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Felix Mendelssohn: a musical livewire

Even during his lifetime Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was subjected to anti-Semitic smear campaigns. The Nazis even banned his works – but they searched in vain for substitutes for his Violin Concerto and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Mendelssohn grew up in Berlin, the city of his musical mother. He was a musical prodigy and played the piano for the famous poet Goethe, among others, at a very young age. When he was only 17, Mendelssohn composed his masterpiece, the overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream. At that time his family lived at Leipziger Strasse 3 in Berlin, later the site of the upper house of the Prussian parliament and now the Bundesrat.

As a pianist, composer and conductor, Mendelssohn made many concert tours to places such as London, Paris and Italy. He was director of music in Berlin and Düsseldorf, and he worked at the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Frankfurt Cecilia Society. Mendelssohn had a huge influence on German musical life: in 1829 he revived Bach's St. Matthew Passion after almost 90 years (in Berlin) and in 1843 he founded Germany's first music conservatory (in Leipzig).

There are memorial sites for Felix Mendelssohn and his equally talented sister Fanny mainly in Berlin and Leipzig but also in Hamburg, the city of his birth. The composer's final residence can be seen in Leipzig at the museum in the Mendelssohn House. Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, who died the same year, were buried in Berlin.