted implicitly.
(15) Rellstab. 'Aus meinem Leben' (2 vols., Berlin 1861). This autobiography of the well-known Berlin critic contains (vol. ii, chap. 11) an account of Mendelssohn's playing at Goethe's house at Weimar in 1821.
(16) Lobe has reported some conversations with Mendelssohn in his 'Fliegende Blätter für musik' (Leipzig 1853). He has also described the evening at Goethe's mentioned just above, in the 'Gartenlaube' for 1867, No. 1.
[App. p.717 "(17). Eckardt, 'Ferdinand David und die Familie Mendelssohn-Bartholdy … von Julius Eckardt' (Leipzig, 1888), contains 30 letters by F.M.B.
(18). Felix Moscheles, 'Briefe von F. M. B. an Ignaz und Charlotte Moscheles … von Felix Moscheles,' Leipzig, 1888, contains many fresh letters by F.M.B."]
I take the opportunity of expressing my deep obligations for assistance received in the compilation of the foregoing article from the various members of the Mendelssohn family, Miss Jung and Dr. Klengel; Mme. Schumann, Dr. Hiller, Mrs. Moscheles, Mme. Frege, Dr. Hartel, Dr. Schleinitz, Mr. Joachim, Mrs. Klingemann, Herr Taubert, Mr. Otto Goldschmidt and Mme. Goldschmidt, Mr. Paul David, the Bishop of Limerick, the Duke of Meiningen, Lord Frederick Cavendish, the Dean of Westminster, Professor Munro, Mr. J. C. Horsley, R.A., and Miss Sophy Horsley, Mr. Chas. Halle, Signer Piatti, Mr. W. S. Rockstro, Mr. Kellow Pye, Prof. G. A. Macfarren, Mr. Sartoris, Mr. W. J. Freemantle, Mr. A. G. Kurtz, Mrs. Bartholomew and Miss Mounsey, Mr. Wiener, Mr. Rosenthal, Mr. Franklin Taylor. Also from the Sterndale Bennett family, Mr. Bruzaud (of Erard's), Mr. J. W. Davison, Mr. James C. Dibdin, Messrs. Glen, Mr. A. J. Hipkins (of Broadwood's) Mr. E. J. Hopkins, Mr. W. H. Holmes, Mr. W. H. Husk, Mr. E. J. Lincoln, Mr. H. Littleton (Novello's), Mr. Stanley Lucas, Mr. Julian Marshall, Mr. John Newman, Mr. Joseph Robinson, Mme. Sainton- Dolby, Mr. Speyer, Mr. Tom Taylor, Mr. J. T. Willy, and Mr. Turle.
[ G. ]
- N.B. The following abbreviations are used for the references in this article:—F.M.—'Die Familie Mendelssohn,' Berlin 1879; Dev.—'Devrient's Recollections,' London 1869; L.i.—Letters from Italy and Switzerland 'Reisebriefe'; L.ii.—Letters from 1833 to 47. When the original is referred to the title 'Briefe,' i. or ii. is used; H.—Hiller's Mendelssohn, London 1874; G. & M.-Goethe and Mendelssohn. 2nd ed., London 1874; B.—Benedict's Sketch, London 1853; Mos.—Moscheles's Life, London 1873; C.—Chorley's Life, London 1873; P.—Polko's Reminiscences, London 1869; Sch.—Schubring's Errinerungen, in 'Dahelm,' 1866, No. 26; C.E.H.—C. E. Horsley's Reminiscences, in 'The Choir' for Jan. and Feb. 1873; Dorn—Recollections of Mendelssohn and his friends by Dr. Heinrich Dorn, in 'Temple Bar' for Feb. 1872; A.M.Z.—'Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung' (Leipzig); N.M.Z. 'Neue musikalische Zeitung,' Schumann's paper (Leipzig).
- Ferdinand David, destined to become so great a friend of Mendelssohn's, was born in the same house the year after. The house is at the corner of the Brunnenstrasse, and is now, through the affectionate care of Mr. and Madame Otto Goldschmidt, decorated with a memorial tablet over the front door.
- Dutch (Hague 1769); French, 2 versions (Paris 1772, Berlin 1772); Italian, 2 do. (Chur 1773, Parma 1800); Danish (Copenhagen 1779); Hebrew (Berlin 1786); English (London 17S9); also Russian, Polish, and Hungarian. It is a curious evidence of the slowness with which music penetrates into literary circles in England, that the excellent article on Moses Mendelssohn in the Penny Cyclopedia, from which the words in the text are quoted, though published in 1839, makes no mention of Felix, though he had then been four times in this country. The Phädon attracted the notice of no less a person than Mirabeau—'Sur M. Mendelssohn,' etc., London 1787.
- Dev. 2.
- F.M. i. 83.
- Felix's letter, Feb. 1, 1831; Fanny's do., F.M. II 127.
- F.M. i. 83.
