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The death of Dr. Mendelssohn, in the early with a distinction unparalleled, save by Mozart. part of the last month, is one of the most melan- Possibly, too, he found a decline of the physical choly casualties that have occurred in the musical power necessary to contend with the daily exiart for a long time. We naturally forget how gencies of his position. At any rate, his apmany similar and sudden experiences have sug- pearance in the orchestra, when last we saw gested the usual reflections on the uncertainty of him at the Philharmonic Society, did not betray life, and the vanity of human wishes, in the sight the fatal secret. Those who saw Mendelssohn of a young composer invested with all the goods on that brilliant occasion, honored by the presof fortune; the spectacle of artist-existence in ence of the Queen, revelling in his favorite favorite of the public so animated that we Pianoforte Concerto - Beethoven's G- with confer a kind of immortality upon it, and remove all the playful grace, the ease, and conscious into hazy obscurity and the dim vista of the mastery that communicated their peculiar charms future the last and greatest of evils. But surely to the performance, can scarcely have anticipated the recollection of C. M. von Weber, carried off that, in a few short months, the player and his in the first acclamation of his triumph among piece would become alike food for history. That us, and of the early doom of Bellini, the most those inconceivably rapid and elastic fingers, inventive melodist and dramatic genius of mod- whose " artful and unimaginable touches” creern Italy, with numerous promising names in ated the uproar of enthusiasm in the concertthe humbler ranks of art, should teach us our room, should not delight us from season to season error in wilfully excepting genius from the influ- for a course of years seemed impossible. Never ence of the ordinary rule of human instability. was a man so “ booked” in public expectation When a composer fulfils the arduous duties, and for long prosperity. Removed from envy, rivalcomplicated responsibilities, of Mendelssohn, he ry, and detraction, in the possession of an ample attains the giddiest height of prosperity and ap- fortune, he had nothing to do but to live; to live plause, with proportionate danger to health and was to flourish, and to perform what was easy life; and now that the melancholy event is to him. passed, we begin to look into its prognostics. Such was the promising aspect in which Dr.
We remember that, of late, he was solicitous Mendelssohn appeared in the lighted evening rather to avoid engagements than to accept concert-room to his admiring audience. By them; that he would not conduct the Leipsic daylight, and in closer contiguity, the spectator subscription concerts this year; that he was often was struck by a certain appearance of premature with difficulty induced to play; and that he found age which his countenance exhibited; he seemed himself physically incompetent to cope with the already to have outstretched the natural term of weight of the Birmingham organ at the last fes- his existence by at least ten years. No one, tival. What he had formerly undertaken with judging by the lines in his face, would have cheerful and ready compliance, he now reluc- guessed his age to be thirty-nine only. The distantly accepted, or absolutely refused. It is true proportion between his actual age and the charthat, after a career of some twenty years before acter of his face was especially noticed at the the public, applause was not to seek; he had morning “ Homage to Mendelssohn," performed exhibited marvels of facility as concerto and in Harley Street by the Beethoven Quartet extempore player on the organ and pianoforte, Society. Here he was gay and animated, and and amidst such frenzied plaudits, that the in- played delightfully; but, to the surprise of close toxicating draught of youthful ambition may observers, was no longer a young man. He had have lost its stimulus. Like some other heroes, compressed a great deal of life into a short comhowever, he also may have found perpetual pass, and wanted a stronger physical constitution glory of itself an accumulating and intolerable to support the throes of perpetual invention, and weight, and that a great name and figure in the the excitement consequent on his elevated posieye of the world are dearly purchased by con- tion. He was conscientious in fulfilling what he stant toil and responsibility. He may have owed to his art, and to the public who cherished wished to anticipate the honorable repose of age him; he sought to confirm "golden opinions” in consideration of the more than double duty of by the most generous efforts, and in the end his youth - having in his various capacities of may almost be described as “killed by kindcomposer, concerto player, extempore player, ness.” The path of genius will always be chivaland conductor of an orchestra, acquitted himself | rous from its self-sacrificing ambition; and if the
cold neglect of the last century, and the eager took lessons of any famous master who happened patronage of the present, produce like results to to be sojourning in Berlin, thus appropriating the composer, society has at least advanced in the different excellences of many artists, Humgranting the artist during his lifetime the full mel, Moscheles, &c. The musical capacities of content of appreciation and sympathy.
