Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

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Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy was born on February 3, 1809, to Abraham and Lea Mendelssohn in Hamburg, Germany (Oxford Companion 1162). He was the second of four children, but he was closer to his older sister Fanny than any of his other siblings. The two of them studied music and played together for many years, and Fanny also composed. Several of the Songs Without Words were her works, published under Felix's name because of the family's feeling that it was unbecoming for a woman to engage in public life (Harris 1368).

The family moved to Berlin in 1812, where Felix, at the age of four, began to receive regular piano lessons from his mother. In 1816, Abraham Mendelssohn went to Paris on business and brought his family with him. Throughout their stay, Felix and Fanny had piano lessons with Madame Marie Bigot, who was highly esteemed by both Haydn and Beethoven (Grove Dictionary 135). When they returned to Berlin, Abraham put into effect a systematic plan of education for his children.

Under this plan, Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Heyse (father of poet and short story writer Paul Heyse) taught the children general subjects and classical languages; Johann Gottlob Samuel Rosel taught drawing; Ludwig Berger taught piano; Carl Wilhelm Henning taught violin; and Carl Zelter gave lessons in musical theory and composition. The children were up at 5 A.M. and began their lessons right after breakfast. Abraham Mendelssohn never considered his children too old for his discipline and correction, and Felix could not consider himself his own master until he was twenty-five years old (Harris 1368).

Felix made his first public appearance as a pianist at the age of nine. He debuted with a Concert militaire by F. X. Dusek and was met with great success (Grove Dictionary 135). On April 11, 1819, he entered the Singakademie as an alto, and on September 10 of that year they…...

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