- 'Früher war ich der Sohn meines Vaters, jetzt bin ich der Vater meines Sohnes' (F.M. i. 77). Said Talleyrand:—'L'on disait il y a douze ans que M. de St. Aulaire etoit beau père de M. de Gazes; l'on dit maintenant que M. de Gazes est gendre de M. de St. Aulaire.'—Macaulay's Life. i. 232.
- Elsewhere he describes himself as a mere dash, a gedankenstrich (—) between father and son. (F.M. i. 367.)
- Letters. ii. 66, 88; F.M. i. 84, 87, 91; 347–386.
- Letter, March 23, 1835.
- Briefe. ii. 106; Dec. 9, 1835.
- F.M. i. 424. Compare 349.
- Hiller, p. 3.
- Dev. 38.
- Devrient gives an instance or two of it; see p. 8, and 67 note.
- Letter, Jan. 13, 1843. See too Nov. 4, 1834.
- Benedict, p. 6.
- Father of Paul Heyse the novelist.
- Schubring, 374 a.
- A.M.Z. 1818, p. 791.
- Dev. p. 2.
- Words by Dr. Caspar (Dev. p. 5)
- H. 32.
- See details in 'Goethe and Mendelssohn.' See also Rellstab, 'aus meinem Leben,' ii. 135; and Lobe, in 'Once a Week' for 1807.
- G. & M. 33.
- Zelter, in G. & M. 35.
- F.M. i. 130; Dev. 10.
- F.M. 100.
- Dev. 11.
- F.M. i. 129.
- A.M.Z. 1822, 273; 1823, 55.
- F.M. ii. 45.
- It seems that he accompanied the quartet symphonies on the piano. Dorn, in his Recollections, expressly says so, and the slow movement of the Symphony No. 10 contains a note in Mendelssohn's own writing. 'Das Klavier mit dem Basse,' which seems to prove it. The practice therefore did not end with last century, as has been supposed (On the growth of the Modern Orchestra, Mus. Association 1878–9, p. 37). Indeed, as we shall see, Mendelssohn conducted from the Piano at the Philharmonic in 1829.
- F.M. i. 137.
- Dev. 4.
- F.M. i. 140; Dorn, 391.
- Or Ritz, as Mendelssohn always spells it. He seems to have been on the whole Felix's most intimate early friend.
- Sch. 375.
- Finished Jan. 13, 1825.
- Moscheles Leben. i. 93; 11. 161.
- F.M. i. 144.
- Hiller, pp. 5, 6.
- Dorn, p. 398.
- Marx, 'Erinnerungen,' ii. 117, confirmed to me by the Duke of Meiningen, Taubert, Schleinitz, Klengel, Davison, and others.
- Letter. Nov. 22, 1830.
- Errin. ii. 185.
- F.M. i. 146.
- G. & M. p. 43.
- F.M. i. 149, and MS. letter.
- G. & M. 48.
- Marx (Errin. ii. 113, 114) says that the father's hesitation as to his son's future was so great, that, even to a late date, he constantly urged him to go into business. He believed that his son had no genius for music, and that it was all the happier for him that he had not.
- Zelter's Letters, iv. 35; G. & M. 49.
- 'An Dickigkeit alles übertrifft.'
- For the details see G. & M. 50.
- F.M. i. 142.
- The large yew-tree which stood close outside the Gartenhaus and was endangered by the extension of the new building, was preserved by the special order of the Emperor, and is still (1879) vigorous, and as gloomy as a yew should be.
- Dev. 20.
- It was played 14 times at the Monday Popular Concerts between 1859 and 1878.
- F.M. i. 154.
- A.M.Z. xxvii. p. 825. The autograph was once in possession of Mr. Schleinitz. From him it went into the omnivorous maw of Julius Bletz, and was probably sold by his executors; but to whom? The MS. In our Philharmonic library is a copy with corrections by Mendelssohn.
- Zelter, letter of June 6. This MS. too seems to have disappeared.
- The first letter that I have found dated from the Leipziger Strasse, 'am 7 July 1826, im Garten,' says, 'to-day or to-morrow I shall begin to dream the Midsummer night's dream.'
- Dev. 35. Marx, Errin. ii. 231–3.
- Prof. Macfarren, Philharmonic book, April 30, 1877.
- Reissmann 62.
- F.M. i. 156. Felix's MS. letter from Stettin. Feb. 17, 1827, to the first in which his father is addressed as 'Herr Stadtrath.'
- 'My friend, your ideas must be grand—grand as that dome.' Marx, Errin. i. 247.
- 'For God's sake,' says he in 1843 to Mr. Bartholomew, 'do not let my old sin of Camacho's Wedding be stirred up again!' (Polko, by Lady Wallace, p. 217.) In the same manner in 1835 he protests to Mrs. Volgt against the performance of his C minor Symphony—at least without the explanation that it wat written by a boy of barely 15. (Acht Briefe, etc., p. 20.)
- Written for his mother's birthday, March 15, 1826. See 'Ueber Land und Meer,' 1873, No. 36.
