Mendelssohn, Albert and Anglo-German connections in 19th century music

Meyn, N. (2019) Mendelssohn, Albert and Anglo-German connections in 19th century music. In: Two Centuries of Anglo-German Correspondences, 26-28 June 2019, London. (Unpublished)


Paper given at the international conference 'Two Centuries of Anglo-German Correspondences' held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in 2019. For this conference Norbert Meyn (tenor) and Christina Lawrie (piano) also recorded a selection of songs by Prince Albert and Felix Mendelssohn in the Royal College of Music Studios. Prince Albert was a pianist, organist, singer and composer of considerable ability who enjoyed almost daily music lessons in his native Coburg together with his brother Ernst, who later became an opera composer of note. Most of his over 40 compositions, most of them songs with piano accompaniment, were written during his student days in Bonn (where he had the support of the composer Heinrich Carl Breidenstein) and the early years of his life with Queen Victoria, who sang some of them during their courtship. Victoria had a beautiful, well trained voice and loved opera. Together they met, admired and supported many of the most important musicians of their time and brought music in Britain centre stage through their patronage of composers and performers, including Felix Mendelssohn, Charles Hallé, Jenny Lind and William Sterndale Bennett. They also commissioned and attended hundreds of concerts. Like those of Mendelssohn, who met and made music with the royal couple on many occasions, Albert's songs follow the aesthetic ideals of Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Carl Friedrich Zelter, who favoured simple compositions that lifted the text onto a higher plane like 'gas streaming into a balloon'. They are notable for their beautiful melodies and original use of harmony.

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