The Hofstra University Choir and String Orchestra put on a fabulous holiday concert in the John Cranford Adams Playhouse on December 10th, 2013. The concert featured works by Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, and Anton Arensky, just to name a few. The holiday spirit was exuded through the concert hall and audience members left in awe of the talent that Hofstra University fosters.
One of the composers included in the concert was Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). Felix was born in the German city of Hamburg to the Jewish family of Leah Salomon and Abraham Mendelssohn, who was a wealthy banker. From a young age, Felix Mendelssohn showed the true talent of a prodigy and being born in a family of well-to-do scholars definitely had its advantages; providing the ideal cultural environment for the artistic and talented young Felix. The Mendelssohn family traveled throughout Europe but eventually ended up settling down in Berlin. This move to Berlin proved to be extremely beneficial for Felix, who though he had received prior musical instruction from his sister Fanny, it was there he was really able to flourish as he studied the piano under Ludwig Berger and composition with Karl. F. Zelter.
Mendelssohn was very influenced by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Felix’s aunt had collected a number of Bach manuscripts which he was introduced to and Bach's music, which had fallen into relative obscurity by the turn of the 19th century, was also deeply respected by Felix's teacher Zelter. Mendelssohn was so inspired by Bach’s work that he arranged and conducted a performance in Berlin of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. This performance and its success was an important element in the revival of J.S. Bach's music in Germany and all throughout Europe. As well as earning Mendelssohn widespread acclaim at the young age of twenty. At the time, there had been little interest in Bach's music, but Mendelssohn changed all that, using his own popularity and the singers and soloists of the Singakademie, a musical society founded in Berlin, to help renew interest in the great composer's work. Mendelssohn gave the same amount of fame to Franz Schubert. Another one of his inspirations, he conducted the premiere of Schubert's Ninth Symphony, more than a decade after the composer's death, reviving the interest in his work.
Felix Mendelssohn is best known for his composition of the overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream: Opus 21, in 1826. Mendelssohn, who found inspiration in the works of the English playwright William Shakespeare, featured luxurious orchestration throughout the piece. The most famous part of this composition is The Wedding March, added as incidental music in 1842, and which people today, in many English-speaking countries, have performed as the bridal party files out at the end of the wedding service. This piece only became widely used in weddings after Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, Victoria, used it when she married the Crown Prince of Prussia in...