With the presence of the Gewandhausorchester for two concerts, the programme intends to pay a special tribute to Mendelssohn's musical and cultural stature, be it in the course of symphonic evenings or the two chamber concerts specifically dedicated to this great composer.
"In the evening I went to the Quartet, it became very interesting today because of Mendelssohn's playing. He played his Trio, which I've wanted to hear by him for a long time. That was followed by Beethoven's magnificent Quartet in E flat, and Mendelssohn concluded with two of his earlier and two more recent Songs without Words. I know of no performer whose playing makes me feel so good, and one really doesn't know in which genre one prefers hearing him, he plays everything equally masterfully."
The author of these lines written in January 1841 was one of the most eminent female cultural personalities of the 19th century: the composer and pianist Clara Wieck, wife of Robert Schumann and close friend of Johannes Brahms. This statement was made in the unusual and exciting diary that the Schumann couple kept together for four years ("This little book shall be a diary about everything that touches us mutually in our household and marriage" wrote Robert in the dedication).
It is precisely among this daily und unfiltered exchange of notes within the most influential 19th-century musical couple that the personality of a fellow musician gradually emerged with particular intensity. Mendelssohn seemed to reunite all of the human and artistic qualities: the performer's ability, the composer's imagination, the critic's intelligence and the music lover's passion. "That man has it all: life and spirit!" summed up Clara Schumann.
In fact, it is difficult to find in the German early 19th century a musician as complete culturally speaking as Felix Mendelssohn. Born in Hamburg in a wealthy and educated Jewish family converted to Protestantism, Mendelssohn benefited from a solid education in both humanities and music. He had the opportunity to meet the likes of Goethe and to undertake long trips abroad to complete his education. After his debut as a pianist at the age of eight, Mendelssohn devoted himself to composition from his adolescent years onwards, already showing an original and personal style. His two-track musical career as both a performer and a composer reached out to the whole of Europe, with Leipzig as its epicentre. Mendelssohn settled down in the Saxon city until his death, which occurred prematurely in 1847. Thanks to the musician's industriousness (as from 1835 he was the director of the Gewandhaus Concert Society and in 1843 founded the Conservatory), Leipzig became one of Europe's major music centres.