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Famous German Composer Felix Mendelssohn

Prelude

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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As I ponder my blog entry today, I’m in the process of scheduling new monthly jam sessions for my students!

In the past, as a summer workshop, Keyboard Jam proved to be very successful in stretching the students abilities, as well as giving them experience and enthusiasm for playing with other musicians! Have you read Nate Shaw’s two most recent articles on this very blog site? (If not, I hope that you will! I have added the links at the bottom of this article!)  Nate has some great ideas that I am definitely going to implement into my studio jam sessions, private lessons and recitals!

All of my students will be invited (pianists, singer, other instrumentalists). As the jam sessions become a huge hit, I will use them as an incentive, and extend invitation first to top practicers, best scales for the month, etc. All of the students will have fun creating music together, and learning how musicians work and play together. It works best to have separate sessions if you have a  large variance in ages and level of students. We will use the grand piano, a few keyboards, hand drums, shakers, my electric bass, and any other instruments that show up with the students.  There are so many different directions a class like this can take, but here’s a session plan that I have found to work extremely well!   [···]

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