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Music Felix Mendelssohn
by
R. Larry Todd

Introduction

Of Western classical composers, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (b.1809–d. 1847) has occupied a most unusual position. Likened early on to Mozart, he was an extraordinary prodigy who quickly achieved international fame in Europe and England, and rose to preeminence in the 1830s and 1840s as a composer, pianist, organist, and conductor of the first rank. He revived the St. Matthew Passion of J. S. Bach in 1829, a signal event that launched the modern Bach revival, and was the moving force behind the founding of the Leipzig Conservatory in 1843. An accomplished violinist, Mendelssohn also edited the music of Bach and Handel, and researched music of the Renaissance and 17th centuries. He spoke or read German, French, English, Latin, and Greek, developed a distinctive literary style in his extensive correspondence, studied philosophy with Hegel, and was an accomplished draughtsman and painter. Nevertheless, the positive, meteoric trajectory of Mendelssohn’s career contrasted sharply with his posthumous reception. At mid-century Wagner attacked his memory in a notorious, racist essay (baptized as a Protestant at age seven, Mendelssohn was the grandson of the 18th-century Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn). Mendelssohn’s identification with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert—the composer visited England ten times between 1829 and 1847—made him an easy mark for late-19th- and 20th-century critiques of Victorian culture. In the 1930s, the Nazis destroyed his statue in Leipzig and banned his music. The composer of the oratorio Elijah, performed at every Birmingham Musical Festival from 1846 until the outbreak of the First World War, and the composer of the Italian Symphony and Violin Concerto in E minor, works once regarded as flawless, was now dismissed as an overly sentimental composer whose music did not challenge the profundity of Bach, Beethoven, or Wagner. Efforts to rehabilitate Mendelssohn’s image began in the second half of the 20th century, and now, with the bicentenary of 2009, are in full force. Modern scholarship recognizes the composer’s remarkable versatility, and the critical roles he played as a civic-minded educator whose distinctive music made a rapprochement between classicism and romanticism and related in compelling ways the culture of his times to the musical past.

Collected Editions

There is still no complete edition of Mendelssohn’s music, although the first, woefully incomplete attempt, the Breitkopf & Härtel edition of the 1870s (Rietz 1874–1877), is finally being replaced by the new Leipziger Ausgabe, scheduled for completion in 2047, the bicentenary of the composer’s death. In Mendelssohn Bartholdy 2009 is the complete sacred works in practical study scores based on the primary sources.

  • Internationale Felix-Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft, ed. Leipziger Ausgabe der Werke von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys. Leipzig: Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1960–1977, 1997–.

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    The first attempt at a definitive, comprehensive Mendelssohn edition, begun in East Germany in 1960. Work on the edition ceased in 1977, and, after the reunification of Germany, resumed in 1997 during the Mendelssohn sesquicentenary. Some thirty volumes have appeared, including the first full catalogue of Mendelssohn’s music (see Catalogues and Bibliographies) Continuation edition: Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1997–.

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  • Rietz, Julius, ed. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s Werke: kritisch durchgesehene Ausgabe. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1874–1877.

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    The first “collected” edition of Mendelssohn’s music, edited by the cellist/conductor Julius Rietz, a colleague of the composer. Omitted from the edition were a significant number of juvenilia and student works, and alternate versions of mature works.

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  • Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Felix. Geistliche Musik für Chor und Orchester. 22 vols. Stuttgart: Carus Verlag, 2009.

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    Urtext editions of the complete sacred music, released in twenty-two convenient study score volumes.

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Catalogues and Bibliographies

A comprehensive bibliography and essential starting point for anyone interested in Mendelssohn is Cooper and Mace 2010. For a thematic catalogue, the critical source is the monumental Wehner 2009. Crum 1980, Crum 1983, and Ward Jones 1989 describe the extensive Mendelssohn holdings of the Bodleian Library. Klein 2004 summarizes the holdings of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, while Ward Jones 1985 examines and reconstructs in detail the composer’s own library of musical and nonmusical items.

Exhibitions

Mendelssohn’s autographs are dispersed worldwide, although large collections are preserved in major libraries, including the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and Bodleian Library in Oxford, The Pierpont Morgan Library and New York Public Library in New York, and The Library of Congress. This section lists representative publications from various Mendelssohn exhibitions held since the 1980s. Three focus on various aspects of the Mendelssohn family—their life in Berlin (Elvers and Klein 1983), the composer’s complex relationship with his sister Fanny Hensel (Klein 1997), and the family’s travels in Italy (Klein 2002). Two other publications (Ward Jones 1997 and Schmidt-Hensel 2009) resulted from exhibitions in Berlin and Oxford during the 1997 and 2009 anniversary years.

  • Elvers, Rudolf, and Hans-Günter Klein, eds. Die Mendelssohns in Berlin: Eine Familie und ihre Stadt. Berlin: Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, 1983.

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    For an exhibition about the Mendelssohn family and its ties to Berlin, held at the Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz in 1983. Includes essays by Hans-Günter Klein, Rudolf Elvers, Joachim von Elbe, Cécile Lowenthal-Hensel, Sabine Lepsius, and Felix Gilbert.

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  • Klein, Hans-Günter. Das verborgene Band: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy und seine Schwester Fanny Hensel. Wiesbaden, Germany: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1997.

