Music Composers

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartoldy--Part 7

Mendelssohn's Tribute to Bach

After his marriage, Mendelssohn resolved to commemorate in a worth manner the one of his predecessors to whom he most resembled in the severity of his studies. Johan Sebastian Bach, the great cantor of the Thomas School at Leipsic, ought to have a monument in the city in which he had labored so long. Mendelssohn undertook to erect such a monument out of his own means, and he resolved in addition to make the rising generation of musicians more familiar with the works of the immortal master. He gave a number of concerts whose proceeds were devoted to the statue of Bach and at which only Bach's works were produced. The first was given at St. Thomas' Church. It was an organ concert. Mendelssohn performed the fugue in E flat, the fantasia on the choral, Adorn Thyself, the prelude and fugue in A minor, the Passacaglia in C minor, with it's twenty variations, and he closed with a free fantasia on the choral, O, Sacred Head Now Wounded.

After the concert Mendelssohn went to England to direct the great festival at Birmingham, where his Hymn of Praise was given. On this occasion he was invited by the Queen to visit her at her palace. Queen Victoria, who, as well as her husband, was a great friend of art, and herself a distinguished musician, received Mendelssohn in her own sitting room, Prince Albert being the only one present besides herself. When he entered she asked his pardon for the somewhat disorderly appearance of the apartment, and began to rearrange the articles with her own hand, in which Mendelssohn gallantly offered his assistance. Some parrots, whose cages hung in the room, she herself carried into the next apartment, in which task of elimination Mendelssohn helped her also. Queen Victoria then requested the guest to play something. Afterwards she sang some songs of his which she had sung at a court concert. She was not wholly satisfied with her own performance, however, and said modestly to Mendelssohn, "I can do better - ask Lablache if I cannot - but I am afraid of you!"

The Etude Magazine April 1920





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