- See the two letters to Verkenius, Aug. 14 and 23, 1841; also one to Hlller. March 25, 1843 (H. p. 207), and far more strongly in many an unpublished letter.
- Schubring, 375a.
- I cannot obtain the exact date.
- Schubring, 374b.
- 'Das Mädchen von Andros, eine Komödie des Terentius, in den Versmassen des Originals ubersetzt von F***. Mit Einleitung und Anmerkungen herausgegeben von K. W. L. Heyse. Angehängt ist die 9te Satire des Horatius, ubersetzt von dem Herausgeber. Berlin 1826. Bel Ferdinand Dümmler.' The preface is dated 'July 1826.'
- One course of these was on Music. Zelter, in G. & M. 54.
- They are given in their place in the later editions of the Letters, vol. ii.
- Father of Max Müller, and author of Schubert's 'Schöne Müllerin.'
- For instances of this see Dorn, and also Gathy in N.M.Z. 1848.
- Marx Errin. ii. 138.
- Louis Heydemann was a very eccentric person. He possessed many MSS. of Mendelssohn's—amongst others the Sonata in E (op. 7) and the Cello variations (op. 17). These—10 in number, dating from 1824 to 29—are now all in the poseession of Dr. Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.
- F. M. i. 161–166.
- F. M. i. 180, 181.
- Schubring, 375a.
- A.M.Z. 1828, p. 364.
- F.M. i. 189.
- Karasowski, chap. iv.
- F.M. i. 194.
- F.M. i. 199.
- F.M. i. 199, compared with Devrieut, 161.
- Sometimes it lies as smooth as a mirror, without waves, breakers, or noise … sometimes it is so wild and furious that I dare not go in.'
- Dev. 46.
- They began about the end of January. F.M. i. 204.
- Dev. 57.
- See his letter to Ganz, in G. & M. 186.
- A.M.Z. 1829, 256.
- Marx, Errin. ii. 75.
- F.M. i. 186.
- Corr. with Goethe, letter 641.
- L. April, 16. 1835.
- 'My great journey' he calls it, G. & M. 100, 187.
- Letter, Feb. 21, 1832.
- The corner of Bidinghouse Street, now, and since 1858, numbered 79.
- F.M. i. 228.
- Hogarth, 51. The letter is in French.
- The autograph of the Symphony—in the green cloth boards so familiar to those who know his MS. scores—is now in the Society's Library.
- See the statement to this effect in the A.M.Z. for 1836, p. 337.
- Letter to Mad. Goldschmidt.
- See F.M. i. 232. and Dev. 81, 82.
- F.M. i. 227, dated June 7.
- First played at the Philharmonic by Mrs. Anderson four years later, June 16. 1834.
- On the authority of Mr. W. H. Husk.
- This was suggested by Mendelssohn's uncle Nathan, who lived in Silesia, to his brother Abraham, and by him communicated to Felix. (F.M. i. 236.)
- See Felix's letters describing this, July 10, 16, and 17 (F.M. i. 233–240); also Moscheles' Life, i. 227. The autograph of the Concerto is dated Oct. 17, 1823.
- F.M. i. 230.
- Dev. 78.
- F.M. i. 236.
- They can be traced by Felix's sketches.
- F.M. i. 240.
- F.M. i. 240; Hogarth, 77. I owe the date to the kindness of Mr. Glen of Edinburgh.
- F.M. i. 244.
- 10 of the present score, as he afterwards diminished the notation by one half. A facsimile is given in F.M. i. 257.
- Both Allegros are in 6-8, and the Andante is repeated at the end of each. The piece is dated Coed-du, Sept. 4.
- This piece was long a favourite of his. A water-colour drawing by Schirmer, inspired by Felix's playing of it, is still in the possession of the family (Dev. 175). [App. p.716 "the MS. is headed 'Am Bach,' and the tradition of the Taylors is that it depicts the actual stream, its waterfalls, broad shallows, and other features."]
- The account given above of the origin and intention of these three pieces (op. 16) is confirmed by a letter of his own printed in F.M. i. 279. The autograph of No. 1 is headed 'Nelken und Bosen in menge'—Carnations and Roses in plenty.
- Compare Mos. i. 297.
- Afterwards Gresham Professor.
- F.M. 276, 279, 280. The autograph of the Quartet, in the possession of Mr. Hudorf, is dated 'London, Sept. 14, 1829.' Though published as No. 1. it is thus really his second string quartet. See above, p. 260a. [App. p.716 "The quartet was dedicated to 'B[etty] P[istor]'; but after her engagement to Rudorf, Mendelssohn requested David to alter the initials ('durch einen kleinen Federschwanz') to 'B. R.' (See Eckardt's 'David,' p. 35.) In the same letter he calls it Quartet aus S.'"]
- Fanny herself wrote the piece which was actually played at the wedding, Oct. 3, 1829 (F.M. 296). Felix's piece, however, was finished and written out (L. July 25, 1844).
- F.M. i. 302–304; Her. 86.
- F.M. i. 301.