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    Fully illustrated and annotated catalogue of an exhibition, held at the Berlin Staatsbibliothek in 1997, about Mendelssohn’s relationship with his sister Fanny Hensel.

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  • Klein, Hans-Günter. Die Mendelssohns in Italien. Wiesbaden, Germany: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 2002.

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    A well-illustrated and thoroughly annotated catalogue of an exhibition, held at the Berlin Staatsbibliothek in 2003, about the Mendelssohns’ visits to Italy. Includes several full-color reproductions.

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  • Schmidt-Hensel, Roland Dieter, ed. Felix: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy zum 200. Geburtstag. Stuttgart: Carus Verlag, 2009.

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    A liberally illustrated celebration of Mendelssohn’s life and music to accompany an exhibition during the 2009 bicentenary at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, drawing on its rich holdings of Mendelssohniana.

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  • Ward Jones, Peter. Mendelssohn: An Exhibition to Celebrate the Life of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847). Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1997.

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    A catalogue prepared for a Mendelssohn exhibition at the Bodleian Library during the sesquicentenary year, 1997.

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Collections of Essays

Included in this section are publications since the 1970s resulting from symposia and conferences, special issues devoted to Mendelssohn, and the journal Mendelssohn Studien, all representative of post–World War II scholarship.

Special Journal Issues

Three American journals have devoted specific issues to Mendelssohn: the Choral Journal to the sacred music, the Musical Quarterly to cultural and gender issues in the composer’s family, and the Journal of Musicological Research to essays on various topics written in tribute to Peter Ward Jones.

  • Mendelssohn’s 200th Anniversary. Focus Issue I and II. Choral Journal 49 (March and April 2009).

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    Six essays by Jeffrey Sposato, Siegwart Reichwald, R. Larry Todd and Angela R. Mace, Marian Wilson Kimber, Douglass Seaton, and John Michael Cooper on Mendelssohn’s choral music and on his use of the “free” chorale.

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  • Cooper, John Michael, and R. Larry Todd, eds. Special Issue: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Essays in Honor of Peter Ward Jones. Journal of Musicological Research 29.2–3 (2010).

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    A special Mendelssohn issue in honor of the retirement of Peter Ward Jones from the Bodleian Library. Includes five essays by Monika Hennemann, Marian Wilson Kimber, Wm. A. Little, Douglass Seaton, and John Michael Cooper and R. Larry Todd.

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  • Musical Quarterly 77 (1993).

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    A special issue containing “Culture, Gender and Music: A Forum on the Mendelssohn Family,” with articles by Michael Steinberg, Peter Wollny, Sarah Rothenberg, David Warren Sabean, Michael Marissen, and John E. Toews.

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    Conference Proceedings

    Several international conferences have produced substantial volumes of essays devoted to Mendelssohn: Botstein 1996, Dahlhaus 1974, Hartinger 2007, and Seidel 2004 from conferences in Leipzig and Berlin, and Cooper and Prandi 2002 and Finson 1984 from conferences in Illinois and North Carolina.

    • Botstein, Leon, ed. Felix Mendelssohn—Mitwelt und Nachwelt: Bericht zum 1. Leipziger Mendelssohn-Kolloquium am 8. und 9. Juni 1993. Wiesbaden, Germany: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1996.

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      Proceedings from the first Leipzig Mendelssohn Colloquium. Contributors include Hans Mayer, Fred Grubel, Ines Reich, Hans-Ulrich Thamer, Marianne Meyer-Krahmer, Joachim Martini, Peter Pachnicke, Hans-Joachim Schulze, Michael Steinberg, Gerd Schönfelder, Alexander Ringer, Leon Botstein, Eike Middell, Peter Gülke, Siegfried Thiele, and Christian-Martin Schmidt.

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    • Cooper, John Michael, and Julie D. Prandi, eds. The Mendelssohns: Their Music in History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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      Seventeen essays by Ralf Wehner, Pietro Zappalà, John Michael Cooper, Peter Ward Jones, Wolfgang Dinglinger, Julie D. Prandi, Thomas Schmidt-Beste, Christoph Hellmundt, Monika Hennemann, Douglass Seaton, Hans-Günter Klein, R. Larry Todd, Camilla Cai, Françoise Tillard, Wm. A. Little, Friedhelm Krummacher, and Marian Wilson Kimber, originally presented at a 1997 international conference at Illinois Wesleyan University. Organized into five parts: sources and source problems, individual works, repertories, Felix and Fanny, and reception history.

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    • Dahlhaus, Carl, ed. Das Problem Mendelssohn. Regensburg, Germany: Gustav Bosse, 1974.

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      Fifteen essays exploring the idea of a “Mendelssohn Problem” in music history. Contributors include Friedhelm Kemp, Norbert Miller, Rudolf Elvers, Carl Dahlhaus, Arno Forchert, Lars Ulrich Abraham, Friedhelm Krummacher, Martin Witte, Mathias Thomas, Reinhard Gerlach, Susanna Großmann-Vendrey, Karl Gustav Fellerer, and Rudolf Stephan, originally presented at a Berlin conference in 1972.

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    • Finson, Jon W., and R. Larry Todd, eds. Mendelssohn and Schumann: Essays on Their Music and Its Context. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1984.

