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Felix Mendelssohn

Biography

Born: Feb 3, 1809; Germany   Died: Nov 4, 1847; Germany   Period: Romantic
Far from the troubled, coarse libertine that has become an archetype of the Romantic composer, Felix Mendelssohn was something of an anomaly among his contemporaries. His own situation -- one largely of domestic tranquility and unhindered career fulfillment -- stands in stark contrast to the personal Sturm und Drang familiar to his peers. Mendelssohn was the only musical prodigy of the nineteenth century whose stature could rival that of Mozart. Read more Still, his parents resisted any entrepreneurial impulses and spared young Felix the strange, grueling lifestyle that was the lot of many child prodigies. He and his sister Fanny were given piano lessons, and he also studied violin, and both joined the Berlin Singakademie. Carl Friedrich Zelter, director of the Singakademie, became Mendelssohn's first composition instructor. Even in his youth, Mendelssohn moved with natural grace among the circles of influence in society, politics, literature, and art. Although he did spend some time at the University of Berlin, most of his education was received through friendships and travel. Mendelssohn's advocacy was the single most important factor in the revival of Bach's vocal music in the nineteenth century, most famously realized in the 1829 performance of the St. Matthew Passion at the Berlin Singakadamie. He did some touring as a pianist with Ignaz Moscheles, then took the position as music director in Düsseldorf from 1833 to 1835, which involved conducting both the choral and orchestral societies, preparing music for church services and later, becoming intendant for the new theatre. Tension with the theater owner caused him to resign some of his duties, and he began looking for a new post. In 1835, Mendelssohn became municipal music director in Leipzig, where he also would conduct the Gewandhaus Orchestra. He would raise the level of the still-thriving ensemble to a new standard of excellence. In 1838, he married Cécile Jeanrenaud, enjoying an idyllic marriage and family life that was quite unlike the stormy romantic entanglements which profoundly affected such composers as Berlioz, Chopin, and Liszt. He was in demand as a conductor, spent some time as royal composer and music director in Berlin, but remained committed to musical life in Leipzig. He was even able to establish a new conservatory in the city, which is still a well-respected institution.
Mendelssohn was a true Renaissance man. A talented visual artist, he was a refined connoisseur of literature and philosophy. While Mendelssohn's name rarely arises in discussions of the nineteenth century vanguard, the intrinsic importance of his music is undeniable. A distinct personality emerges at once in its exceptional formal sophistication, its singular melodic sense, and its colorful, masterful deployment of the instrumental forces at hand. A true apotheosis of life, Mendelssohn's music absolutely overflows with energy, ebullience, drama, and invention, as evidenced in his most enduring works: the incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream (1826-1842); the Hebrides Overture (1830); the Songs Without Words (1830-1845); the Symphonies No. 3 (1841-1842) and No. 4 (1833); and the Violin Concerto in E minor (1844). While the sunny disposition of so many of Mendelssohn's works has led some to view the composer as possessing great talent but little depth, his religious compositions -- particularly the great oratorios Paulus (1836) and Elijah (1846) -- reflect the complexity and deeply spiritual basis of his personality. Read less
Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words / Javier Perianes
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 902195   Number of Discs: 1
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Mendelssohn: Christus / Piau, Equilbey, Accentus
Release Date: 01/31/2012   Label: Naive  
Catalog: 5265   Number of Discs: 1
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Mendelssohn: Symphony no 3, Hebrides; Schumann: Piano Concerto / Pires, Gardiner [SACD+Blu-ray]
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Lso Live  
Catalog: 765   Number of Discs: 1
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Mendelssohn: Three Sonatas, Rondo /  Frederic Chiu
Release Date: 06/08/2004   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 3957117   Number of Discs: 1
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Mendelssohn, Bruch: Octets / Kodály Quartet, Auer Quartet
Release Date: 04/18/2006   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8557270   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64

Browse 226-231 of 231 Available Recordings
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  • 226.
    Great Violin Concertos / Mutter, Karajan, Berlin Po
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 415565 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johannes Brahms,  Max Bruch,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 227.
    Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos / Stern, Ormandy
    Label: Cbs Great Performances   Catalog: 36724 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Isaac Stern
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 228.
    Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto;  Beethoven / Stern, Ozawa
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 37204 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Isaac Stern
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 229.
    Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto; Saint-Saens, Massenet / Salerno-Sonnenberg
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 49276 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Jules Massenet
    Performer:  Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Chamber Symphony
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  • 230.
    Mendelssohn, Bruch: Violin Concertos / Shaham, Sinopoli
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 427656 Release Date: 03/30/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Max Bruch
    Performer:  Gil Shaham
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 231.
    Mendelssohn, Bruch: Violin Concertos / Honda, Clark
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8550111 Release Date: 04/10/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Max Bruch
    Performer:  Mariko Honda
    Conductor:  Keith Clark
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra
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