Did Jenny Lind have an affair with Felix Mendelssohn?

Was it an affair with Jenny Lind that drove the composer to suicide?

Felix Mendelssohn

In 2009, stories began to appear in the press about an intense relationship between Jenny Lind and Felix Mendelssohn, evidence for which had been deliberately destroyed by her widower, Otto Goldschmidt following her death. What evidence has survived has been explored by George Biddlecombe who published his findings in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association.

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Documents relating to the relationship exist at the Royal Academy of Music as part of the holdings of the Mendelssohn Scholarship Foundation. Papers given by members of the Foundation’s Committee in 1980 record that at a dinner at Claridge’s in 1947 it was revealed that a memorandum had formerly existed stating that following Lind’s death a number of passionate love letters from Mendelssohn were discovered ‘in which over and over again he begged her to elope with him and threatened to take his own life unless she did so.’ The letters were burned in 1887. The memorandum went on to suggest that Mendelssohn had, in fact, gone on to commit suicide.

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Examining this (and related) evidence with considerable acumen, Biddlecombe concluded that the first parts of the claim could well be true, but that the possibility of the composer’s suicide was much less certain.