Far from the troubled, coarse libertine that has become an archetype of the Romantic composer, Felix Mendelssohn was something of an anomaly among his contemporaries. His own situation -- one largely of domestic tranquility and unhindered career fulfillment -- stands in stark contrast to the…
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As the month of November marks my 6th wedding annivesary, I also got to thinking about the music played during that special day.
Although I did not choose it for my wedding, I remember friends suggesting Felix Mendelssohn's Wedding March in C major to be performed during the event. Written in 1842, the Wedding March has remained a familiar favorite among many and it has almost become a staple selection during weddings through the years. And while it is a beautiful piece by Mendelssohn, I wish he would be remembered not only for it alone but also by the musical legacy he has left behind.
A look into history will show us that this musical genius had already composed early string symphonies between the ages of 12-14! He was just entering teen years and there he was already creating his own music. He started so early in showing his musical gift, was even considered a prodigy and yet we do not hear about him as much as his other contemporaries. Again, a look into history will show us that he was not respected as much by others simply because he had a Jewish background. Some critics during his time also criticized him as "conservative" in his approach and not as "inventive" as his contemporaries and yet Mendelsohnn was known for his improvisations both in private and public performances. Now then, doesn't this count as inventive for them? Well, I wonder if he could have given them what they would deem as "inventive" had he not died before turning 40.
Aside from Mendelssohn's Wedding March, I would say there is much to appreciate about this composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. I say he doesn't lack in creativity and skill, not to mention that Mendelssohn played a key role in reviving interest in the music of J.S. Bach and Franz Schubert during his time. This was a man who knew how to appreciate the music of others and he was also keen in passing on the gift of music: he founded a major music school. The school then known as the Leipzig Conservatory is still running today now known as the University of Music and Theatre Leipzig.
Listen to Mendelssohn's music and judge for yourself if he is not as "inventive" as he should be. You may find yourself agreeing to what one German musical composer had to say upon hearing him play the piano for a singer: "Mendelsohnn accompanied like a God."
If you love classical tunes and haven't given that much attention to Mendelssohn, it's about time you do. Check out the 2014 released album, Mendelssohn's Essential Playlist. I believe Mendelssohn truly deserves a space in our classical music playlist. He has more to offer than just wedding music.