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      Ten essays, from an international conference at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, organized into four parts: contemporary criticism, compositional process, contextual studies, and literary influences. Contributors include Leon Plantinga, Jurgen Thym, Rufus Hallmark, Linda Correll Roesner, Friedhelm Krummacher, William S. Newman, Marcia J. Citron, Ralph P. Locke, Jon W. Finson, and R. Larry Todd.

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    • Hartinger, Anselm, Christoph Wolff, and Peter Wollny, eds. “Zu groß, zu unerreichbar”: Bach-Rezeption im Zeitalter Mendelssohns und Schumanns. Wiesbaden, Germany: Breitkopf & Härtel, 2007.

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      Proceedings from an international conference in Leipzig in 2005 about Bach reception during the time of Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann. The volume includes Mendelssohn-related contributions by Janina Klassen, R. Larry Todd, Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen, Wilhelm Seidel, Wolfgang Dinglinger, Lothar Schmidt, John Michael Cooper, Stefan Keym, Claire Fontijn, Anselm Hartinger, Peter Ward Jones, Karen Lehmann, Wm. A. Little, Stephen Roe, Rudolf Elvers, and Ralf Wehner.

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    • Schmidt, Christian Martin, ed. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Kongreß-Bericht Berlin 1994. Wiesbaden, Germany: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1997.

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      Fifteen essays presented at an international conference in Berlin in 1994. Contributors include Rudolf Stephan, Rudolf Elvers, Wolfgang Dinglinger, Ralf Wehner, Peter Ward Jones, Christoph Hellmundt, R. Larry Todd, Peter Andraschke, Douglass Seaton, Ulrich Wüster, Rainer Cadenbach, Wolfram Steinbeck, James Webster, Friedhelm Krummacher, and Ralf Wehner.

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    • Seidel, Wilhelm, ed. Dem Stolz und der Zierde unserer Stadt: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy und Leipzig. Leipzig: Edition Peters, 2004.

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      Proceedings from an international conference held in Leipzig in 1997. Twenty-one essays by Wilhelm Seidel, Leon Botstein, Wolfgang Gersthofer, Peter Wollny, Albrecht Riethmüller, Johannes Forner, Karl-Heinz Köhler, Renate Herklotz, Ulrich Leisinger, Ralf Wehner, Thomas Schmidt-Beste, Christian Martin Schmidt, John Deathridge, Hellmut Flashar, Christa Jost, Martin Wehnert, Friedhelm Krummacher, Wolfgang Dinglinger, R. Larry Todd, Klaus Wolfgang Niemöller, and Ludwig Finscher.

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    General Collections

    Six additional volumes of Mendelssohn essays, and the journal Mendelssohn Studien (published by the Mendelssohn Gesellschaft of Berlin), a rich source of detailed biographical studies of the composer and of many other members of the family, typically based on little-known or unpublished primary source material. While Mercer-Taylor 2004 and Seaton 2001 attempt to cover the totality of Mendelssohn’s oeuvre, Metzger and Riehn 1980, Todd 2006 and Todd 2008 offer more specialized studies. Todd 1991 was released as the companion volume for the Bard Music Festival of 1991, devoted to Mendelssohn and his contemporaries.

    • Mendelssohn Studien: Beiträge zur neueren deutschen Kultur- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1972–2005; Hanover: Wehrhahn Verlag, 2007–.

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      The official journal of the Berlin Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft; sixteen volumes published as of 2010 (vols. 1–2 ed. Cécile Lowenthal-Hensel; vols. 3–7 ed. Cécile Lowenthal-Hensel and Rudolf Elvers; vol. 8 ed. Rudolf Elvers; vols. 9–13 ed. Rudolf Elvers and Hans-Günter Klein; vols. 14–16 ed. Hans-Günter Klein and Christoph Schulte). Published by Duncker & Humblot from 1972–2005 and by Wehrhahn Verlag from 2007 onward.

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      • Mercer-Taylor, Peter. The Cambridge Companion to Mendelssohn. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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        Fourteen essays by Peter-Mercer Taylor, Michael P. Steinberg, James Garratt, Greg Vitercik, Douglass Seaton, Steve Lindeman, Thomas Schmidt-Beste, Glenn Stanley, R. Larry Todd, Susan Youens, Monika Hennemann, John Michael Cooper, and Leon Botstein, divided into four parts: issues in biography, situating the compositions, profiles of the music, and reception and performance.

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      • Metzger, Heinz-Klaus, and Rainer Riehn, eds. Felix Mendelssohn. Munich: Edition Text + Kritik, 1980.

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        Eight German essays by Wulf Konold, Hans Mayer, Gerd Zacher, Friedhelm Krummacher, Richard Hauser, Heinz-Klaus Metzger, and Rainer Riehn. The volume also includes a critical edition of Robert Schumann’s memoirs of Mendelssohn.

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      • Seaton, Douglass, ed. The Mendelssohn Companion. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001.

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        Twelve essays by Leon Botstein, Marian Wilson Kimber, Donald Mintz, Douglass Seaton, Georg Feder, Friedhelm Krummacher, Thomas Grey, R. Larry Todd, Robert Man, and John Michael Cooper. Interpolated between the essays are selections of historical views and documents.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. Mendelssohn Essays. New York: Routledge, 2008.

