Famous German Composer Felix Mendelssohn


My journey of discovery into the extraordinary relationship that the famous German composer Felix Mendelssohn enjoyed with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert began back in 2009. Whilst researching his visit to North Wales, as outlined in my previous article (“Mendelssohn: Part 1 – In North Wales”), I discovered that he had made several visits to Buckingham Palace in London where he and the royals struck up a close friendship based on their mutual love of music and the arts.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as Musicians

Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and Prince Albert (1819-1861) were both very accomplished pianists and singers. Prince Albert was also a keen composer from an early age, writing many songs and choral pieces. It was their shared love of music that helped them form an attraction to each other. Victoria noted Albert’s skill at the piano when they first met in 1836. The day after the Queen’s proposal of marriage to Albert, she wrote, “…he sang to me some of his own compositions, which are beautiful, & he has a very fine voice. I also sang for him.” They enjoyed playing piano duets together and accompanying as the other sang, always taking their sheet music with them wherever they would travel. They were both keen followers of theatre and opera, Queen Victoria seeing up to 50 performances per year! Whilst in London as a youngster she would attend two or three performances in the West End each week!

Enter Mendelssohn: 14th and 15th of June, 1842

Prince Albert was an enthusiastic follower of Mendelssohn’s music and it was he who introduced the Queen to Felix’s works for piano and voice. The composer first met just the Prince on the morning of the 14th of June 1842 when he hand delivered a letter from Albert’s cousin, the King of Prussia (Frederick William IV). He was then invited to Buckingham Palace the following evening to meet the Queen. According to an account by Kupferberg, the royals were feeling quite nervous about meeting their musical hero; “for all their exalted station, [they] were quite fluttery!” Apparently, Mendelssohn felt the same way. [···]

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Photo: ClizBiz

There are people who prefer to say ‘Yes’, and there are people who prefer to say ‘No’. Those who say ‘Yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say ‘No’ are rewarded by the safety they attain.

–       Keith Johnstone.

Recently, I began taking improv classes (theatrical improvisation), a completely new direction for me. I have not been able to perform as a professional pianist for years now, owing to a health condition, so I was delighted to be able to take part in another performing art, even as a beginner.

What I hadn’t expected was how deep the experience would be for me, and how its principles are seeping into my everyday life– affecting my relationships with friends, family, and students. It is gradually becoming a way of life, a way of being. [···]

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Isn’t it funny how often we say that we know what we want, but we can’t seem to get there?  In my job as a life coach for musicians, this is one thing I often hear from my clients.   So we draw diagrams, put together action plans, list next steps, set goals for 3 months, 6 months, one year… And then the next time we meet often little has changed.  I’ve come to expect this now, and don’t take it as a setback.  It’s just a sign that other factors have come into play. This article is about how to tackle those other factors that get between you and what you really want. [···]

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