Felix Mendelssohn: 200 Years
In 2009, the 200th anniversary of Mendelssohn's birth, the Leipzig Mendelssohn Award of the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Foundation was conferred for the third consecutive year on individuals who, in Mendelssohn's spirit, have made an outstanding contribution in the areas of creative diversity, enlightened thinking and cosmopolitan action.
On the evening before Felix Mendelssohn's 200th birthday, the Leipzig Mendelssohn Award was presented to former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in the category "social commitment," Armin Mueller-Stahl in the category "visual arts" and Gewandhaus Music Director Riccardo Chailly in the category "music." Speakers Justus Frantz, Geraldine Chaplin and Ornella Muti paid tribute to the awardees during a gala dinner in the Leipzig Gewandhaus on 2 February. Burkhard Jung, Mayor of Leipzig and Chairman of the Executive Board of the Foundation, presented the awards before the dinner, at a gala concert hosted by Sandra Maischberger. The concert featured the Gewandhaus Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly, with Lang Lang as soloist.
On the evening of Felix Mendelssohn's 200th birthday, the Gewandhaus Orchestra played an all-Mendelssohn programme. St. Thomas's Church is also paying tribute to the great musician and composer with concerts, motets and worship services honouring the "architect" of Leipzig, the City of Music. To commemorate the anniversary, the west portal of St. Thomas's Church has been renamed the "Mendelssohn Portal." Finally, the Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig (Leipzig Municipal Historical Museum) celebrated the opening of a special exhibition "The Leipzig Mendelssohn" on 3 February.
The Mendelssohn House on Goldschmidtstrasse also received a surprise visit on the composer's birthday – pianist Lang Lang toured Mendelssohn's former residence before appearing that evening as a soloist with the Gewandhaus Orchestra.