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        A selection of fifteen essays written between 1980 and 2005, of which five are published for the first time. The volume is divided into four sections: reception, style and influence, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and compositional process.

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      • Todd, R. Larry, ed. Mendelssohn and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

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        This volume includes essays by Leon Botstein, David Brodbeck, Wm. A. Little, Nancy R. Reich, Claudio Spies, Martin Staehelin, Michael P. Steinberg, and R. Larry Todd; and little-known 19th-century writings by of J. C. Lobe, A. B. Marx, Julius Schubring, C. E. Horsley, Ernst Rudorff, Aloys Fuchs, Wilhelm von Boguslawski, Franz Brendel, Heinrich Heine, Otto Jahn, Friedrich Niecks, and Hans von Bülow.

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      • Todd, R. Larry, ed. Mendelssohn Studies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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        Ten essays by David Brodbeck, Christa Jost, Lawrence Kramer, Friedhelm Krummacher, Wm. A. Little, Donald Mintz, Judith Silber Ballan, R. Larry Todd, J. Rigbie Turner, and Peter Ward Jones. Originally published 1992.

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      Iconographies

      As an international celebrity, Mendelssohn was a frequent subject of portraitists, and even attracted the interest of a London phrenologist, who made a cast of his skull in order to compare it to those of other prominent figures. Wasserman 2008 is a first attempt at a systematic Mendelssohn iconography; Klein 2004 reproduces significant portraits of several generations of the Mendelssohns.

      • Klein, Hans-Günter. Die Mendelssohns im Bildnis: Porträts aus der ersten bis vierten Generation. Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 2004.

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        Portraits of the Mendelssohn family (full-color paintings, drawings, and photographs) from Moses Mendelssohn to the fourth generation. Brief biographical sketches provided.

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      • Wasserman, Janet I. “Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy & Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Portrait Iconographies.” Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography 33 (2008): 317–371.

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        An iconography of 160 portraits by 19th- and 20th-century artists produced between 1813 and 2008.

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      Letters

      Mendelssohn’s letters number in the thousands, and are supplemented by extensive diaries and other primary source materials. Publications of the letters began appearing in the nineteenth century, though often in edited and unreliable forms. The definitive new source for the letters is the Sämtliche Briefe (see Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Editions) being released in twelve chronological volumes, of which the first three (1816–1834) have recently appeared.

      Nineteenth-Century Editions

      Until the completion of the Sämtliche Briefe (see Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Editions), scholars will still have to rely upon a number of 19th-century editions of the letters, which should be checked against the originals for editorial omissions and redactions. Mendelssohn Bartholdy 1862, Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Mendelssohn Bartholdy 1868, and Hensel 1969 were prepared by the composer’s brother and nephew, while Hiller 1972, Moscheles 1888, and Schubring 1973 contain Mendelssohn’s correspondence to three of his closest friends.

      • Hensel, Sebastian, ed. The Mendelssohn Family (1729–1847) from Letters and Journals. Translated by Carl Klingemann Jr. New York: Haskell House, 1969.

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        Still an invaluable source of information about Mendelssohn, Die Familie Mendelssohn ran to many editions in the 19th and 20th centuries. It offers a biographical account of Moses Mendelssohn and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and his family, based upon letters (sometimes edited), diaries, and other documents. Prepared by the composer’s nephew Sebastian Hensel, the publication tends to idealize Mendelssohn as an upstanding German citizen and Victorian gentleman. Originally published as Die Familie Mendelssohn (1729–1847) nach Briefen und Tagebüchern (3 vols., Berlin: Behr, 1879). First published in English in 1881 (New York: Harper).

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      • Hiller, Ferdinand. Mendelssohn: Letters and Recollections. Translated by M. E. von Glehn and edited by Joel Sachs. New York: Vienna House, 1972.

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        The English translation of Ferdinand Hiller’s memoirs of Mendelssohn, also published in a German edition (Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Briefe und Erinnerungen. Cologne: Verlag von M. DuMont-Schauberg’schen Buchhandlung, 1874), and containing the bulk of their correspondence. The 1972 reprint has a useful introduction by Joel Sachs, and also identifies (on pp. xix–xxi) names deliberately omitted by Hiller. Originally translated 1874 (London: Macmillan’s).

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      • Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Paul, ed. Letters from Italy and Switzerland by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Translated by Lady [Grace Stein Don] Wallace. Boston: O. Ditson, 1862.

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        Assembled by the composer’s brother, Paul, the Reisebriefe contain Mendelssohn’s letters from his grand tour of 1830–1832, when he visited Bavaria, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and England. Originally published as Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Reisebriefe aus den Jahren 1830 bis 1832 (Leipzig: Hermann Mendelssohn, 1861).

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      • Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Paul, and Carl Mendelssohn Bartholdy, eds. Letters of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy from 1833 to 1847. Translated by Lady [Grace Stein Don] Wallace. London: Longman, Roberts & Green, 1868.

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        A companion volume to the Reisebriefe that offers a sizeable selection of Mendelssohn’s correspondence from 1833 until 1847. Originally published as Briefe aus den Jahren 1833 bis 1847 von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Leipzig: Hermann Mendelssohn, 1863).

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      • Moscheles, Felix, ed. Letters of Felix Mendelssohn to Ignaz and Charlotte Moscheles. Translated by Karl Klingemann Jr. London: Trübner, 1888.

