Composer Felix Jakob Ludwig Mendelssohn Bartholdy was born in 1809 in Hamburg, Germany and died only 38 years later. One of his most popular works has been the overture and incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, part of the magic of the 1935 b/w film by William Dieterle which featured Mickey Rooney as Puck. A number of accomplished symphonies as well as the remarkable Octet for Strings are among other favorites.

Johann Sebastian Bach is the most famous Baroque composer. Besides classical musicians and classical music fans, many students of metaphysics know J. S. Bach’s music because of David Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Glen Gould is known for his performances of Bach on the pianoforte; Bach originally composed for the harpsichord and the clavier. However, Bach’s works were rarely performed during his life and the fifty years after his death. Bach’s critics and contemporaries disliked Bach’s music because they found it too involved and lacking in immediate melodic appeal. After Bach’s death, his music was not renowned because it was considered too old. Unlike Mozart or Beethoven, who worked and performed in many different European cities, Bach never left Germany or the towns around his birthplace in Thuringia.

Felix Mendelssohn, born in 1809, fifty-nine years after Bach’s death, revived the work Bach, Georg Frideric Handel, and the public’s interest in older composers. After a period of silence for Bach’s music, in 1829 Mendelssohn led the Gweandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig in Bach’s St Matthew Passion. Mendelssohn was introduced to Bach’s music Friedrich Zelter. Zelter had studied with students of Bach and used much of Bach’s music to teach Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn also programmed (directed in performances) numerous other works of Bach and Handel.

Mendelssohn’s music is modeled more after Handel than Bach, but without Mendelssohn, Hofstadter may have written about an eternal golden twist, instead of a braid. For more information on the relationship between Mendelssohn and Bach read Gerald Hendrie’s Mendolssohn’s Rediscovery of Bach.

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