Music Composers

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartoldy--Part 8

How the Conservatory Began

In the year 1842 Mendelssohn wrote to Moscheles; "Now or never must a conservatorium come into being in Leipsic." In order to procure the necessary funds Mendelssohn applied directly to the King of Saxony, who had the control of a large sum of money left at the decease of a wealthy Leipsic citizen, Blummer by name. The king granted the money, and in 1843 the Leipsic conservatory was inaugurated. Mendelssohn himself assumed the instruction of composition, as Schumann unfortunately had to retire in 1844. Mendelssohn assigned the theory classes to Hauptmann and Richter, violin to David, and organ to Becker. Piano playing was first in the hands of Mendelssohn and Plaidy. In 1846 Mescheles was added as leader of the piano department, and in a short time the conservatory acquired a world of fame.

The death of his favorite sister Fanny, in the year 1846, was a tremendous blow to Mendelssohn. He never recovered from it. Neither Felix nor Fanny could live long without the other, they had often said. He went to Berlin and saw Fanny's rooms just as she had left them. He grieved and brooded over his loss, and he exclaimed: "A great chapter is ended, and neither title nor beginning of the next is written."

The last days of August, 1847, Mendelssohn was in Switzerland, before his return to Leipsic, and was taking a walk with a friend on the "Hohenbuhl," commanding the lake of Thun. While he was climbing up to this nook the tinkling of cowbells came up from some pasture land not far off. Mendelssohn stopped immediately, listened, smiled, and began to sing the pastorale theme from the overture of Guillaume Tell. "How beautifully Rossini has found that!" he exclaimed. "All the rest of the introduction, too, is truly Swiss. I wish I could make some Swiss music." He spoke with true admiration of Rossini and Donizetti's Fille du Regiment. "It is so merry, with so much of the real soldier's life in it." Shortly after his return to Leipsic the third of November, he was attacked by an apoplectic stroke. He became unconscious and never revived again. He died on the fourth of November, 1847. the frief over the loss of the beloved composer was boundless. It seemed as if a general gloom had fallen on the whole city. Large placards, announcing his death, were posted upon the walls and an imposing funeral took place on the seventh of November in St. Paul's Church. The red pall was borne by his friends, Robert Schumann, David, Jade, Hauptmann, Rietz and Moscheles.

The Etude Magazine April 1920





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