these accomplished children are described as The prosperous course of Felix Mendelssohn nearly equal; a generous emulation prevailed from infancy to maturity will always remain a between them; sometimes the brother was in bright and pleasant dream for artists in this con- advance, sometimes the sister. A life-long, pra tentious world. The advantages of a good posi- found sympathy and attachment grew out of tion by birth; of possessing a name already their common musical studies; and to appreciate celebrated in the walks of literature and philoso the beauty of the nearness of kin and of soul phy; of musical parents, who quickly discerned subsisting between Mendelssohn and his sister, the bent of his genius, and who spared no pains Music, with her impassioned and elevated influin developing it; of early intercourse with men ences, must aid us. Rarely are kindred gifts of of remarkable endowments, from whom he im- high genius bestowed upon a brother and sister; bibed the tastes natural to intellectual preëmi- but of Mendelssohn and Madame Henvel * it nence and refined education all these united may truly be said for him in such a measure, that until the fairies
"Like fortunes did their souls acquaint." again assemble round the cradle of a child with their good gifts, we shall look in vain for a similar
The steps by which the youthful artist accompicture of happy artist boyhood. Mendelssohn plished that complete readiness of eye and hand, was born at Hamburg, Feb. 3, 1809. His father, of musical intellect and ear, which rendered him a distinguished merchant at Berlin, found in that
as a practical musician the wonder of our age, city the best materials for the musical and intel
are obvious. Difficulty had at length no place lectual cultivation of his son. We are strongly in his vocabulary; he had learned to anticipate reminded of the history of the Mozart family in all the combinations of pianoforte music; and the infant musical promise of Mendelssohn and his early industry so far, of late, superseded the his elder sister, almost his rival in skill, who necessity of practice, that he has been known to always accompanied him in his tastes, and whom, play both the organ and pianoforte in public by a remarkable fatality and coincidence in the after intermitting practice for months. He susmortal attack, he has this year accompanied to tained to the end all the assaults of the most the tomb. In the case of the children of M. inveterate mechanism; and, with Liszt and Mendelssohn, the mother, however, was the Thalberg in the field, was incontestibly the first good genius who chiefly influenced their musical pianoforte player of his day. Music, whose true progress. This lady was herself an excellent votary he was, never deserted him, and taught practical musician, formed in the schools of Se- the most industrious saloon players, when he bastian and Emanuel Bach; and not only did
was present, to know their place. she appreciate the works of these models of
The plan pursued to form young Mendelssohn musical science, but their utility in developing as a composer was directed also by great intellithe musical dispositions of the young. Her ex. gence. He had been placed for this branch of ample is worthy of imitation. She commenced art under Zetter, of the singing academy, a with lessons of five minutes' duration, gradually thoughtful master, and the correspondent of extending them; and so rapid was the child's Goethe; and Zetter thought too highly of his progress under her tuition, that by his eighth charge to fetter his genius by scholastic rules. year he mastered with ease passages requiring a The exercises be made under Zetter were very skilful execution. At this tender age, he chiefly little symphonies in four parts, for stringed was also able to transpose the pieces in Cramer's instruments, in composing which he followed the studio, and to play from the scores of Bach at bent of his genius. After what fancy and imagsight. His ear readily detected fifths and other ination had achieved for the music of modern inaccuracies in counterpoint. He discovered an Gerinany, it was feared that systems might stifle error of this sort which had previously escaped deteetion in a motet by Bach. The precocity * The memory of this lady was as wonderful as which he displayed excited general admiration that of her brother. On her father's birthday, she once
performed, as a surprise to him, an incredible feat, and the masters who successively assisted in his namely, of playing, by memory, the whole of the musical education were fully persuaded that they The recollection of a fugue implies that of the entire were rearing another Mozart.
movement of its parts, and its difficulty can be appreLouis Berger, of Berlin, succeeded the mother ciated only by experiment. It is a certain test of of Mendelssohn as his musical instructor; and, with some of Madame Henvel's compositions, which subsequently, the boy, together with his sister, are of similar texture to her brother's.