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        Mendelssohn’s correspondence with the pianist/composer Ignaz Moscheles, who gave the young Mendelssohn finishing lessons at the keyboard and became a member of his intimate circle. Originally published as Briefe von Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy an Ignaz und Charlotte Moscheles (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1888).

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      • Schubring, Julius Jr. Briefwechsel zwischen Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy und Julius Schubring, zugleich ein Beitrag zur Geschichte und Theorie des Oratoriums. Wiesbaden, Germany: Martin Sändig, 1973.

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        Mendelssohn’s correspondence with the pastor Julius Schubring (b.1806–d.1889), who collaborated with the composer and advised him on the libretti of his oratorios St. Paul and Elijah. Originally published 1892 (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot).

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      Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Editions

      For Mendelssohn’s early correspondence (up to 1832) scholars may now turn to the Sämtliche Briefe (Mendelssohn 2008–). Other sizeable and reliable editions include Klingemann 1909, Mendelssohn Bartholdy 1972 and Mendelssohn Bartholdy 1986, Schumann and Schumann 2009, and the Briefe an deutsche Verleger (Elvers 1986). Mendelssohn and Mendelssohn 1997 affords a detailed view of the composer’s relationship with his sister, Fanny Hensel, while Evans, et al. 2001 introduces a Welsh collection of unpublished documents.

      • Evans, David R. A., Judith E. Olson, and R. Larry Todd. “A Welsh Collection of Mendelssohniana: Letters at Aberystwyth.” Current Musicology 65 (2001): 116–140.

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        A little-known collection of sixteen autograph letters and other documents in German and French at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.

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      • Klingemann, Karl, Jr., ed. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys Briefwechsel mit Legationsrat Karl Klingemann in London. Essen, Germany: G. D. Baedeker, 1909.

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        The correspondence of Mendelssohn and Karl Klingemann (b. 1798– d. 1862), one of the composer’s closest friends, who served in London as a diplomat for the Hanoverian legation.

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      • Mendelssohn, Fanny, and Felix Mendelssohn. Die Musik will gar nicht rutschen ohne Dich: Briefwechsel 1821 bis 1846. Edited by Eva Weissweiler. Berlin: Propyläen Verlag, 1997.

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        An annotated edition of the correspondence between the composer and his sister, Fanny Hensel.

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      • Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Felix. Briefe an deutsche Verleger. Edited by Rudolf Elvers. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1968.

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        A critical, annotated edition of Mendelssohn’s letters to German publishers, spanning 431 items from 1827 to 1847, the majority of which were addressed to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig and N. Simrock in Bonn.

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      • Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Felix. Briefe aus Leipziger Archiven. Edited by Hans-Joachim Rothe and Reinhard Szeskus. Leipzig: VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1972.

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        An edition of 146 letters from 1826 to 1847 preserved in autographs in Leipzig archives.

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      • Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Felix. Felix Mendelssohn: A Life in Letters. Edited by Rudolf Elvers and translated by Craig Tomlinson. New York: Fromm International, 1986.

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        A selection of letters from 1820 to 1847, including many previously unpublished. Originally published as Briefe (Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch, 1984).

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      • Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Felix. Sämtliche Briefe. Edited by Helmut Loos and Wilhelm Seidel. Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter Verlag, 2008–.

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        The first comprehensive edition of Mendelssohn’s letters, planned in twelve volumes. Published to date are Band 1 (1816–1830), ed. Juliette Appold and Regina Back; Band 2 (1830–1832), ed. Anja Morgenstern and Uta Wald; Band 3 (1832–1834), ed. Uta Wald. Each letter is thoroughly annotated, and each volume includes references to letters now lost but which can be inferred from documentary evidence.

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      • Schumann, Robert, and Clara Schumann. Robert und Clara Schumann in Briefwechsel mit der Familie Mendelssohn. Edited by Kristin R. M. Krahe, Katrin Reyersbach, and Thomas Synofzik. Cologne: Christoph Dohr, 2009.

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        Meticulously documented edition of the Schumanns’ correspondence with the Mendelssohns, including principally the composer and his wife; Fanny Hensel; and the composer’s brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Albertine Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

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      Diaries

      Mendelssohn’s diaries, and those of his elder sister, Fanny Hensel, document in detail and often on a daily basis the frenetic pace of his life and career. Significant recent publications include Hensel’s diaries (Hensel 2002), the composer’s honeymoon diary (Ward Jones 1997), and one of his pocket diaries and calendars (Zappalà 2002 and Klein 2009).

      • Hensel, Fanny. Tagebücher. Edited by Hans-Günter Klein and Rudolf Elvers. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 2002.

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        A critical edition with full annotations of Fanny Hensel’s diaries, which she kept with some gaps between 1829 and 1847. An important new source of information about her relationship with her brother.

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      • Klein, Hans-Günter, and Peter Ward Jones, eds. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Eintragungen in den “Schreibkalendern” 1837 und 1837. Hanover: Wehrhahn Verlag, 2009.

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        In 1836 and 1837 Mendelssohn maintained a Schreibkalender in which he entered significant events in his life. The period coincides with his engagement and wedding to Cécile Jeanrenaud, the premiere of the oratorio Paulus (St. Paul) in Düsseldorf, and his early activities as director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig.

