2 GrandpaFelix and Fanny’s grandfather was Moses Mendelssohn, a famous philosopher of the 18th Century. He was a brilliant thinker and a faithful Jew. Moses was a poor, small, ugly man with a hunchback, but he had a way with words.Moses MendelssohnOne day he visited a merchant in Hamburg who had a lovely blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter named Fromet. Moses fell hopelessly in love with her, but Fromet was repulsed by his grotesque appearance and wouldn’t even talk with him.
3 When it came time for him to leave, Moses gathered his courage and climbed the stairs to her room to take one last opportunity to speak with her. She was a vision of heavenly beauty, but caused him deep sadness by her refusal to look at him. After several attempts at conversation, Moses shyly asked, "Do you believe marriages are made in heaven?" "Yes,” she answered, still looking at the floor. "And do you?""Yes I do,” he replied. "You see, before I was born, I asked God to show me the woman whom I would marry. Though highly irregular, I was granted one glimpse. To my astonishment, the woman had an ugly hump on her back. I pleaded with God, ‘It is not fair that a woman be a hunchback. She will be the object of scorn and contempt. I beg you, give ME the hump and let her be well-formed and beautiful.’”
4 Then Fromet looked up into his eyes and was stirred with compassion Then Fromet looked up into his eyes and was stirred with compassion. She reached out and gave Moses her hand and later became his devoted wife.Moses and Fromet had 10 children.
5 One of those 10 children was Abraham Mendelssohn One of those 10 children was Abraham Mendelssohn. Abraham became a successful banker and became the father of Felix and Fanny.Abraham Mendelssohn
6 Mendelssohn House till 1813 Fanny was born in 1805 and Felix was born a couple years later in 1809 in Germany. Since the family was wealthy, Felix and Fanny received the finest musical training available.Mendelssohn House till 1813
7 What do we call this phenomenon? Both children were extremely talented. They could play the piano, violin, and sing with unusual ability for a very young age.FannyFelix(yes, we know you thought it was a girl - duh! Most young boys wore their hair long back then.)What do we call this phenomenon?
8 Prodigies! Who else were prodigies? More Prodigies?Prodigies! Who else were prodigies?Unlike Mozart and Beethoven, the Mendelssohn children were not taken on tour despite their remarkable talent. They were only permitted to play for family and friends. Their parents did not agree to profiting at the expense of the children.
9 Moving OnWhen Felix was just three years old, the French, under Napoleon, invaded Germany and captured the city of Hamburg. The Mendelssohn family packed up all they could carry and fled to Berlin in the middle of the night.Napoleon
10 Moving OnBerlin was a flourishing town with artists, musicians, and the best music teachers in Germany. It was the perfect place for aspiring composers.Berlin
11 Mendelssohn to Bartholdy? Although grandfather Moses Mendelssohn had been a devout Jew, in 1816, Felix and Fanny’s father, Abraham, converted the entire family to Christianity and changed the Jewish name ‘Mendelssohn’ to ‘Bartholdy’ to make better opportunities available for the children. Felix would hold fast to Christianity throughout his life, although he was never ashamed of his Jewish heritage and never used the name Bartholdy.Mendelssohn to Bartholdy?
12 Felix and Fanny continued to take lessons and improve in Berlin Felix and Fanny continued to take lessons and improve in Berlin. They both composed pieces and Felix began to play for public audiences by the age of 9. Fanny, however, was discouraged by her family to play publicly. Her parents believed her to be just as talented as Felix, but they did not want her to be humiliated in public.WhatAboutFanny?
13 The Romantic Era was still progressing slowly with women’s rights The Romantic Era was still progressing slowly with women’s rights. A woman was expected to marry, have children, and cook and clean. Fanny was always trying to fight this stereotype by publishing her music, but her parents didn’t allow her. They loved her and they didn’t want her reputation to be smeared. So Fanny published her music under her brother’s name.AWoman’sRole
14 Fanny never got the chance to play the piano for a public audience.
15 But after she was married, Fanny did get the opportunity to publish some of her music under her own name. Her husband, Wilhelm Hensel, was a doctor who supported Fanny’s decision. They had a son named Felix Ludwig Sebastian, whom they named after Fanny’s 3 favorite composers.
16 Meanwhile, Felix had made a name for himself throughout Europe Meanwhile, Felix had made a name for himself throughout Europe. He traveled to England often and was welcomed by the people there. He made friends with Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert of Germany. Even though he wasn’t English, he probably had the most significant impact on English music since Henry Purcell, who lived 150 years before.FelixQueen Victoria and Prince Albert
17 Felix or Fanny?Queen Victoria was known to be a very good singer, and Felix would often accompany her on the piano as she sung. After one particular song, she told Felix that it was her favorite of all his songs. Felix was happy to admit that it was one of his sister’s songs.
18 The Mendelssohn’s discover the greatness of J.S. Bach Felix and Fanny are both credited for their rediscovery of Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach’s music had been forgotten for 80 years until Felix and Fanny started performing his music.Felix made sure he played at least 2 hours of Bach’s music each day, and he would often perform Bach’s music at church services.Fanny once surprised her father by memorizing an entire volume of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier and playing it for him (48 songs in all 12 major and minor keys).
19 Felix and Fanny were not only brother and sister, but the best of friends. They continually wrote letters to each other throughout the years. Ironically, this close friendship is what killed Felix.
20 Fanny fell ill in early Felix made plans to leave England to see her, but before he even had a chance to leave, she had already died. She was only 42.
21 Felix returned home to Germany to attend the funeral and he fell into a deep depression. It came as a shattering blow to his already fragile health. He wrote in a letter, “I could not think of work, or even music, without feeling the most intense emptiness and barrenness in the mind and heart".
22 Felix and his wife went on vacation to Switzerland to take his mind off of his sister’s death. Felix was a very good artist too, and it is here that he made many watercolor paintings, like this one, of the Swiss countryside.
23 The vacation didn’t help. Felix couldn’t get over the grief The vacation didn’t help. Felix couldn’t get over the grief. In a letter to a friend, he said, "Now I must gradually begin to put my life and my work together again, with the awareness that Fanny is no longer there; and it leaves such a bitter taste that I still cannot see my way clearly or find any peace." Within 6 months, after a short illness, Mendelssohn died at the age of 38. It seems that Felix died of a broken heart.
24 Felix and Fanny both left an undeniable mark on the music world Felix and Fanny both left an undeniable mark on the music world. They each composed several hundreds of songs and large works, many of which are still performed in orchestras and other ensembles today. This song you are listening to is a famous song by Felix called “Spring Song.”
25 An “overture” is the music that is played before an opera or musical An “overture” is the music that is played before an opera or musical. Felix began to call pieces “overtures” even though they were all by themselves. This was a trend that many other composers used throughout the Romantic period, including…Tchaikovsky
26 Wedding March from Midsummer’s Night’s Dream Listening (click to start)Felix Mendelssohn:Wedding March from Midsummer’s Night’s DreamFanny Mendelssohn:Farewell to Rome