- Op. 16. No. 2, is dated 'Norwood, Surrey, Nov. 18.' There is a MS. letter from the same address, Nov. 15. The house was on Biggin Hill.
- 'Heimkehr aus der Fremde' (the Return from abroad) was translated by Chorley as 'The Son and Stranger,' and produced at the Haymarket Theatre July 7, 1851.
- Dev. 94.
- For some curious details regarding this see Dev. 96. Schubring (374b) tells the same story of the Trumpet Overture.
- The MS. in Mr. Schleinitz's possession, is entitled 'Sonate écossaise,' and dated 'Berlin, Jan. 29, 1833'; but he played it at Goethe's. May 24, 1830 (L. i. 7).
- Dev. 98.
- See a similar remark in Hauptmann's Letters to Hauser (i. 157) in reference to a similar attempt in 1835.
- F.M. i. 313 (inaccurately August).
- Letter, May 25. See letters in G. & M.
- G. & M. 70.
- L. June 6, 1831.
- L. Oct. 16.
- F.M. i. 313–327.
- In this, as in several other cases, he has altered the notation from quavers to semiquavers.
- Letters to Zelter (June 22 and Oct. 16, 1830).
- L. Feb. 18, 1836.
- Afterwards Director of the Munich Conservatorium, and Spohr's correspondent.
- Dev. 105.
- L. i. 21.
- B. 7.
- L. Aug. 11.
- G. & M. 80.
- Letters. Oct. 25, 1830, June 25, 1831, Sept. 14, 1839.
- L. Aug. 14.
- L. Aug. 24.
- Berlioz. Voy. mus. i. 78.
- L. Dec. 10, 1837.
- L. Feb. 8.
- L. March 29. It is curious to compare Berlioz's account (Voyage mus. i. 73) of Mendelssohn with the above.
- L. March 1.
- See vol. i. 194a.
- This was added to the Reisebriefe in a subsequent edition, and is not included in the English translation.
- L. Dec. 28, 1831.
- Voy. mus. i. 78.
- Briefe, ii. 22.
- L. Dec. 19. 1831.
- L. Dec. 19, 1831; Jan. 11. 1832.
- L. Jan. 11, 1832; Dec. 28. 1831.
- H. 21.
- Written in memory of E. Ritz, and replacing a Minuet in F sharp minor, with Trio in double Canon.
- The Lied embodied in the A minor Quartet. See above, p. 260.
- H. 21.
- H. 33. Letter to Bärmann, in Letters of Diet. Musicians, April 16.
- Fétis is inaccurate in citing this as Mendelssohn's own expression. See Letter, March 31, 1832.
- 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 egoïste et froid; qui n'ayant pu gravir d'un pas sur les sommets de l'art, s'est refugié dans la musique de chambre.' Can ignorance and confidence go further?
- L. May 23, 1831.
- Rietz's List. Also Mos. i. 271.
- Mos. i. 272.
- Under the name of Original Melodies for the P.F. (Novello).
- G. & M. 97.
- Dev. 142.
- See especially Dev. 145–156.
- L. March 4, 1833.
- A.M.Z. 1833, 123. The dates are not given.
- See the Resolution and his answer in Hogarth, 59, 60.
- Letter to Bauer, April 6, 1833.
- 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.
- Which will be found in Moscheles's Life, i. 283.
- Mos. i. 290.
- 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.
- F.M. i. 347–364.
- I cannot discover his exact status or title at Düsseldorf. In his own sketch of his life (see next page) he styles himself Music-director of the Association for the Promotion of Music in Düsseldorf.
- F.M. i. 397; ii. 62. Compare ii. 20.
- F.M. i. 384.
- Ibid. 272.
- Ibid. 377.
- Mos. i. 298; Abraham M. in F.M. i. 368, 380, 382, etc.
- Mos. i. 299.
- F.M. i. 386.
- L. July 20, 1834.
- L. Mar. 28.
- L. Aug. 6.
- L. Mar. 28.
- H. 38.
- The acquisition of this horse gives a good idea of his dutiful attitude towards his father. (L. March 28, 1834.)
- Dev. 174.
- L. May 23; H. 36.
- Karasowski, chap. xiv.
- L. ii. 15, 34. On this occasion he sent to the following 'Memorandum of my biography and art-education.' 'I was born Feb. 3, 1809, at Hamburg; in my 8th year began to learn music, and was taught thorough-bass and composition by Professor Zelter, and the Pianoforte, first by my mother and then by Mr. Ludwig Berger. In the year 1829 I left Berlin, travelled through England and Scotland, South Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and France; visited England twice more in the spring of 1832 and 33, was there made Honorary Member of the Philharmonic Society, and since October 1833, have been Music-director of the Association for the Promotion of Music in Düsseldorf.' This is preserved in the archives of the Academy, and I am indebted for it to the kindness of Mr. Joachim.