some important poetical new birth. In spite of , and conductor of an orchestra. Here was a the license to run wild, order, elearness, and young man who honored his place in the orchesregularity still distinguished the productions of tra by what he could do out of it; he not merely the student, and were the index to the character beat time with a stick for others to play, of his mind. The domestic musical habits of but played himself, challenging every kind of Mendelssohn's family were still more happily musical difficulty, and coming off constantly vicdisposed to excite his enthusiasm för composition torious. Wherever he was, he created that than the approbation and encouragement of his atmosphere of wonder and excitement in which preceptor. Every fortnight, there was a concert the musician delights. If he was to play on the at the Mendelssohn's, at which a quartet of good organ, to make a cadence to a concerto on the artists performed a variety of classical composi- pianoforte, or even about to rehearse an overtions, and together with them the last new sym- ture or symphony, every one was on tiptoe for phony of “Felix. What an advantage this! some characteristic and delightful trait. From Surely the music of young composer was never public life he was followed into private, with a before nursed in such softness and delight, amidst kind of devotion; his obliging disposition, his such kind family sympathy and so much en- polished and agreeable manners, and the stores couragement from musicians. By the time he of his reading, rendering his conversation second reached twenty, he was not only the greatest only in interest to his music. In poetry he was player of the day, but the character of his com so well versed, that scarcely a quotation could positions entitled him to occupy that place in be made unfamiliar to him, in its fullest force of the interest of the public which Beethoven and word or phrase ; his drawings, also, were those Weber had not long resigned. Before his first of a distinguished amateur. Sympathies like published works, two pianoforte quartets, had these, with the whole circle of the fine arts, reached us, his name and promise were familiar qualified him in a remarkable manner for generin England through the medium of foreign mu al society; and Mendelssohn is, perhaps, the sical journals, and the connexions of the British first eminently gifted musician whose conversaembassy at Berlin. His first English associations tion and intimacy have been sought purely for were, probably, formed at the parties of Mrs. their own charm alone. It was a compliment Austin, then resident in that city; and when he frequently paid to the social capacity of Mendelsarrived in this country (in 1829), to verify the sohn to have him without music. prepossessions of his adınirers, he still lived in During the present century, the lives of great great intimacy with her family.
artists have been less recluse than formerly. But there wanted no protection for such pro- The known amiable dispositions of Weber and digious powers as Mendelssohn exhibited at Spohr have proved a most favorable illustration twenty years of age, when his first symphony of eir works, and personal estcem for the comwas introduced at the Philharmonic Concerts. posers has much assisted their progress, and He was received with open arms; and though promoted their effect. At what precise time the highest art here is rarely much regarded in Mendelssohn committed his fortunes to the art, the highest society, he, in the end, recommended and turned from his amateur position into a himself peculiarly to royal favor. The effect of profession for which he was not originally dehis first appearance in England was strongly signed, we forget; but, notwithstanding the pubassisted by circumstances. Weber's overtures lic and private advantages of his auspicious and Beethoven's symphonies were then first commencement, he was never tempted to abuse making their true impression at the Philharmon- | them. Profitable speculation had no charms for ic, and the public, in a transport of enthusiasm, him, compared with fidelity to art. The art was were just awakening to a due sense of the loss ever uppermost; and whatever subject was proof those masters, when the youth stepped forward posed to him for music was obliged to interest who was to wield the mighty implements of their his imagination. He cautiously even then proart. Still, it was not merely by his early and duced his works in public, and desired to review profound mastery of the mechanism and poetry and correct them, when time had given them of composition that Mendelssohn made such some appearance of novelty even to himself. rapid progress in the affections of the English ; Thus the Walpurgis Nacht, that gloomy and his extraordinary personal endowments, in which poetical Druidical picture, though only perfine playing, an intuitive kind of musical lead formed in London two or three seasons ago, was ing, a vast memory, which embraced the details a product of his intimacy with Goethe, and of as well as the broad features of a score, and a the suggestion of the poet. It is a very early fine talent of improvisation were conspicuous, item in his musical catalogue. altogether realized an idea of genius which we Like Mozart, he completed entire compositions do not readily concede to an occasional composer in his mind, and often alluded to them as finished
