Music Composers

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartoldy--Part 10

Sir Julius benedict in his sketch on Mendelssohn writes: "In society, apart from musical subjects, nothing could be more entertaining or animated than Mendelssohn's conversation on literary topics. The works of Shakespeare and other eminent British poets were quite as familiar to him as those of his own country, and although this accent was slightly tinctured by his German origin, he spoke as well as wrote the English language with great facility and purity. He drew from nature and painted also very well and indeed might be said to possess every social accomplishment. It would be a matter of difficulty to decide in what quality Mendelssohn excelled the most, whether as a composer, organist or conductor of an orchestra. Nobody certainly ever knew better how to communicate - as if by an electric fluid - his own conception of a work to a large body of performers."

When Felix began to become celebrated, Abraham Mendelssohn, his father, was wont to say with his own dry humor: "Formerly I was merely the son of my father, now I am merely the father of my son."

Once while conducting a rehearsal of Beethoven's Eighth Symphony, the allegretto in B flat not going at first to Mendelssohn's liking he remarked with good humored sarcasm, that he knew every one of the gentlemen engaged was capable of performing and even of composing a scherzo of his own;' but that just now he preferred to hear Beethoven's, which he thought really had some merits. It was cheerfully repeated. "Beautiful! charming!" cried Mendelssohn, "but still too loud in two or three instances. Let us take it again from the middle." "No, No!" chorused the band; "the whole piece over again for our own satisfaction!" and then they played it with the utmost delicacy and finish. Mendelssohn laying aside his baton and listening with evident delight to the more perfect execution. "What would I have given," he exclaimed, "if Beethoven could have heard his own composition so well understood and so magnificently performed!"

The Etude Magazine April 1920





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