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Back in Time

Mendelssohn House

One of the most impressive activities we did in Leipzig was visiting Mendelssohn House (Mendelssohn-Haus). It definitely wasn’t the typical museum one’s used to. The house-museum is arranged in a way that people can see different rooms while also reading or listening to facts about Felix’s life. Our tour was completely in German but the tour guide spoke so slowly and clearly that we understood almost everything despite our language level. Great way of practicing German and learning new information too!

Felix Mendelssohn was a composer and a conductor of the early romantic period. He was asked to conduct in Leipzig Gewandhaus and was also appointed music director of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. It’s because of him that we’re now familiar with famous masterpieces from Bach and other composers whose work would otherwise fade into oblivion. In Leipzig he founded the first Conservatory of Music, where he would also occasionally teach.

The last floor was dedicated to Felix‘ sister, Fanny. Little did we know that she was a great composer too. Despite her well-known talent, she only had a chance to publish her work under her name at 40. Since Fanny was a woman from a rich family, she could not pursue a career of her own. Music could only be an ornament to her. Nevertheless, she kept composing and her brother helped her publish some works under his name. The only support she ever had was of her husband. The painter Wilhelm Hensel loved her deeply and understood how important music was to her. Unfortunately she didn’t live long enough to fulfill her dream. She died at 41, still at the beginning of her journey. This was thought to have had an impact on Felix too, who died 6 months later. On Fanny’s floor, there was also a room where the walls were painted in a way that depicted the gatherings once organized there. It really seemed like we were actual participants. There were also a bunch of old clothes that visitors could try and take pictures with. After scanning their respective codes, they could get the pictures from the website.

Female student with friends in front of a painted wall
Female student with friends in front of a painted wall© Sindi

But it wasn’t just that! Another room on the first floor, called Effektorium, was built to give visitors a chance to experience conducting an orchestra. They could choose the instruments and the music piece they wanted to play and also change the room’s lighting and the visual effects. The motion sensors would respond to the baton’s movements, which in turn sped up or slowed down the instruments. It was genuinely designed for amateurs so no one would have a hard time doing it. I’m leaving for everyone interested in checking it out.

I have been in many areas of Leipzig this year and I have visited many places including museums. This one was definitely something I would highly suggest to anyone who passes by the city of music.

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