- First sung at the Philharmonic by Mme. Caradori, May 18, 1834. [App. p.716 "The 'vocal piece' of his contract with the society. It was first sung at the Philharmonic Concert by Mme. Caradori, May 19, 1834, with violin obbligato by Henry Blagrove. The MS. is in the Philharmonic Library. (See below, addition to p. 281b.)"]
- L. Aug. 6, 1834.
- Letter to Devrient, D. 137, 8.
- Marx, ii. 139, etc.
- It shows how fully Mendelssohn realised the connexion of the Old and New Testaments that his concluding chorus, after the giving of the Law, is 'This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments'—from St. John.
- See Sch.; and L. ii. 6, 38, 39, etc.
- L. July 15, 1834.
- L. Sept. 6. 1833, etc.
- Dev. 177–183.
- Dev. 183, 184.
- N.M. Zeitung.
- Hauptmann's letters to Hauser, i. 139.
- L. Nov. 4, 23.
- This is brought out in his father's letter, ii. 58. See also Nov. 4.
- L. Jan. 26 and April 16, 1835.
- Letter to Mrs. Volgt, Düsseldorf, July 17, 1835.
- Letter to Schadow, in Polko 193.
- He joined definitely Feb. 25, 1836, after Matthal's death (A.M.Z. 1836, 133).
- Letter to Hildebrandt in P. 191; also Hiller 47.
- L. June 15, 1839.
- F.M. i. 422.
- A.M.Z. 1838, 273.
- Ibid. 106.
- To Hiller, L. Doc. 10, 1837.
- A.M.Z. 1836, 216.
- See The Musical World, June 17, 1838 (and Benedict's 'Sketch,' 27, 28); Hiller's 'Mendelssohn,' 61; and Polko, 43.
- H. 56, etc.
- A pencil-drawing of the Main and the Fahrthor, with the 'Schöne Aussicht' in the distance, taken from the Jeanrenauds' windows, has the following inscription:—'Vendu á Mendelssohn au prix de l'execution d'un nombre indeterminis de Fugues de J. S. Bach, et de la Cople d'un Rondo du même Maître. Laurens á Montpellier.'
- H. ch. iv; F.M. ii. 30; Dev. 196.
- H. 62–72.
- Letter to his mother, F.M. ii. 27; P. 63.
- Published as Op. 35. See the Catalogue at end of this article.
- Dev. 200.
- L. July 13. 1837.
- F.M. ii. 61.
- H. 99.
- His private journal. He mentioned it to Mr. John C. Horsley (now the R. A.) during this visit.
- For a very interesting account of these two performances by Dr. Gauntlett see The Musical World for Sept. 15, 1837.
- His private journal.
- Oct. 11, 1837.
- He had learned these since his Swiss journey. See Letter, Sept. 3. 1831.
- Mr. E. J. Hopkins's recollection.
- Mr. Lincoln's recollection.
- I have to thank Mr. Husk and the Committee of the S.H.S. for this and other valuable information.
- For these details see Musical World, Sept. 1837, pp. 24–40. He had resolved on the Prelude and Fugue two months before. See Letter, July 18.
- L. Oct. 4, 1837. The box is with Dr. Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.
- H. 149.
- Conceived and composed in two days for Mme. Botgorschek's concert. See Letter, April 2, 1888.
- H. 115.
- Letter to J. A. Novello, in G. & M. 192. For Ascension Day.
- A.M.Z. 1838, 439.
- F.M. ii. 57, 63.
- Autograph in possession of the Sterndale-Bennetts.
- L. July 30, 1838; June 18, 1839; H. 126.
- L. July 30, 1838.
- H. 126.
- 'Berlin, June 13, 1838.'
- For the whole of this see Mr. Planché's 'Recollections and Reflections,' 1872, chap. xxi. Mr. Planché's caustic deductions may well be pardoned him even by those who most clearly see their want of force.
- A.M.Z. 1838, 642.
- Ibid. 696.
- L. July 14, 1837.
- L. Jan. 12, 1835.
- H. 171.
- He liked a central point for his work. In St. Peter it would have been the Gift of Tongues; see L. July 14, 1837.
- L. Dec. 6, 1838.
- Letter, March 18, 1839. In fact it was only written at all because the proceeds of the concert were to go to the Widows' fund of the orchestra. He insisted on calling it 'The Overture to the Dramatic Fund.'
- Leipzig, April 15; H. p. 133.
- The autograph is dated—1st Movement, Frankfort, June 6; Finale Frankfort, July 18.
- F.M. ii. 85.
- Sept. 14, 1839.
- L. Aug. 1.
- L. July 3, Aug. 1.
- H. 147.
- H. 134.
- Dec. 12, 1839, March 12 and April 3, 1840. The second performance was interfered with by a fire in the town.
- Letter, Jan. 4, 1840.
- Jan. 9, 1840,
- Probably extempore; the published one is dated some years later.
- Letter, March 30, 1840.
- L. March 30. 1840.
- L. April 8, 1840.
- L. Nov. 18, 1840.
