In the Key of ‘D’anzmayr: Strange Bedfellows
At one time, Felix Mendelssohn and Richard Wagner were friends – kind of in an Odd Couple sort of way. Wagner would complain about someone’s conducting, Mendelssohn would think it was great. No word on who was the neat one and who was the slob. I shall keep my opinion to myself.
Some say Mendelssohn was regarded by many music historians as second rate…an attitude fostered, in part, by a vindictive, or possibly jealous, Wagner. Writing in The Guardian, Tom Service said,
“In 1836, the 23-year-old Wagner sent Mendelssohn – only four years older but already a towering figure – a copy of his C major Symphony. Mendelssohn never replied.”
It is said Mendelssohn found little to like in Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. The composer of the Ring Cycle would eventually write a nasty essay in which he spent a great deal of time telling readers why Mendelssohn was incapable of writing music which stirred the soul. It is amazing they were able to even be in the same room, much less have any kind of relationship.
In today’s conversation, David Danzmayr talks about the man whom he credits with creating the position of ‘professional conductor.’
Mendelssohn and Wagner share space yet today. Below are Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and Wagner’s Bridal Chorus, heard in marriage ceremonies the world over.