while yet no note was on paper. He was wont | among his other studies he had not omitted himto regulate the march of his productions in re- self. Where
natural impulse did not carry him, gard to variety and quality : now a more familiar, he cared not to go. now a more difficult work, announced his pres As a composer of oratorios, he was possessed ence in the musical world. He thus maintained by the noblest ambition. In St. Paul and Elipublic interest and expectation through the jah, he exhibits the broad massive style of Hanvarious aspects of his genius, and advanced by del and Bach; he boldly enters the same arena, the steps of fame well calculated and assured. and adopts the same diatonic simplicity in its He exercised severe criticism on his own pro- succession of fugues and choral introductions, ductions, and often replaced entire movements. taking only due advantage of the progress of the
The genius which Mendelssohn displayed in instrumental art. Here was his great superioriinstrumental composition was characterized by ty. In discriminating the voices and tones of strong individuality. His third symphony in A instruments, he had the greatest ability; and his minor seems to open the true era of his strength orchestration, on the whole, may be considered in that department. The fine adagio of this as the latest model of the perfection of the art. work is a great achievement, Mendelssohn suc His songs and miscellaneous compositions would ceeding better in light and piquant fancies than carry us too far to notice. Mendelssohn's genius in profound, sustained, and original melody. The can only be appreciated by reference to that of scherzas of his works in general are so excellent the greatest masters; the intellectual character as to be quite prominent in modern art; his al- of his music was first-rate; but, in the sensuouslegros come next in interest, and his slow move- ness and voluptuousness of mere melody, it was ments last. His ottetto for stringed instruments is deficient. If he fell short of the greatest aim, one of his most beautiful compositions ; he has he fell nobly. No man was ever more powernever written a larger or more impassioned alle fully imbued with the spirit of the artist: he lived gro
than the opening one to this. His third piano- “ apart” amidst great designs and resolutions : forte quartet, in B minor, is one of the best of nothing base approached his soul. his production for the pianoforte and stringed It is now some eighteen years since we began instruments, and greatly surpasses in interest his to watch for the periodical return of Mendelstrios and sonatas for the piano and violoncello. sohn to London, like that of the flowers in The defect of his chamber-music is some tinc- spring. He is inseparably associated with our ture of monotony in the melodies and effects; it last recollections of the festival of the Sons of is surprising that so fertile an extemporizer did the Clergy," as it is used to be kept. The late not exbibit more variety in the decorative bra- organist, Mr. Attwood, who loved him as a son, vura passages incidental to piano-forte music. always expected him at the organ for the last The “Songs without words,” which he used to voluntary; and the musicians present, each play so beautifully, retain still their charm of anxious to obtain a view of him, used to form individuality and style. In every thing he suc-themselves into a thick cloud above his head. ceeded best where he himself struck out the path. One of his first exhibitions was the conversion
His cantata and sacred music has still been of a phrase from the first chorus of the Dettingen but imperfectly heard: we have had large, but Te Deum, and another from the Hallelujah Chonof select, orchestras employed on these works; rus, into a double fugue. This, by some musiand the effect of the chorus from St. Paul, cians, was thought to be premeditated; but it
Happy and Blest,” accompanied by the Phil was not so in fact. He knew every thing in harmonic orchestra, realized the freshness of a music, and his contrapuntal mind taught him first impression. The same novelty of effect instantly what would go together. Arriving may
be anticipated from the delightful choruses late at a concert, where he has been expected in Antigone, when we hear them with the proper to play extempore, he would take a bill from his singers and a great orchestra. His power of pocket, with the words, “ Let me see, what have painting dramatic situation, according to the they been doing?” and then would combine in moving pictures of life with which we are con his fantasia something that had been done with versant in opera-books, may be doubted. The what he had just heard. This was the readiness Marriage of Camacho had no great success, and of his science and practical skill. Then for his the romantic modern drama appears to have memory, - he would go through whole volumes possessed few charms for him. Mendelssohn's of Beethoven and Bach. Not only that with was of an epic turn; he described passions and which early practice had imbued him had he in events in the mass, and under the influence of present command, but whatever novelty of merit the past, with great truth; but this failed him in he was at the pains to study remained as if the mere conventional situations of the drama. stamped in his mind. The world is, in general, He made few dramatic efforts, probably because very glad to take the intellectual measure of a