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      • Ward Jones, Peter, ed. The Mendelssohns on Honeymoon: The 1837 Diary of Felix and Cécile Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Together with Letters to Their Families. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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        A thoroughly annotated edition of Mendelssohn’s honeymoon diary (March-September 1837). Also included are letters to the composer’s family from the same period, and transcriptions of compositions recorded in the diary. German ed.: Das Tagebuch der Hochzeitsreise nebst Briefen an die Familien. Zurich: Atlantis Musikbuch-Verlag, 1997.

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      • Zappalà, Pietro. “Dalla Spree al Tevere: Il diario del viaggio di Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy verso l’Italia (1830–1831)—Edizione e commento.” In Album amicorum Albert Dunning: In occasione del suo LXV compleanno. Edited by Giacomo Fornari, 713–788. Turnhout: Brepols, 2002.

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        A critical edition with full commentary of one of Mendelssohn’s pocket diaries, that records events in his life during the Italian sojourn of 1830–1831.

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      Correspondence of Other Family Members

      The Mendelssohn family boasted a number of prominent musicians, artists, bankers, and mathematicians, whose correspondence is of general interest. Citron 1987 offers a selection of letters from Fanny Hensel to her brother, Gilbert 1975 introduces letters from several generations of the family, while Dinglinger 2010 presents the previously unpublished correspondence of the composer’s mother to a Viennese cousin.

      • Citron, Marcia, ed. The Letters of Fanny Hensel to Felix Mendelssohn. Stuyvesant: Pendragon, 1987.

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        An edition of 150 letters from Mendelssohn’s elder sister to the composer, presented in English translation and the original German, and carefully annotated.

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      • Dinglinger, Wolfgang, and Rudolf Elvers, eds. Briefe von Lea Mendelssohn-Bartholdy an Henriette von Pereira Arnstein. Hanover: Wehrhahn, 2010.

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        The correspondence of the composer’s mother, Lea (1777–1842), to her Viennese cousin Henriette von Pereira Arnstein (1780–1859). A highly significant new source of information about the Mendelssohn family.

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      • Gilbert, Felix, ed. Bankiers, Künstler und Gelehrte: Unveröffentlichte Briefe der Familie Mendelssohn aus dem 19. Jahrhundert. Tübingen, Germany: J. C. B. Mohr, 1975.

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        Representative letters from several generations of the Mendelssohn family. Contains an excellent introductory essay by a Mendelssohn descendant, the noted historian Felix Gilbert, about the social and cultural aspirations of the Mendelssohns as they sought full assimilation into German society.

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      Memoirs, Recollections

      After Mendelssohn’s death, several of his close friends and colleagues published memoirs of the composer, including their correspondence with him. For the most part these accounts tend to overplay what Friedrich Niecks later termed “the harmonious inner life of Mendelssohn.” Still, they provide essential documentary evidence of the composer’s life and work. Among the memoirs/correspondence of his circle are those of the actor/singer Eduard Devrient (Devrient 1972), violinist Ferdinand David (Eckhardt 1888), music theorist A. B. Marx (Marx 1991), poet Goethe (Mendelssohn-Bartholdy 1970), pianist/composer Ignaz Moscheles (Moscheles 1970), amateur singer Elise Polko (Polko 1987), Protestant minister Julius Schubring (Schubring 1991), and composer Robert Schumann (Schumann 1980).

      • Devrient, Eduard. Meine Erinnerungen an Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy und seine Briefe an mich. Translated by Natalia Macfarren as My Recollections of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and His Letters to Me. New York: Vienna House, 1972.

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        Memoirs of Mendelssohn by the actor and singer Eduard Devrient (1801–1877), including a sizeable portion of the correspondence between the two. First published London: Richard Bentley, 1869. For significant corrigenda, see J. Rigbie Turner, “Mendelssohn’s Letters to Eduard Devrient: Filling in Some Gaps.” In Todd 2006 as cited under General Collections, 200–239.

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      • Eckhardt, Johannes. Ferdinand David und die Familie Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Aus hinterlassenen Briefschaften. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1888.

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        Mendelssohn’s correspondence with Ferdinand David, concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the musician for whom Mendelssohn composed the Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64.

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      • Marx, Adolf Bernhard. “From the Memoirs of Adolf Bernhard Marx.” In Mendelssohn and His World. Edited by R. Larry Todd and translated by Susan Gillespie, 206–220. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

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        The memoirs of the music theorist Adolf Bernhard Marx, who influenced Mendelssohn’s music aesthetics during the 1820s, and remained a member of his inner circle until their ultimate break in the 1840s. First published as Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben, Berlin: Otto Janke, 1865

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      • Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Karl. Goethe and Mendelssohn (1821–1831). Translated by M. E. von Glehn. New York: Haskell House, 1970.

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        Mendelssohn’s friendship with the poet Goethe, documented primarily from correspondence, as collected by the composer’s son Karl Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1838–1897). An extensive appendix added for the 2nd ed. offers thirty-seven additional letters of Mendelssohn to various correspondents. Originally published as Goethe und Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1871.

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      • Moscheles, Ignaz. Recent Music and Musicians, as Described in the Diaries and Correspondence of Ignatz Moscheles. Edited by Charlotte Moscheles and translated by A. D. Coleridge. New York: Da Capo, 1970.