- The words of this were by Prof. Prölss of Freiberg (N.M.Z. 1840. ii. 7). The 'statue' which is mentioned in the accounts was probably something merely temporary. The second number of the Festgesang, adapted to the words 'Hark, the herald angels slug,' is a very favourite hymn-tune in England.
- C. i. 320.
- N.M.Z. 1843. i. 144.
- L. Feb. 7, 1840.
- 13,000 thalers in all were raised (N.M.Z. 1840, ii. 164).
- L. Aug. 10, 1840.
- Letter to C. i. 314; Polko, 231.
- P. 231.
- Mos. ii. 67.
- Mos. ii. 70.
- From the recollections of Mr. Turle and the late Mr. Bowley.
- I owe this to Miss Mounsey, the organist of the church. The Fugue is among the MSS. in the Berlin Bibliothek.
- See his Letter of July 21 in C. i. 318.
- Mos. ii. 74.
- Letter, Oct. 27, 1840.
- F.M. iii. 6.
- It was at this performance of the Choral Symphony that Schumann for the first time heard the D in the Bass Trombone which gives so much life to the beginning of the Trio. See his words in N.M.Z. 1841, i. 89.
- C. i. 334.
- C. i. 334; also L. ii. 24.
- Letter, July 15, 1841, and MS. Cat.
- Schumann in N.M.Z. 1841, i. 118.
- Dev. 238.
- A.M.Z. 1841, 550.
- L. ii. 238: dated Berlin, May 1838.
- A.M.Z. 1841, 856.
- See Catalogue at end of this article.
- Dev. 223.
- First performance in Leipzig, March 5; in Berlin, April 13.
- N.M.Z. 1842, i. 108.
- On the authority of Miss Mounsey, Mr. E. J. Hopkins, and the Athenæum, June 18, 1842.
- Atlas Newspaper, June 18; Musical World, June 23.
- L. June 21, 1842; G. & M. 141.
- G. & M. 148.
- Ibid. 141.
- L. Aug. 18, 1842.
- L. Sept. 3, 1842.
- Diary of Mr. Ella. The above dates preclude the possibility of his having attended the Motart Festival at Salzburg on Sept 4 and 5. There is no trace of his having been invited, and the full report in the A.M.Z. (1842, 788, 806), while giving the names of several musicians present, does not allude to him.
- A.M.Z. 1842, 907.
- H. 187.
- Sept. 21, 1842; H. 189.
- A.M.Z. 1842, 834.
- Told to the writer by the son of Mr. Speyer.
- Oct. 8; H. 191.
- L. Nov. 23, 1842.
- L. Dec. 5. 1842.
- Letter to Klingemann, Nov. 23.
- L. Nov. 28 and 29; comp. Sept. 23.
- L. Dec. 11.
- L. Dec. 22.
- 'In Memoriam.' v.
- Letter, Jan. 13, 1843.
- To Schubring. L. ii. 295.
- I am indebted for this to Mr. J. Rosenthal.
- L. Jan. 13, 1843.
- Jan. 25. Letter now in the possession of A. G. Kurtz, Esq., of Liverpool. In printing it Berlioz has shortened it by a half, and sadly garbled it by correcting the French!
- And in Berlioz's Mémoires.
- N.M.Z. 1843. i. 95.
- N.M.Z. 1843, i. 102. Hauptmann, letter to Spohr, Feb. 6, 43, says, 'Our music-school is to begin in April, but not on the 1st, Mendelssohn thought that unlucky.'
- See Lampadius, 127; N.M.Z. 1843, i. 144.
- A.M.Z. 1843, 334.
- L. July 21, 26, Aug. 26, Sept. 16, 1837.
- L. July 21.
- F.M. iii. 20—'marschirt langsam.'
- N.M.Z. 1843, ii. 68; Lampadius. Joachim made his first appearance at this concert.
- Dev. 245.
- H. 213. The band was small—only 6 first and 6 second fiddles; but 'the very pick of the orchestra' (Joachim).
- On the 14th Mendelssohn was called for, but did not appear; F.M. iii. 51.
- F.M. iii. 73. These court-people were only repeating what the Italian villagers had said to him in 1831. See Letter, July 4. 1831.
- Mr. Sartoris's recollection.
- A.M.Z. 1843, 804.
- H. 212; N.M.Z. 1843, ii. 135.
- To Macfarren, G. & M. 160.
- MS. letter, Dec. 19, 1843.
- F.M. iii. 89.
- Ibid. 91.
- It reached him on the 23rd.
- I am indebted to Mr. J. R. S. Bennett for an exact copy of this letter.
- F.M. iii. 99.
- Polko, 220. It was originally written with an organ accompaniment, but Mendelssohn afterwards scored it at the instance of Mr. Joseph Robinson of Dublin. How it came to be dedicated to Taubert is not discoverable.
- F.M. iii. 92.
- L. July 19, 1844.
- Hogarth, 82.
- L. April 28, 1844.
- Lampadius. 133.
- Few things are more curious than the terms in which Schubert's splendid works were criticised at this date in London, compared with the enthusiasm which they now excite.
