Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

After dinner came Mendelssohn Bartholdy, whose acquaintance I was so anxious to make… He is short, dark, & Jewish looking- delicate- with a fine intellectual forehead. I should say he must be about 35 or 6. He is very pleasing & modest, & is greatly protected by the King of Prussia. He played first of all some of his Lieder ohne Worte (Songs without Words) after which, his Serenade & then, he asked us to give him a theme, upon which he could improvise. We gave him 2, Rule Britannia & the Austrian National Anthem. He began immediately, & really I have never heard anything so beautiful; the way in which he blended them both together & changed over from one to the other, was quite wonderful as well as the exquisite harmony & feeling he puts into the variations, & the powerful rich chords & modulations, which reminded one of all his beautiful compositions. At one moment he played the Austrian Anthem with the right hand, he played Rule Britannia, as the bass, with his left! He made some further improvisations on well known themes & songs. We were all filled with the greatest admiration. Poor Mendelssohn was quite exhausted, when he was done playing.

Buckingham Palace, London, England
Diary of Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria
June 1842