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        The memoirs of Ignaz Moscheles, spanning his life and career up to 1870, with detailed reminiscences of his interactions with Mendelssohn between 1824 and 1847. Originally published 1873 (New York: Henry Holt & Co.).

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      • Polko, Elise. Reminiscences of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: A Social and Artistic Biography. Translated by Lady [Grace Stein Don] Wallace. Macomb: Glenbridge, 1987.

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        A freely embroidered biographical account of the composer written “con amore” by Elise Polko, who knew Mendelssohn during the later Leipzig years. Includes in an appendix several letters of the composer. Originally published as Erinnerungen an Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Ein Künstler und Menschenleben. Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1868. English ed. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1869.

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      • Schubring, Julius. “Memoirs of Mendelssohn by His Friend Julius Schubring.” In Mendelssohn and His World. Edited by R. Larry Todd, 221–236. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

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        Memoirs of Mendelssohn by his friend Julius Schubring. Originally published as “Erinnerungen an Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.” Daheim 2 (1866): 373–76.

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      • Schumann, Robert. Erinnerungen an Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Edited by Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn in Metzger and Riehn. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Musik-Konzepte 14/15. Munich: edition text + kritik, 1980.

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        Robert Schumann’s sketchlike memoirs of Mendelssohn prepared after his death. Originally published, ed. Georg Eismann. Zwickau: Predella, 1947.

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      Life and Works, Biographies

      Biographies of Mendelssohn have ranged from popular, heavily romanticized accounts to scholarly treatments based upon examinations of the primary source evidence. Of the more recent publications, Brown 2003 presents useful selections of documents; Todd’s two biographies of Mendelssohn and Hensel (Todd 2003 and Todd 2010) attempt balanced accounts of their lives and music, including the sizeable oeuvre of the composer’s sister, who produced well over four hundred compositions. For compact biographies, see Radcliffe 1990 and Mercer-Taylor 2000. Werner counts among the first attempts to rehabilitate the composer’s image. Todd 2001 and Wehner 2004, written for English and German music encyclopedias, include summary lists of Mendelssohn’s compositions.

      • Brown, Clive. A Portrait of Mendelssohn. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

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        A portrayal of Mendelssohn through a variety of documents (letters, diaries, memoirs, reviews, press reports), organized topically into ten chapters: the man, multiplicity of talent, family background, religion and race, professional career, the practical musician, the teacher, the composer, critical reception, and posthumous reputation.

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      • Mercer-Taylor, Peter. The Life of Mendelssohn. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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        A compact biography of the composer that considers Jewish issues and the place of the Mendelssohn family in post-Napoleonic, Restoration Germany.

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      • Radcliffe, Philip. Mendelssohn, revised by Peter Ward Jones. London: Dent, 1990.

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        A compact life-and-works biography of Mendelssohn, originally released in the Dent Master Musician series. For the third edition Peter Ward Jones has incorporated various corrections and overhauled the appendices, including the works list. Originally published 1954 (London: J. M. Dent & Sons); 2nd ed. 1967 (New York: J. M. Dent).

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      • Todd, R. Larry. “Mendelssohn (-Bartholdy).” In New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Vol. 16. Edited by Stanley Sadie, 389–424. London: Macmillan, 2001.

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        The Mendelssohn entry for the 2001 edition of the Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, including an expanded works list, now superseded, however, by Ralf Wehner’s definitive Mendelssohn Werkverzeichnis (see Catalogues and Bibliographies).

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      • Todd, R. Larry. Mendelssohn: A Life in Music. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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        A biography of Mendelssohn, first published in 2003, revised in 2005, and released in an expanded German edition in 2009, with a works list prepared by the author and Angela R. Mace, and over one hundred illustrations, including eight full-color plates (Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Sein Leben, seine Musik. Trans. Thomas and Helga Schmidt-Beste. Stuttgart: Reclam/Carus Verlag, 2009). The Mendelssohn reception is sketched in the Preface, and Mendelssohn’s relationship with his sister Fanny Hensel is examined in detail. Full discussion of Mendelssohn’s music, including unpublished or little-known works.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. Fanny Hensel: The Other Mendelssohn. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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        A biography of Mendelssohn’s elder sister, Fanny Hensel, who, alluding to Goethe, claimed that her brother exercised a “demonic influence” over her. The full scope of Hensel’s sizeable musical oeuvre is treated, as is the protracted path she pursued to begin realizing in her last year her ambitions as a professional composer. Supplemental musical examples and selected recordings are available at a supporting online website.

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      • Wehner, Ralf, and Friedhelm Krummacher. “Mendelssohn, Felix (Jacob Ludwig).” In Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 2d ed. Edited by Ludwig Finscher, 1542–1642. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2004, Personenteil 11.

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        The Mendelssohn entry for the current edition of the German encyclopaedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Includes sections on iconography, Mendelssohn’s honorary titles, and a detailed Zeittafel for his travels and various residences.

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      • Werner, Eric. Mendelssohn: A New Image of the Composer and His Age. Translated by Dika Newlin. London: Free Press of Glencoe, 1963.

