Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847)

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, heligravure (StadtMuseum Bonn, SMB 2006/273)
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, heligravure (StadtMuseum Bonn, SMB 2006/273)

Clara Wieck and Felix Mendelssohn met for the first time in the semi-public salons of Paris in 1832, where both Clara and Felix performed and could hear each other. Their acquaintance deepened in Leipzig: In October 1834, Felix went to see the Wiecks in order to hear Clara, who noted in her diary: “[He was really amazed when I played him Schumann’s Toccata [Op. 7], Chopin’s Arpeggio Étude (transposed from E flat to D flat), the Rondo from Chopin’s E flat, and my concert movement. The latter went far beyond his expectations].” On Clara’s 16th birthday, they both made music together for the first time, playing Mendelssohn’s Capriccio brilliant in B minor, Op. 22, on two pianos, and Clara also performed works by Schumann. On 9th November 1835, Mendelssohn, in his capacity as conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, directed the premiere of Clara Wieck’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7, which was published in 1837 in a revised version. In this concert, their first public appearance together, Clara also performed his Capriccio brilliant in B minor, Op. 22, of which Felix told his sister Fanny that Clara had played it “[like a little devil]”. Overall, Clara appeared 21 times under his direction – and they also played together in private time and again. Mendelssohn’s works, along with those by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Schumann, were part of Clara Schumann’s established repertoire. Mendelssohn appreciated Clara with a dedication of his Songs without Words, Book 5, Op. 62. They both shared a friendship which was based on mutual esteem as artists and personal sympathy.

Cf. Nancy B. Reich: Clara Schumann. The Artist and the Woman, London, 1985, pp. 218–220.

Cf. Schumann-Briefedition, Series II, Vol. 1: Freundes- und Künstlerbriefwechsel (Robert und Clara Schumann im Briefwechsel mit der Familie Mendelssohn), edited by Kristin R. M. Krahe, Katrin Reyersbach and Thomas Synofzik, Cologne, 2009, pp. 46–112, here pp. 46–49, 79.

(Theresa Schlegel, 2020, translated by Th. Henninger)

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