Felix Mendelssohn was the grandson of the Enlightenment philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and son of an influential German banker. Born into a privileged, upper middle-class family, as a boy he was encouraged to study the piano, taught to draw by his mother and became an accomplished linguist and classical scholar. In 1819 he began composition studies with Karl Friedrich Zelter. His family’s wealth allowed their home in Berlin to become a refuge for scholars, artists, writers and musicians. The philosopher Hegel and scientist Humboldt were among regular visitors, and members of the Court Orchestra and eminent soloists were available to perform the latest works by Felix or his older sister Fanny. Young Mendelssohn’s twelve string symphonies were first heard in the intimate setting of his father’s salon.