- At Mrs. Anderson's Concert, 1849.
- Hogarth, 83.
- Mos. ii. 118.
- See letter to Moscheles; June 26, 1848.
- Musical World, Aug. 1, 1844.
- The bearer of a letter of introduction from Mendelssohn to Sterndale Bennett, for which see Polko, 157.
- I owe this to the recollection of Mr. Kellow Pye and Mr. Davison.
- See an account of this (somewhat exaggerated) by C. E. Horsley in the Choir, 1873, p. 81.
- Letter in possession of A. G. Kurtz, Esq.
- F.M. iii. 168.
- Ibid. 176.
- L. July 19, 1844.
- F.M. iii. 177.
- L. July 17, 19 25. Aug. 15.
- See the letters, P. 246, etc.
- F.M. iii. 151.
- F.M. iii. 206.
- L. Aug. 15, 1844.
- Sept 30; F.M. iii. 191.
- F.M. iii. 192.
- Dev. 252. His own words.
- Recollection of Sig. Piatti, who was there at the time.
- G. & M. 165.
- F.M. iii. 204.
- Ibid. 219, 224, 225.
- Ibid. 221.
- I owe this to the kindness of Mr. Tom Taylor, as Editor of Punch.
- F.M. iii. 221.
- Ibid. 227.
- Letters to Moore; P. 233–238.
- F.M. iii. 221; Dev. 258, 259, 262.
- L. March 12. 1845.
- There are seven of them, and they are given in the Appendix to G. & M., ed. 2, p. 169.
- The house has since been renumbered, and is now 21. A bronze tablet on the front states that he died there.
- Letter to Moore; P. 238.
- This Information I owe to Mr. Otto Goldschmidt and Mr. Rockstro, who belonged to both of his classes.
- Mos. ii. 162.
- The English pupils for 1844 and 45 embrace the names of Ellis, Wells, Hasker, Ascher, and Rockstro. The English pupils up to 1848 number 109, heading the list of all countries save Saxony and Prussia. Next comes Russia, and next North America.
- Letter to Miss Lind.
- Letter to Schubring, May 23, 1846.
- Letter to Moore; P. 241.
- Miss Lind.
- [App. p.717 "On this occasion he discovered the two redundant bars in the Trio of Beethoven's Symphony, which had remained uncorrected, notwithstanding Beethoven's protest to the publishers in 1810."]
- F.M. iii. 239–243. See also Chorley's 'Modern German Music,' ii. 320–350.
- L. June 26, 1846.
- L. June 2. 1837.
- F.M. iii. 234.
- B. 61.
- L. Aug. 26.
- L. ii. Aug. 26, 1831.
- Mrs. Moscheles says 11 pieces; Mos. ii. 157.
- Mr. J. T. Willy.
- F.M. iii. 244.
- L. Oct. 4. 1837.
- For a detailed examination of Nos. 1–8, by Mr. Jos. Bennett, see 'Concordia,' pp. 497, 523. A MS. copy of the original score is in the possession of Mr. H. Littleton (Novellos). [App. p.717 "Mr. Bennett's Examination was reprinted and completed in the 'Musical Times' from Oct. 1882 to April 1883 inclusive."]
- Op. 76, no. 3.
- Dörffel's Cat. 654. So well known in London through Joachim's playing.
- 'An F. David zur und aus der Erinnerung niedergeschrleben, F.M.B. Leipzig d. 11te Nov. 1846.' This (which with many other things in this article I owe to my friend Mr. Paul David) looks as if the accompaniment had been originally extemporised.
- L. Dec. 6.
- Letter, Dec. 6.
- Lumley's Reminiscences, 167.
- Ibid. 188.
- Long letters to influential London friends are in existence full of bitter complaints—most justly founded if his information was correct.
- Dev. 276.
- L. ii. 388.
- Dev. 291.
- Letter to Dirichlet, Jan. 4, 1847.
- Dev. 290.
- The engagement for one performance had been tendered as early as Sept 14; see Mendelssohn's reply of Oct. 7 to the letter of Mr. Brewer, the secretary to the society, of that date, in P. 227. The other two were proposed Jan. 26, and arranged for between that date and March 10, 1847; see the letter of that date to Bartholomew, ibid. 229. The fourth was an afterthought.
- Mus. World. April 17.
- Letter. Aug. 26, 1846. Martin's Life of Prince Consort, i. 489.
- Letter to Moore, Manchester. April 21; P. 244.
- The late Mr. Bartholomew.
- Life of Bunsen, ii. 129, 130.
- B. 56.
- Fraser's Mag. Dec. 1847.
- Mrs. Klingemann.
- L. July 7, 1847.
- L. Aug. 3.
- Mod. German Music, ii. 384.
- Now Bishop of Limerick.
- Personal Life of G. Grote, p. 176.
- Letter to Chorley, July 19.
- Personal Life of G. Grote, p. 177.
- Mod. Germ. Music, ii. 394.
