From "Mendelssohn: The Greatest Jewish Composer?" (Jewish Standard, 10/23/2009)
He was quite the prodigy!
The poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who met both [Mendelssohn and Mozart], said that Mendelssohn bore “the same relation to the little Mozart that the perfect speech of a grown man does to prattle of a child.”
By age 15, Mendelssohn had written 12 string symphonies, four concerti, a violin sonata, three piano quartets, several small piano sonatas, four musical works for the stage, and an array of songs and choral pieces. By his late teens, he had learned English and French and was able to translate from Greek, Latin and Italian. He was a painter, a gymnast, a swimmer, a horseman, a dancer and a chess player.
At age 17, he wrote the enchanting overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The New Yorker magazine’s Alex Ross has written: “That it came from a boy of 17 essentially defies explanation."
We have Lea Mendelssohn-Bartholdy to thank for Mendelssohn's musical upbringing!