Felix Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg on February 3, 1809 in the family of the banker Abraham, who was the son of the famous Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, and Leah Solomon. Parents renounced Judaism; their children did not get any religious education and were baptized in the Lutheran church in 1816. Surname Bartholdi was added to show a decisive break with the traditions of the ancestors.
The family moved to Berlin in 1811. Parents decided to give Felix, his brother and sisters the best education.
At the age of six, Felix Mendelssohn mother taught him playing piano. When he was seven years old, he studied with Marie Keine Bigot in Paris. Since 1817, he studied composition under Carl Friedrich Zelter. At the age of nine, he made his debut taking part in the chamber concert in Berlin.
Carl Zelter introduced Felix to his friend Goethe, who later shared his impressions of the young talent, citing a comparison with Mozart: "Musical miracles ... probably are not so rare anymore. Nevertheless, what this little man can do, playing at sight, it is a magic. I cannot believe that this is possible at such an early age. "
Later Felix met with Goethe several times and composed music to his poems.
Mendelssohn was admitted to the Berlin Choir Academy in 1819. From this moment, he composed right along. The first edition of his compositions was published in 1822, when the young composer was only 13 years old. He wrote his first symphony for the orchestra C minor at the age of 15. A year later, a work that showed the full power of his genius - Octet E flat major. This Octet and the overture from "Midsummer Night's Dream" ("Wedding March" being the part of it) written in 1826 are the most prominent of the composer's early works.
Later, Mendelssohn became a conductor in the Berlin choral academy, and was able to implement in 1829 the production of "St Matthew Passion" by Johann Bach. The success of this work laid the foundation for the revival of Bach's music in Germany, and then throughout Europe.
In 1833, Felix Mendelssohn became the conductor of the Rhine Music Festival in Düsseldorf, where he annually presented his works. In addition, two years later he started to conduct in Leipzig, setting a goal: to make it the European center of music.
The next year, in 1836, the composer received an honorary doctorate from the University of Leipzig. He met Cecil Jean Ren-Rénaud, daughter of a Protestant clergyman the same year. On March 28, 1837, they got married. Their marriage was very happy; the couple had five children.
The King of Prussia did not give up attempts to lure the composer to Berlin, and eventually Mendelssohn was appointed the Academy of Arts musical director. Until 1845, he periodically worked in Berlin, without leaving his position in Leipzig. Sometimes he traveled to England, performing his compositions in London and Birmingham, where he met with Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. The royal couple admired his music.
In 1843, Felix Mendelssohn founded the Leipzig Music Conservatory, the first educational institution of the kind in Germany, thus realizing his dream and making Leipzig the European musical center.
Gradually the composer's health deteriorated, he left for Switzerland to get treatment, but returned to Leipzig in the worse state of health. Felix Mendelssohn died on November 4, 1847 at the age of 38.