Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Felix Mendelssohn was born on 3 February 1809 in Hamburg into a well to do and musical family, and his elder sister Fanny was also an excellent musician.
The family moved to Berlin in 1811 and Felix began receiving piano lessons from his mother when he was six years old. Both he and Fanny studied counterpoint, and Felix was greatly influenced by the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. He probably made his first public appearance at the age of nine, and before he was 14, he had a string of compositions – most of these were quickly forgotten, but have surfaced again in modern times. At 17, he composed the overture to Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, and his frequently played Wedding March was also written for the performance of this play.
Mendelssohn was widely acclaimed by the time he had reached 20 years of age, and encouraged by his father, he travelled widely. Italy inspired him to his fourth symphony (The Italian) and his visit to Fingal’s Cave off the Scottish coast triggered his Hebrides Overture - he was especially popular in England and Scotland. Also, his Violin concerto is still a favourite in concert halls and with recording artists to this day.
In 1835 he was appointed conductor of the famous Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. His time in Leipzig was very fruitful, and he was to establish a musical school there, which still bears his name to this day.
The composer did not enjoy good health in his later years and died at the early age of 38 after a series of strokes; he apparently once wrote of death as a place “where it is to be hoped there is still music, but no more sorrow or partings".
All in all, his musical output was phenomenal and he is rated by most music lovers today in the same breath as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

Fingal’s Cave was the World Championship test piece in 1991 (as indeed it had been in earlier years).