Because Mendelssohn didn't flaff about in public, it's affected his image. The cliché is that he was a mindlessly happy airhead. Beneath the myth, though, the real Mendelssohn was complex and conflicted.
Here's an article about a man, Rick Jones, who dressed up as Mendelssohn and retraced his long hike through Scotland in the 1830's. It's funny but that's all the more reason why it's relevant. Surface isn't substance in Mendelssohn, nor in this quietly prescient article.
Mountain walkers know that being on your own for long periods forces you into your soul however you fill your immediate thoughts ("My feet hurt!"). Scottish mountains in Mendelssohn's youth were genuinely wild places, remote from civilization, a completely alien and quite dangerous world. There goes young Felix, leaving his wealthy German home, striding off into the unknown.
Jones has done his research and relates his own journey to what Mendelssohn wrote in his diaries. "The journeys that Felix and I made were life-changing events. The majesty of the Scottish wilderness, the hardship, the hunger, the friendship with Klingemann and the irrepressibility of nature seemed to open up in him a deep fount of melody. His future was sealed: a gap-year malaise made way for mature masterpieces. As for me, I’ve understood how deep an impression Scotland made on my favourite chorister composer and what it is like to wear jaw-length sideburns for a year"
Enjoy ! Click HERE for the full article in the Times.
Sorry I am late with Prom 10, but better slow than superficial.