William Sterling

Felix Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn and Mendelssohn

Fanny and Felix had a closer bond than probably any two other musicians but had very different careers due to their difference in gender. In his youth, Felix was described as the Mozart of the C19th but some considered his sister Fanny to be even more talented. She was destined by convention to remain an amateur whilst he became the most famous composer of his day.

This course re-examined their very different contributions to the History of Music and what might have been. The course ran chronologically examining the lives and works of the two composers from their early days to their deaths within six months of each other. Each week three or four of Fanny’s works and five or six of Felix’s works were examined and listened to. These included Fanny’s small number of chamber works and larger choral works along with many of her smaller works, especially her works for solo piano and her songs. Felix’s works included his great series of chamber works from his teenage Octet to his mature quartets and trios; his orchestral works including the ever popular Scottish and Italian Symphonies, the piano concertos and violin concerto, and the overtures to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Hebrides, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and others; choral works such as St Paul and Elijah; his piano solo works, songs and other smaller scale works.

I ran this course at Crayford Manor (Bexley College) October-December 2000.

Mendelssohn – The Mozart of the Nineteenth Century?

For casual listeners and academics alike, the opening bars of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture are some of the most instantly recognisable in all music. Their familiarity, and that of many other pieces by this most romantic of romantic composers, cannot detract from their powerfully evocative qualities. Hear some of the most spontaneous-sounding music ever written and learn about some of the events that inspired it.

I gave this talk for the DfE Music Society in April 2001 and the HSE European Society in December 2005.

Mendelssohn Chronology

Below is the spreadsheet I created for these classes.

Felix Mendelssohn life and works