Mendelssohn and His World

Throughout the 1830s and 1840s the remarkably flexible composer-pianist-organist-conductor Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy stood on the leading edge of German and English musical lifestyles. Bringing jointly formerly unpublished essays via historians and musicologists, reflections on Mendelssohn written through his contemporaries, the composer's personal letters, and early severe reports of his song, this quantity explores numerous elements of Mendelssohn's track, his social and highbrow circles, and his profession. The essays partly I hide the character of a Jewish id in Mendelssohn's track (Leon Botstein); his courting to the Berlin Singakademie (William A. Little); the function of his sister Fanny Hensel, herself a baby prodigy and complete composer (Nancy Reich); Mendelssohn's compositional craft within the Italian Symphony and chosen live performance overtures (Claudio Spies); his oratorio Elijah (Martin Staehelin); his incidental tune to Sophocles' Antigone (Michael P. Steinberg); his anthem "Why, O Lord, hold up forever?" (David Brodbeck); and an unfinished piano sonata (R. Larry Todd). half II provides little-known memoirs by means of such contemporaries as J. C. Lobe, A. B. Marx, Julius Schubring, C. E. Horsley, Max Mller, and Betty Pistor. Mendelssohn's letters are represented partly III through his correspondence with Wilhelm von Boguslawski and Aloys Fuchs, the following translated for the 1st time. half IV includes overdue nineteenth-century serious reports by way of Heinrich Heine, Franz Brendel, Friedrich Niecks, Otto Jahn, and Hans von Blow.

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Throughout the 1830s and 1840s the remarkably flexible composer-pianist-organist-conductor Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy stood on the leading edge of German and English musical lifestyles. Bringing jointly formerly unpublished essays via historians and musicologists, reflections on Mendelssohn written through his contemporaries, the composer's personal letters, and early severe reports of his song, this quantity explores numerous elements of Mendelssohn's track, his social and highbrow circles, and his profession. The essays partly I hide the character of a Jewish id in Mendelssohn's track (Leon Botstein); his courting to the Berlin Singakademie (William A. Little); the function of his sister Fanny Hensel, herself a baby prodigy and complete composer (Nancy Reich); Mendelssohn's compositional craft within the Italian Symphony and chosen live performance overtures (Claudio Spies); his oratorio Elijah (Martin Staehelin); his incidental tune to Sophocles' Antigone (Michael P. Steinberg); his anthem "Why, O Lord, hold up forever?" (David Brodbeck); and an unfinished piano sonata (R. Larry Todd). half II provides little-known memoirs by means of such contemporaries as J. C. Lobe, A. B. Marx, Julius Schubring, C. E. Horsley, Max Mller, and Betty Pistor. Mendelssohn's letters are represented partly III through his correspondence with Wilhelm von Boguslawski and Aloys Fuchs, the following translated for the 1st time. half IV includes overdue nineteenth-century serious reports by way of Heinrich Heine, Franz Brendel, Friedrich Niecks, Otto Jahn, and Hans von Blow.

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49 It was precisely this paradox, perceived by Mendelssohn, about how alluring theatrical spectacles and the higher purposes of art could be reconciled on the operatic stage that Wagner took upon himself to solve. T h e theater could transcend the role of providing mere fantasy and entertainment and become a moral, emotional, and political force. Mendelssohn's ambition to achieve in music more than personal success and originality—which he termed the "depressing, flighty and evanescent" aspects of musical life—and to further a humanistic cause was expressed in a letter to his brother Paul in 1837: "So little remains after performances and festivals, and of all which surrounds the personality; people certainly shout and applaud, but it disappears again so quickly, without any trace; and still it absorbs as much o f life and strength as the better aims, if not more.

Any evaluation of Mendelssohn's music must take this conception into account. T h e application of Wagnerian, Brahmsian, Schumannesque, or, for that matter, Beethovenian models to Mendelssohn's music is inappropriate in that it fails to confront Mendelssohn's explicit objective: the stimulation of subjective emotions with precise and universal meaning. And this lack of a proper understanding of Mendelssohn's intentions—even among contemporaries— should not justify aesthetic expectations that condemn the music as lacking in dramatic depth and as being merely refined.

It can help to illuminate the origins and significance of the way the Parsifal-Amfortas dynamic unfolds and is resolved in Parsifal. In Parsifal the music at the end of Act 1 is decidedly Mendelssohnian in both thematic material and orchestration. T h e drama reflects the autobiographical. Wagner (Parsifal) is inspired to undertake the redemptive agenda through art on behalf o f the community by curing sickness and restoring purity. It is indeed ironic that at the end of his life Wagner, in Parsifal, not only extended musical language but brilliantly demonstrated his own mastery of the Mendelssohnian musical rhetoric of St.

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