Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barholdy
(1809.02.03 ~ 1847.11.04)
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, born, and generally known in
English-speaking countries, as Felix Mendelssohn was a
conductor of the
The grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, he was born to a notable Jewish family which later converted to Christianity. He was recognised early as a prodigy, but his parents were cautious and did not seek to capitalise on his abilities. Indeed his father was disinclined to allow Felix to follow a musical career until it became clear that he intended to seriously dedicate himself to it.
Early success in Germany was followed by travel throughout Europe; Mendelssohn was particularly well received in England as a composer, conductor and soloist, and his ten visits there, during which many of his major works were premiered, form an important part of his adult career. His essentially conservative musical tastes however set him apart from many of his more adventurous musical contemporaries such as Liszt, Wagner and Berlioz. The Conservatoire he founded at Leipzig became a bastion of this anti-radical outlook.
Mendelssohn's work includes symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano and chamber music. He also had an important role in the revival of interest in the music of J. S. Bach. After a long period of relative denigration due to changing musical tastes and antisemitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his creative originality is now being recognized and re-evaluated. He is now among the most popular composers of the Romantic era.