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.
Gioachino Rossini was born in 1797 in Pesaro, born to a hornist and opera singer. He spent his youth in the opera hall and at the age of 14 he started his studies to become a composer in Bologna, where he was taught to use a strict counterpoint technique. Quite soon, Rossini composing a large number of operas: his famous comic operas (among which his Il Barbiere di Siviglia) in his early twenties, and most of his serious operas in his late twenties. With his compelling, rhythmic music, which was characterised by its orchestral exuberance and coloratura fireworks, Rossini took over the world of music, to the frustration of critics and academics. When he reached the age of 31, he left Italy and traveled to London and Paris. His success made him powerfully rich. Rossini retired early. With almost 40 years still to live, he composed his last opera, Guillaume Tell, in Paris. Some reasons for his unexpected retirement could be his recurring illness, his financial stability and the adverse political and artistic conditions of the time. For 20 years, Rossini struggled with his health. He returned to Paris in 1855, where he recovered to some extent. Together with his wife, he organised special dinner parties for the upper class, and for those occasions he wrote his many chamber music works, which he referred to as his Péchés de Vieillesse. He died in 1868. Rossini's image is characterised by the many humoristic anecdotes about him. Yet, even though his comic operas are masterfully composed, his serious operas have been truly influential and formed the basis for the romantic operas of Donizetti and Bellini.