Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in London
The series about historical places of opera art & culture. Get to know exciting excursion and travel ideas for opera lovers. This time: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in London.
All Destinations on google maps with links to detailed Blogposts:
Mendelssohn in London
Already during his first stay as a 19-year-old, Mendelssohn was celebrated, performing his own and other people’s works there. Among other works, he played his first symphony and the Summer Night Overture. An anecdote says that on his return from the concert he left the score of the overture in a cab, whereupon he wrote it down flawlessly from memory.
Mendelssohn met many celebrities such as Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria, for whom he played music several times (see below). A secretive relationship with the famous opera singer Jenny Lind culminated in London in 1847. The two had met in Germany as early as 1844 and possibly fell in love. The married Mendelssohn is said to have written her hot-blooded letters, even threatening suicide. However it is not completely certain, the letters were destroyed. On his last London trip he saw her in Convent Garden and (one is not sure) also in Belgravia House. Mendelssohn’s death shortly thereafter put an end to the relationship. Bad luck stuck to the Lind’s feet, for a little later Jenny Lind sought solace with another famous composer, who also died shortly thereafter.
The concert halls where Mendelssohn conducted in London have largely disappeared, only St. Paul’s Cathedral can still be visited, where Mendelssohn excelled as an organ virtuoso.
Destination Buckingham Palace
Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert were music-loving regents and Felix Mendelssohn saw them several times. The two often invited artists to perform at Buckingham Palace, and Mendelssohn alone gave three concerts at the palace. On one private visit, Queen Victoria sang to him and Prince Albert played the organ.
A contemporary painter had captured the scene:
Queen Victoria noted this moment in her diary and later allowed Mendelssohn to dedicate the 3rd Symphony (“Scottish”) to her.
You can still recognize the furniture in the Music Salon:
Mendelssohn often stayed at 4, Hobart Place in Belgravia during his London stays. His childhood friend from Berlin days, the diplomat and poet Karl Klingemann, lived there. He spent a total of four months at five stays. Klingemann was a member of the Hanoverian legation in England. The building is now owned by private individuals and is a listed building. A memorial plaque commemorates the famous visitor.
4, Hobart Place Belgravia:
Destination St Paul’s Cathedral
Mendelssohn was a gifted organist. He visited St. Paul’s Cathedral several times, played there often, and also heard a Handel oratorio there. His organ recital of 1837 must have been particularly impressive, when Mendelssohn played Bach and the audience refused to leave the church. Only when the calculants (the bellows treaders) went home did the instrument run out of breath.
St. Paul’s Cathedral:
St. Paul’s is still a place of concerts: