Sir, – Thank you for Derek Scally’s atmospheric piece on Felix Mendelssohn and his house (An Irishman’s Diary, November 20th).
There is a small Irish connection to the house.
In mid-January 1847, Mendelssohn entertained two Irish visitors for dinner, one being 12-year-old Arthur O’Leary from Tralee, who had just arrived from Ireland to start as a student in the Leipzig conservatorium, and the other, his guardian Wyndham Goold (related to the Dunraven family). O’Leary was taught how to clink glasses “German style” by Mendelssohn.
On the journey to Leipzig, Goold had, on registering at the hotel in Malines, playfully entered his charge’s occupation as “Big drummer to the Emperor of Morocco”!
The week after dining with Mendelssohn, they were invited to the house of Isaac Ignaz Moscheles, the Bohemian piano virtuoso and composer, where they heard Mendelssohn accompany Joseph Joachim in Mendelssohn’s violin concerto.
After the death of Mendelssohn on November 4th, 1847, the pupils of the conservatorium escorted the coffin to the Pauliner Kirche, but there was a huge surge to get into the church and when the procession left the church O’Leary found himself immediately behind the coffin.
O’Leary recalled a few other memories of Mendelssohn in his memoir Student Life in Germany, which he published privately in 1913. – Yours, etc,