- Letter to Philharmonic Society. 'Interlaken. Aug. 27. 1847.'
- Mod. Germ. Music, ii. 392; Dev. 272.
- This expression was used to the writer by Dr. Klengel, the tutor of his boys, who was constantly with him during the last two or three years of his life, and knew him intimately. Dr. Klengel has now gone to join the master he so dearly loved. He died in Nov. 1879.
- Mos. ii. 178, 9.
- Ibid. 177.
- Ibid. 177, 182.
- Lamp. 151.
- Mme. Frege; Mos. ii. 181.
- B. 67.
- The last letter stuck into the last (the 29th) of his green volumes is from Fischhoff of Vienna on this subject, dated Oct. 29. It must have been too late to have been read by him.
- Of the seven songs which he brought, the 'Altdeutsches Frühlingslied,' though put on paper on Oct. 7, was composed in the summer. The 'Nachthed' was composed and written for Schleinitz's birthday, Oct. 1, and is therefore virtually Mendelssohn's last composition. 'An odd birthday present,' said he to Mad. Frege, 'but I like it much, for I feel so dreary.'
- Mr. Camidge, son of Dr. Camidge of York.
- Mr. de Sentis.
- Fraser's Mag. April 1848.
- He was shorter than Sterndale Bennett, who was 5 ft. 6.
- A cast of his hand can be bought.
- The Bishop of Limerick.
- I owe the above description of Mendelssohn's looks chiefly to Mr. John C. Horsley, B.A. Few knew him better, or are more qualified to describe him.
- L. Dec. 20. 1831; April 3, May 18 1835
- L. May 25. 1830.
- L. Jan. 17 and March 15, 1831.
- 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.'
- I have to thank M. Edouard Detallle, the painter, for his efforts to discover the picture by Vernet.
- Wassielewsky, 157.
- 'Correspondance' (1879), 88; 'Voyage musical,' Letter 4.
- He complained bitterly to the Bishop of Limerick in 1847 of his short temper at rehearsals or with his pupils.
- Letter. 1844; ii. 325.
- L. July 14. 1836, and in many others.
- L. Oct. 4, 1837.
- F.M. iii. 54. 51.
- 'That there may be music In the next world I know you believe, for you have often told me so; but there will certainly be no bad pianos there like Geyer's, no stupid puffing flutes, no dragging trombones, no stopping, or wavering, or hurrying—of that I am quite sure.' MS. letter.
- In the hands of his family, of Schleinitz, Mrs. Moscneles, Schubring, P. David, Mme. Goldschmidt. Mme. Preusser, Mr. Euler of Düsseldorf, the Stemdale Bennetts. Mr. Sartoris, and others.
- In the hands of Mrs. Wach (Lili M.-B.). Two others seem to be missing.
- H. 167.
- Preface to his Letters, 1879.
- Mos. ii. 165.
- L. Aug 23 1831.
- L. Dec. 6, 1846.
- The parts of the 'Hebriden' Overture are not in exact accordance with the si-ore of 'Fingals Höhle.' The P.F. arrangement of the M.N.D. Overture published in London is given in notes of half the value of those in the score, published after it in Leipzig.
- Mr. W. S. Rockstro.
- Mr. Otto Goldschmidt.
- See Dorn, p. 998.
- 'Voyage musical,' Letter 4.
- Mr. Kellow Pye.
- Mr. von Bülow.
- Mrs. Moscheles and Mr. Rockstro.
- Letter to Fanny, Nov. 14, 1840.
- F.M. i. 377.
- L. i. 305.
- Recollections of Joachim and Rockstro.
- Dr. Klengel and Sterndale Bennett once had this good fortune, and it was a thing never to be forgotten.
- H. 18.
- Mus. World, viii. 102.
- Neither of his three Concert overtures, nor the Italian and Scotch symphonies, have trombones. As to St. Paul, see letter to Mr. Horsley, G. & M. 115.
- Schubring, 374b, note.
- L. Jan. 30. 1836. The reference is to an article in the N.M.Z. When asked what he meant by this overture he once replied 'Hm, une mesalliance.'
- L. Genoa, July 1831.
- L. Oct. 15, 1842, to Souchay; and compare that to Frau von Pereira, Genoa. July 1831.
- Mrs. Austin (Fraser's Mag., April 1848) relates that he said to her on one occasion 'I am going to play something of Beethoven's, but you must tell them what it is about; what is the use of music if people do not know what it means?' She might surely have replied, 'What then, is the use of the imagination?
- H. 164, 155.
- Such as the well-known one in A, which, though in Germany known as Frühlingslied, was in England for a long time called 'Camberwell Green,' from the fact of its having been composed on Denmark Hill. The Duet (Bk. iii. no. 6) was for long believed to represent a conversation between the composer and his wife.
- Letter, March 4, 1839.
- L. Nov. 2, Dec. 6, 1838.
- Haupt. ii. 102.
- L. Jan. 26, 1835.
- Letter, March 12, 1846.