He made almost yearly tours to the Continent for concert-giving purposes, and kept his friendship with the great composers of the Continent green by personal contact. Beethoven was the god of his musical idolatry, and his pilgrimage to Vienna was always delightful to him. When Beethoven, in the early part of 1827, was in dire distress from poverty, just before his death, it was to Moscheles that he applied for assistance; and it was this generous friend who promptly arranged the concert with the Philharmonic Society by which one hundred pounds sterling was raised to alleviate the dying moments of the great man whom his own countrymen would have let starve, even as they had allowed Schubert and Mozart to suffer the direst want on their deathbeds.
An adequate record of Moscheles’s life during the twenty years of his London career would be a pretty full record of all matters of musical interest occurring during this time. In 1832 he was made one of the directors of the Philharmonic Society, and in 1837-’38 he conducted with signal success Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.” When Sir Henry Bishop resigned, in 1845, Moscheles was made the conductor, and thereafter wielded the baton over this orchestra, the noblest in England. Among the yearly pleasures to which our pianist looked forward with the greatest interest were the visits of Mendelssohn, between whom and Moscheles there was the most tender friendship. Whole pages of his diary are given up to an account of Mendelssohn’s doings, and to the most enthusiastic expression of his love and admiration for one of the greatest musical geniuses of modern times.
We can not attempt to follow up the placid and gentle current of Moscheles’s life, flowing on to ever-increasing honor and usefulness, but hasten to the period when he left England in 1846, to become associated with Mendelssohn in the conduct of the Leipzig Conservatorium, then recently organized. Mendelssohn lived but a few months after achieving this great monument of musical education, but Moscheles remained connected with it for nearly twenty years, and to his great zeal, knowledge, and executive skill is due in large measure the solid success of the institution. Mendelssohn’s early death, while yet in the very prime of creative genius, was a stunning blow to Moscheles; more so, perhaps, than would have occurred from the loss of any one except his beloved wife, the mother of his five children. Our musician died himself, in Leipzig, March 10, 1870, and his passage from this world was as serene and quiet as his passage through had been. He lived to see his daughters married to men of high worth and position, and his sons substantially placed in life. Perhaps few distinguished musicians have lived a life of such monotonous happiness, unmarked by those events which, while they give romantic interest to a career, make the gift at the expense of so much personal misery.