Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy

The Philharmonic Society performed the Hebrides Overture, he played his G minor concerto and he wrote the Capriccio brillante in B, and published a four-hand arrangement of the Midsummer Night's Dream Overture and the First Book of Songs Without Words. The spring of 1834 he went to London to conduct the Italian Symphony, finished that year for the Philharmonic Society, and on his return went to Düsseldorf to conduct the Lower Rhine Festival. This was so successful that the authorities asked Mendelssohn to take charge of their town music, an offer which he gladly accepted. He began by reforming the church-music; he introduced many improvements into the theatre, but found the work so uncongenial that after a short time he gave it up. During 1834 he wrote Infelice for the Philharmonic Society, completed Melusina, composed the Rondo Brillante in E flat and the Capriccio in A minor, and began work on St. Paul, a commission from the Cacilien-Verein of Frankfort. After conducting the Lower Rhine Festival for 1835 he went to Leipsic, where he had accepted the position of leader of the Gewandhaus concerts. Considered by many the foremost of all conductors, he was especially fitted to this work, and brought the concerts to a degree of excellence never before reached. The death of his father saddened this winter, but in spite of that he continued to work very hard, completing St. Paul and revising the Melusina Overture. The following May he again conducted the Lower Rhine Festival at Düsseldorf, then went to Frankfort to take charge of the CacilienVerein. During this summer he met Mile. Cecile Jeanrenaud, who became his wife in March, 1837. This marriage proved a very happy one and did not at all detract from his work, as may be seen by the fact that even on the honeymoon he wrote a number of compositions. During August of that year he conducted the oratorio, St. Paul, at the Birmingham Festival. During the next three years most of his work was done in connection with the Gewandhaus concerts. He conducted the Lower Rhine Festival at Cologne in 1838 and spent his vacation at Berlin writing a string quartet in D and a sonata in F for piano and violin. During the following winter he finished the overture, Ruy Bias, composed the 114th Psalm, and worked on the oratorio, Elijah. He conducted the Festival at Düsseldorf, and spent the following summer at Frankfort writing some of his finest songs during this time. At the Birmingham Festival of 1840 he gave Lobgesang, composed for a festival in honor of the discovery of printing, held at Leipsic during that year, and during the following winter he produced it at a Gewandhaus concert and at a special concert to the King of Saxony.

In 1840 the King of Prussia founded an Academy of Fine Arts at Berlin and appointed Mendelssohn director of the musical department. This was not a welcome appointment to the composer because he dreaded court restriction and disliked returning to Berlin to live. He did not remove his family from Leipsic and returned there often, on one occasion to conduct his Scotch Symphony at a Gewandhaus concert. He directed the Rhine Festival at Düsseldorf that year, and in the spring went to England to conduct his Scotch Symphony at a Philharmonic concert. The position at Berlin was more intolerable than before; plans for the Academy had fallen through, and as a substitute the King proposed giving him charge of a select choir and orchestra which he should organize and permission to live wherever he wished. He was given the title of General Music Director to the King of Prussia, and in consequence had to resign the position he held as chapelmaster to the King of Saxony. During an interview with the King of Saxony regarding this resignation he persuaded that monarch to devote a legacy left to the state to the founding of a musical conservatory at Leipsic. Such a project had always been the work nearest his heart, and he started at once to organize this institution. While at Leipsic on this work he set to music Racine's Athalie, CEdipus Coloneus, and The Tempest for the King of Prussia. In December, 1842, he lost his mother, but, as in his former bereavement, hard work proved his solace. In January, 1843, the prospectus of a conservatory appeared, bearing the names of Mendelssohn, Becker, David Hauptmann and Schumann. In April the great Bach monument opposite the Thomas School was unveiled, and he conducted a concert composed wholly of Bach's compositions. Thus in the same year two of his dearest wishes were accomplished. After a quiet summer at Leipsic he resumed his duties at Berlin in August, conducting Antigone and the Midsummer Night's Dream music at Potsdam. Seeing that he would have to stay in Berlin during the winter, he arranged to have Ferdinand Hiller conduct the Gewandhaus concerts. In February he received an invitation to conduct the last six concerts of the London Philharmonic Society and gladly accepted. After the coldness of Berlin the enthusiastic reception he was given in London was very grateful. He played at concerts of the Sacred Harmony Society and at the Society of British Musicians, and everywhere was greeted with an ovation. After this and a summer spent near Frankfort with his wife and children return to Berlin was out of the question. He obtained a release from the King, then returned to Frankfort to rest until September. During this time he completed six organ sonatas; a trio in C minor; a string quartet in B flat; and the sixth book of Songs Without Words.