Felix Mendelssohn

10 Famous works of Mendelssohn (Hamburg, February 3, 1809-Leipzig, November 4, 1847)

Born in Hamburg, Mendelssohn was a child prodigy from a very young age. During his childhood, he composed a number of operas and symphonies. Being only 9 years old, he made his public debut in Berlin. In 1819, Felix Mendelssohn entered the Singakademie music academy in Berlin, where he had lived since he was two years old and began to compose non stop.

Soon he would become a conductor in this institution. In 1829, at the age of only 20 years, he conducted Saint Mathew’s Passion by Bach, obtaining a success that would lead him to other great opportunities, including the possibility of conducting the London Philharmonic that same year.

In 1836, a year after the death of his father, Mendelssohn met Cécile Jeanrenaud, the daughter of a clergyman in Frankfurt. She was only 16 when they got engaged and married in 1837, having five children throughout her life.

Mendelssohn founded the Music Conservatory of Leipzig and became its director. In doing so, he put Leipzig on the map as the musical center of Germany.

10 Famous works of Mendelssohn

1. A Midsummer’s Night Dream Opp. 21 and 61.

Based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare, Mendelssohn wrote the this music composition in two moments of his life. First he wrote his  overture Op. 21 in 1826 at the beginning of his career, and the incidental music Op. 61 in 1842, 16 years later, work in which includes his famous Wedding March.

2. Songs without Words.

There are 8 volumes of 6 songs for piano only written by the composer at various moments of his life. They are a set of short lyrical compositions that follow a romantic tradition, although the concept “songs without words” seems to have been the composer’s. In chronological order they are: Op. 19b (1829-30), Op. 30 (1833-34), Op. 38 (1836-37), Op. 53 (1839-41), Op. 62 (1842-44), Op. 67 (1843-45), Op. 85 (1834-45), Op. 102 (1842-45)

3. Symphony No. 3 in A Minor Op. 56. The Scottish. 1842

Dedicated to Queen Victoria of England, it was designed in 1829 on her first trip to Britain. Their movements are:

  1. Andante con moto – Allegro un poco agitato
  2. Scherzo – Vivace non troppo
  3. Adagio
  4. Allegro vivacissimo – Allegro maestoso assai

4. Symphony No. 4, in A Major Op. 90. The Italian. 1833

It has its origin in a trip that the made around 1830 through Italy. In a letter to his sister Fanny he tells her that while he was composing this symphony, that this work would be the happiest he had wrote.

  1. Allegro vivace
  2. II.Andante con moto
  3. III.Con moto moderato
  4. IV.Saltarello: Presto

5. Violin Concerto in E minor Op. 64. 1845.

It is, together with the Brahms and Tchaikovsky violin concertos, possibly the most famous concert for this instrument and one of the most interpreted. It was dedicated by the composer to his violinist friend Ferdinand David who was indispensable in the creation of this work.

6. Trio with Piano in D minor Op. 49. 1839.

Composed for a standard group of piano, violin and cello, it is one of the composer’s most famous chamber music works.

  1. Molto allegro ed agitato.
  2. Andante con moto tranquillo.
  3. Scherzo: Leggiero e vivace.
  4. Finale: Allegro assai appassionato.

7. Variations Sérieuses Op. 54.

Consisting of a theme in D minor and 17 variations (remembering the key to the famous Bach Chaconne), the sérieuses were composed as part of a project by the composer for raising funds for a statue in honor to Beethoven.

8. Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40. 1837.

Mendelssohn wrote several compositions for piano and orchestra: two concertos for piano and orchestra Op. 25 (1831) and Op. 40 (1837), Capriccio Brillant in B minor Op 22 (1832), Rondo Brillant in E flat major Op. 29 (1834), and his Sérénade andt allegro giocoso in B minor, Op. 43 (1838).

The present concert is possibly the best known and interpreted by the composer.

9. Overture “The Hebrides” Op. 26. 1830.

Dedicated to Frederick William IV of Prussia is one of the composer’s best-known works. It was written in 1830 after a visit to the Fingal’s cave in the isle of Mull (Scotland). In a letter to his sister he says that the theme of the work came to his head inside the cave. It had the initial title of “The lonely island” although in a later revision of the score the author changed the name by the one of the Hebrids.

10. Octet in Greater E flat major, Op. 20 1825.

Mendelssohn wrote this work with only 16 years as a gift to his friend and violin teacher Eduard Ritz. Divided into four movements, it lasts approximately 30 minutes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *