In 1842, Mendelssohn performed private concerts for Prince
Albert and Queen Victoria, who were both strong supporters of his work. A
year later, Mendelssohn founded and directed the Leipzig Conservatory, where
he also taught when his busy schedule permitted it. Despite
being a generally happy and pleasant individual, Mendelssohn was sometimes a
little too strict with his pupils; this was perhaps due to the fact that he was
so passionate about music, and had a difficult time listening to the beginners'
mistakes of his pupils. Nonetheless, the Conservatory remained one of the
most prestigious music institutions in Germany for half a century.
In addition to his post at the Conservatory, Mendelssohn was
named director of the Music Section of the Academy of Arts in Berlin by King Frederick of Prussia, but this appointment wasn't entirely pleasing for
Mendelssohn, who was often asked to compose on demand. He was left with
little time for his own work, but he still managed to compose such masterpieces
as the Ruy Blas overture, stage music for Shakespeare's " A Midsummer Night's
Dream", of which the now world-famous "Wedding March" was a part of, and "The
Scottish Symphony", the third of the five symphonies he composed during his
Felix Mendelssohn was very close to his family; from his
sister Fanny to his father, to his own wife and children, and he cherished the
moments spent with them. When his father died in 1835, Mendelssohn felt he
had lost his best friend. Seven years later, his mother died, adding to
the tragedy, but the worst was yet to come; following a Christmas family reunion, his sister Fanny suffered a stroke while rehearsing for a Sunday concert.
She died on May 14th, 1847. Felix Mendelssohn is said to have
screamed and fainted upon hearing the sad news, devastated by the loss.
Needless to say, Mendelssohn's mood did not improve following Fanny's death, and
he himself suffered two strokes, the last of which killed him on November 4th,
1847. He was 38 years old. He was buried alongside his sister in in
the cemetery of Holy Cross Church in Berlin.
While most of his life was spent in happiness, the final
years of his life saw mounting grief and tragedy; however, this did not deter
him from composing, and throughout the hardships he maintained the same degree
of inspiration and the same quality of work, despite his intensely busy schedule.
Some critics may argue that he would have been another Bach or Mozart if he had
suffered more in life, as the "tortured artist" cliché dictates. However,
it is interesting to note that even in death, there were more tragic incidents which
marred Mendelssohn's reputation. Nearly a hundred years after his death, the Nazis
tried to discredit him, taking down his statue in Leipzig, and even going as far
as forbidding the study and performance of his music.
Of course, none of their efforts to silence the voice of
genius had any success, and Mendelssohn is now considered the 19th century
equivalent of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Most critics agree that
Mendelssohn's most vibrant contributions were in the choral and organ music
genres, which was probably the result of his deep admiration for Bach and
Handel. Mendelssohn will remain the most successful composer of his time, but
more importantly, one of the most gifted and talented, surely deserving a place
alongside greats such as Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven, in the pantheon of musical