Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

1809-1847. Musical composer. He came of a wealthy and cultured Jewish family that had turned to the Lutheran Church. He was extraordinarily precocious, not only in music but in intellect, and was also talented in art. Many of his finest works were produced while he was in his teens. His presentation of Bach's St. Matthew Passion in 1829, for the first time since the composer's death, was a historic musical event of importance, and marked the beginning of the revival of Bach's great legacy of choral music. Mendelssohn spent much time in England, where he was enthusiastically received. His Elijah was written for the Birmingham Festival in 1846 (although to a German text and then translated) and is one of the greatest nineteenth-century oratorios. He wrote choral music with particular facility. While little of it was specifically for the church, extracts from his oratorios and cantatas are often used as service music. His setting of Psalm 43 for unaccompanied chorus is a fine piece of its kind. He exerted a perhaps too powerful influence on the lesser choral composers of his day.