First Encounters

A wunderkind was nothing new to Johann Wolfgang Goethe. In 1763 he had joined a concert where the young Mozart played the harpsichord. And while a wunderkind does not simple plays the harpsichord, Mozarts hands where covered by a cloth, to show that a true genius is able to think of whatsoever while finding and following the tunes of a piece. Many years, oh centuries later, Sally, who was not a wunderkind but the actress Meg Ryan, demonstrated that women do not even need a piece of cloth to make a man believe that he is a wunderkind, and of course most men do not even play a harpsichord at all, while most women think whatsoever when sleeping with whoever. So in 1821 when the twelve – year old Felix Mendelssohn met the old poet Goethe, accompanied by his teacher Zelter, both Goethe and Mendelssohn where quite well prepared of what to expect from each other. The Mendelssohn family was enthusiastic about Goethe, Lea Mendelssohn ended most of her sentences with: My Goethe is right! Her son Felix will use the sentence as an ironic one, Goethe would have be pleased by this, I assume. When Mendelssohn arrived in Weimar a town, with not much irony in it, and as soon as Felix Mendelssohn arrived in Weimar he started to play the piano and as it seems for very long hours, but a wunderkind has to what a wunderkind has to do. And Goethe thought it not wise to bore the wunderkind and himself with clothes on hands, but returned from his study which a more daunting task: he presented to Mendelssohn an autograph in Beethoven’s hieroglyphic hand-writing and the boy just started playing “ Wonne der Wehmut“ op. 31, No. 1, on the Streicher Piano, which still stands at the Goethe-Haus, in the still not very ironic town of Weimar. After Goethe listened to some of Mendelssohns’s own compositions he is quoted by Zelter in saying: “What your pupil already accomplishes bears the same relation to the Mozart of that time, that the cultivated talk of a grown-up person does to the prattle of a child.” And of course Mendelssohns talents were extraordinary, he was a pianist, organist and conductor, played the violin as well as the viola and worked as a composer. But he was much more than a well- trained technician in the field of music, he was fluent in German and French, learned later in life English, could read Latin and Greek and had a fine sense for poetry. Of course, my Goethe is right. Queen Victoria twenty years later became a great and accomplished admirer of Mendelssohn, and she herself was not only a talented piano player, but knew something on clothes and men, too, even if she was careful towards foreign musicians, because most of them drank and were ways to devoted to women. But Mendelssohn was a gentlemen  and when Mendelssohn performed at the Royal Palace, the three Mendelssohn, Albert and Victoria sang together, Victoria even in Italian, Goethe would have been much pleased and of course: Goethe is right. Mendelssohn said of his visit to the United Kingdom, „the only really nice, comfortable house in England… where one feels completely at home, is Buckingham Palace“. Of course, my Mendelssohn is right.

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