favorite: but Mendelssohn withstood all the circumstances of his life since he left us. At the trials to which he was exposed, and the limit of close of the season he appeared in his usual his extempore capacity was never ascertained. health, and passed into Switzerland for the sumIn his cadences to pianoforte concertos he mer. Here the news of his sister's sudden never repeated himself, and whenever he re- death deeply affected him. She was with a hearsed them (as is sometimes necessary in the party rehearsing his Walpurgis Nacht, when music of Beethoven), he did it with fun, show- she was seized with what appeared to be a fainting himself perfectly at ease with respect to exe- ing fit, but it proved to be paralysis of the cution and invention. Mr. Lucas will, probably, brain, and carried her off in three days. The remember the difficulty he had in bringing in the mother of Mendelssohn had died of a similar band in the right place, when Mendelssohn first attack, and it strongly appeared to him that, in rehearsed Beethoven's Concerto in G. These in these events, his own doom was foretold. He are pleasant memories of the master. Then, for did not conceal that he apprehended a similar good music, he was always so impassioned, that termination to his own life, and, in spite of all his brilliant example, could it have lasted, would, friendly dissuasions from the encouragement of in the end, have moved the whole musical world. such a train of thought, his prophecy was literally How much he did for Bach! How many of fulfilled. He departed like his sister, and in the that master's MSS. pedal fugues, &c. were first same manner, being seized with illness while he played by him from memory! and how often he was accompanying a lady in a song he had just declared, by word and deed, that he knew no composed. From his first attack he partially such composer !
recovered, and was able to take a drive; but a Let success have been heaped upon Men- relapse occurred. He lay for a whole day in a delssohn in what measure it may, we still owe state of insensibility, and in this manner the him our love for the unselfish love which he lav- great and rising genius of the age breathed his ished on the art. We have only to add a few | last. Fraser's Magazine.
Briefe aus Indien von Dr. W. Hoffmeister. I the favorable notice of the learned, has left be
Braunschweig, 1847. (Letters from India, hind him nothing but scattered leaves, which by Dr. W. Hoffmeister, Physician in the however are the
more interesting because the Suite of Prince Waldemar of Prussia. sketches, though hastily made, bear the marks of Compiled from his letters and Journals, a sure and experienced hand, and give a vivid by Dr. A. Hoffmeister.)
representation of the scenes through wbich he
passed, and which he desired to communicate to Every one who attentively peruses these let his friends at home. It leads us moreover to ters, which their writer sent from distant coun- places which are but seldom visited by travellers, tries to his friends at home, will experience min- and least of all by Germans, and that under cirgled feelings of pleasure and grief;- of pleas- cumstances which would be quite impossible to ure at the vivid representations of new objects, private tourists. It is true that we have only at the lucid descriptions of new scenes, with detached letters, which were not intended for which the narrator is constantly becoming ac- publication ; but the chasms have been filled up quainted; at the unwearied perseverance with from the writer's journal, or short letters have which he overcomes all difficulties and encoun been joined together and arranged in chronoters all dangers; at the freshness and liveliness logical order.” A short preface by Professor with which he depicts all the events in which Ritter conveys some particulars respecting the he bore a part; -of sincere grief on the other brief life of the author. Born at Brunswick in hand when he remembers that this young man, the year 1819, he distinguished himself at an gifted with extraordinary talents and apparently early age as a zealous student of natural history, destined to render important services in the and was selected to fill the post of physician and cause of science, in full vigor of youth and fresh- companion to Prince Waldemar of Prussia. ness of life was suddenly by a chance shot hur The first letter, dated September 21, 1844, ried away from the scene of his action and describes the voyage from Triest to Athens, promising career. And thus W. Hoffmeister, Corfu, Patras, and Corinth, and gives some whose scientific pursuits had already attracted pleasing particulars of the domestic life of the