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Music / Felix Mendelssohn

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Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (3 February 1809 – 4 November 1847) was an early German Romantic composer.

He wrote one of the two most famous pieces of wedding music ever, originally as incidental music for a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Other well-known works include the Christmas Carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", "War March of the Priests", the "Hebrides Overture" (also known as "Fingal's Cave"), "Spring Song", and the Violin Concerto in E minor.

Outside of being a famous Romantic Era composer, Mendelssohn is also credited with kickstarting the Bach Revival, leading to the modern day veneration and renown of J.S. Bach as a composer and music theorist.


Tropes present in Mendelssohn's life and works:

  • Ambiguously Jewish: Not ambiguous enough for 19th century Germany, though. Yes, Mendelssohn was ethnically Jewish (his grandfather was the great 18th-century Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn), but he was raised without religion and later became Lutheran. He was still the victim of antisemitism, though, and his music was banned by the Nazis.
  • Child Prodigy: Gave his first public concert at nine years old.
  • Cool Big Sis: His older sister Fanny, a talented composer in her own right who was nonetheless discouraged from publishing her works due to her gender. She would often help critique his pieces while he, in turn, published a few of her works under his own name (which led to an incident where he had to admit to Queen Victoria that one of her favorite pieces of music was written by Fanny, not himself). The two were close and after her death Felix would dedicate his last major work, the String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, to her memory.
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  • Lohengrin and Mendelssohn: Half-Trope Namer.
  • Vindicated by History: Not himself (necessarily), but rather, Mendelssohn caused this for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, who in his lifetime was primarily famous as an organist rather than a composer. Mendelssohn discovered many of Bach's manuscripts in the early 1800s and conducted the St. Matthew Passion for the first time since Bach's death 80 years ago. The Bach Revival and modern day reverence of Bach as a composer is heavily attributed to Mendelssohn.

Notable Works which cite Mendelssohn or his works:

  • He is played by Otto Diamant in Lisztomania and by André Heller in the West German film Frühlingssinfonie (Spring Symphony).
  • "Athalia" (also called "War March of the Priests") is played on an organ by the title character in the opening of The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
  • A snippet of the Violin Concerto is used to conclude Les Visiteurs and its sequels.


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