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If Mendelssohn had known he would die before he was forty, he could scarcely have filled his life with more activity and achievement. His startling precocity is equalled perhaps only by Mozart, though Mozart was never a skilled painter and caricaturist, a subtle student of philosophy and literature, or an admired musicologist and promoter of other people’s music.
Roger Nichols has skilfully drawn together memoirs and reminiscences from many sources to give a flavour of the esteem in which Mendelssohn was held. Published here for the first time, for instance, are extracts from Queen Victoria’s own journal, in which she records her meetings with the composer. Mendelssohn’s own views are recorded by friends and colleagues. His views on teaching, composition and philosophy have a strikingly modern tone, and the charm and spirited energy that impressed all who knew him are very evident here.
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