Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period.
Mendelssohn is often compared to Mozart. Both of them were child prodigies, both had a talented sister and they both died at a young age. Mendelssohn, who as a child also painted wrote poetry, was born in small family which converted to christianity from judaism. As a composer he preferred looking back, rather than forward: his main examples were Bach, Handel and Mozart. It was Mendelssohn who retrieved Bach from oblivion and pushed for a revival of his music, which still lasts today. One century after its premier, Mendelsson performed the St Matthew Passion for the second time ever, in 1829.
Three years, earlier, on his 17th, he had already composed his masterfully overture A midsummer night's dream op. 21, based on Shakespeare's play. Today, it is still considered as one of the absolute masterpieces in all of the orchestra reperoire. His Violin Concerto op. 64 belongs to the most beautiful works of the 19th century as well. During his travels through Europe, he wrote his brilliant Italian Symphony, Scottish Symphony and the overture The Hebrides.
Although Mendelssohn had a prosperous career, his weak physique made him emotionally vulnerable. The death of his favourite sister Fanny became fatal: Mendelssohn died in the same year, at the age of 38.
Frédéric Chopin is one of the greatest composers of the Romantic piano tradition. He was a master in making the small form great. His ballades, mazurkas, polonaises, preludes, etudes and nocturnes all belong to the most popular standard works for piano ever written.
As a child prodigy, Chopin grew up in a middle class family, who lived among the literati of Warsaw. When in 1830 the November Uprising broke out in Poland, the twenty year old Chopin stayed in Vienna. He became an exile and never returned to his mother country. He eventually settled in Paris.
He avoided public concerts, but he did like performing in small settings, such as salons and at home for his friends. This way, Chopin built a reputation as an exceptional pianist, teacher and composer.
Chopin brought a unique synthesis between the Viennese bravado and the French/English lyric style. Even though his pieces often are technically very demanding, the focus was always on creating a lyric expression and poetic atmosphere. He invented the instrumental ballade, and brought salongenres to a higher level with his many innovations and refinements.