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Felix Mendelssohn:
About Felix Mendelssohn


By the time he was a teenager, Felix Mendelssohn was already an excellent pianist and composer. And Mendelssohn was very talented in other areas. In addition to German (his native language), Mendelssohn spoke French, English, and Italian. He was also a very good painter. And he became quite famous as a conductor.

Music heard in this episode:
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
Mendelssohn: Spinning Song
Mendelssohn: Octet
Mendelssohn: Calm Sea/Prosperous Voyage
Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4
Mendelssohn: Elijah: He Watching Over Israel
Mendelssohn: Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture

Other shows about Felix Mendelssohn:
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Music Based on Shakespeare
Child Prodigy Composers
Women Composers

Download this month's activity sheet



About Felix Mendelssohn
2/3/1809 - 11/4/1847
Born in Germany

Felix Mendelssohn was lucky enough to be born into a rich family, with loving parents who encouraged him to be a musician. And he certainly had the right name. Felix is Latin for "happy."

Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg, Germany, and grew up in Berlin. His grandfather was the great Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, but Felix Mendelssohn lived at a time when it was very difficult to be Jewish in Germany -- there were all kinds of laws and taxes that applied only to Jews. Felix Mendelssohn's father Abraham was a banker who didn't want to deal with anti-Semitism -- people discriminating against him just because he was Jewish. So he converted to Christianity, and changed the family name to Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.

The Mendelssohn family held regular Sunday afternoon concerts at their house, so Felix grew up with music all around him. He was already a terrific pianist as a child, and started composing when he was ten. As a teenager, Mendelssohn had already written some of his greatest music. He was also a wonderful visual artist.

Mendelssohn was very close to his older sister, Fanny, who also played the piano and composed. The two of them not only made music together, they also put on plays -- like A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare.

Mendelssohn loved to travel. His trips to other countries inspired some of his best music, like his Scottish and Italian Symphonies.

Mendelssohn also became well known as a conductor. When he was just 20, he put together and conducted the first concert of Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion since Bach's lifetime.

See other composers born in Germany

 

This Week's Quiz:

1. In Latin, Felix means

horse

free

happy

sick

sad


2.Which country inspired one of Mendelssohn's Symphonies?

Russia

Mexico

China

Italy

Peru


3. Felix performed music and plays with his older sister. What was her name?

Mary

Fanny

Anne

Elizabeth

Susan



 

Felix Mendelssohn
“Scherzo” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Composed in 1843
Performed by Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Anthony Bramall, conductor

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