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Mendelssohn made the most of his privileged start in life; composing at 10, travelling the world and reigniting interest in Bach.
“He is the Mozart of the 19th century, the most illuminating of musicians, who sees more clearly than others through the contradictions of our era and is the first to reconcile them.”
Schumann’s awestruck assessment of his friend Felix Mendelssohn provides a fascinating insight into this most intuitive of musical geniuses. At a time when Chopin and Liszt were challenging piano mechanisms to the brink of meltdown and Paganini was taking violin virtuosity through the stratosphere, Mendelssohn preferred a more civilised, sleight-of-hand brilliance.
His great contemporaries Berlioz, Verdi and Wagner portrayed life on a grand, theatrical scale, whereas Mendelssohn tended towards gentle, exultant lyricism, expressing himself – and here is the Mozart connection – with sublime concision. He was, for many, a beacon of musical sanity in a world increasingly obsessed with the dark side of human nature.