A statue has been re-erected in Düsseldorf of Felix Mendelssohn, to celebrate his tenure as the city’s music director (1833-1835). This follows a local fundraising campaign to raise 150,000 euros (£120,000) to restore a monument to celebrate the city’s musical hero. This replaces the original statue that was taken down by the Nazis in 1936 – because of the composer’s Jewish background – and then melted down in 1940 for scrap metal during World War II.
The restoration of the memorial was triggered by an exhibition in 2009, which celebrated Mendelssohn’s 200th birthday. A plaster model of the original statue still existed, as did various sketches. And the following year, the city’s Oberbürgermeister (Lord Mayor) Dirk Elbers began a campaign to raise the money needed to reconstruct a statue and plinth.
The town unveiled the new memorial yesterday, in a location near the opera house, as close as possible to its original position – with musicians performing from the nearby Robert Schumann High School. And last night the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra performed a special Mendelssohn programme, including his Italian Symphony No. 4, Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, and the Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 49.
‘The restoration of the memorial sees that Mendelssohn’s great musical achievement is again integrated into the image of the city,’ says Elbers.