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        The first major 20th-century biography to rehabilitate Mendelssohn’s image. Draws into focus the question of his Jewish heritage, and relies upon unpublished source material, though not always accurately. In 1980 the author published an expanded German edition (Mendelssohn: Leben und Werk in neuer Sicht, Zurich: Atlantis). Controversy has not eluded Werner’s biography. Writing in The Musical Quarterly in 1998, Jeffrey Sposato uncovered some examples in which Werner apparently misrepresented the texts of some documents.

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      Works

      The Mendelssohn literature now includes individual studies of nearly all of the major works. Here we offer a brief selection organized in four categories: Issues of Style and Aesthetics, Instrumental Works, Vocal Works, and Stage Works.

      Issues of Style and Aesthetics

      One distinctive feature of Mendelssohn’s style is his use of chorales, including text-less, freely composed chorales, examined in Koch 2003. Schmidt 1996 addresses Mendelssohn’s attitudes toward music aesthetics, while Vitercik 1992 considers the composer’s approach to form in his early works.

      • Koch, Armin. Choräle und Choralhaftes im Werk von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003.

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        The use of chorales in Mendelssohn’s music, including chorale-like passages and so-called free chorales.

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      • Schmidt, Thomas Christian. Die ästhetischen Grundlagen der Instrumentalmusik Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys. Stuttgart: Verlag J. P. Metzler, 1996.

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        A thorough examination of Mendelssohn’s music aesthetics, focusing on his view of instrumental music as a form of communication more precise than that of words. Examines his relationships with Hegel and A. B. Marx, and offers interpretations of a variety of instrumental works, including the concert overtures, symphonies, and Lieder ohne Worte.

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      • Vitercik, Greg. The Early Works of Felix Mendelssohn: A Study in the Romantic Sonata Style. Philadelphia: Gordon and Breach, 1992.

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        An analytical and critical study of Mendelssohn’s early works, focusing on the issue of large-scale formal design in the instrumental music. Argues that Mendelssohn successfully broached the limits of small-scale genres to develop a successful and large-scale romantic sonata style.

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      Instrumental Works

      A representative selection of studies of the instrumental works, divided into Keyboard, Chamber, Orchestral Overtures, and Other Orchestral works.

      Keyboard

      Recent scholarship has tended to focus on the origins and meaning of the Lieder ohne Worte for piano (Cooper 1999, Jost 1988, Todd 1992), and the organ music (Little 2010, Todd 1995). Todd 2004 surveys the full scope of Mendelssohn’s piano music.

      • Cooper, John Michael. “Words without Songs? Of Texts, Titles, and Mendelssohn’s Lieder ohne Worte.” In Musik als Text? Bericht über den internationalen Kongreß der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, Freiburg im Breisgau 1993. Vol. 2. Edited by Hermann Danuser and Tobias Plebuch, 341–346. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1999.

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        Examines Mendelssohn’s views about adding titles or texts to his Lieder ohne Worte, originally conceived as piano music.

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      • Jost, Christa. Mendelssohns Lieder ohne Worte. Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1988.

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        A penetrating study of the Lieder ohne Worte, organized topically, and including discussions of the origins of the genre, performance venues, individual pieces versus collections of Lieder ohne Worte, and analyses of individual Lieder.

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      • Little, Wm. A. Mendelssohn and the Organ. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195394382.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        A historical-critical study of the role of the organ in Mendelssohn’s life and music, and discussion of his complete organ works. Supplemented by several useful appendices, including a survey of the instruments on which the composer performed.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. “Piano Music Reformed: The Case of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.” In Nineteenth-Century Piano Music. Edited by R. Larry Todd. New York: Routledge, 2004.

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        A survey of Mendelssohn’s piano music, organized into four sections: student works, Lieder ohne Worte, large piano works, and small piano pieces. Originally published 1990 (New York: Schirmer Books).

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      • Todd, R. Larry. “‘Gerade das Lied wie es dasteht’: On Text and Meaning in Mendelssohn’s Lieder ohne Worte.” In Musical Humanism and Its Legacy: Essays in Honor of Claude V. Palisca. Edited by Nancy Kovaleff Baker and Barbara Russano Harming, 355–379. New York: Pendragon, 1992.

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        On the meaning of Mendelssohn’s Lieder ohne Worte, and their relation to verbal texts and images. Considers the case of the Herbstlied, Op. 63 No. 4, published as a duet on a text by Klingemann, though originally conceived as a Lied ohne Worte for piano solo.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. “New Light on Mendelssohn’s Freie Fantasie (1840).” In Literary and Musical Notes: A Festschrift for Wm. A. Little. Edited by Geoffrey C. Orth, 205–218. Bern: Peter Lang, 1995.

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        Considers an incomplete draft of an organ composition based on the chorale “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden,” and suggests that it records elements of Mendelssohn’s culminating improvisation at his celebrated organ concert of Bach at the Leipzig Thomaskirche in August 1840.

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      Chamber

      Krummacher 1978 offers an exhaustive treatment of the chamber music; a compact survey is available in Todd 2004. Taylor 2008 focuses on the Octet, usually viewed as the composer’s first masterpiece.

      • Krummacher, Friedhelm. Mendelssohn—der Komponist: Studien zur Kammermusik für Streicher. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1978.

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        A monumental study of the chamber music for strings, beginning with the significance of chamber music and its traditions in Mendelssohn’s oeuvre. Krummacher reviews the genesis and chronology of the chamber works, and the autograph sources as documents of compositional process, and then considers the composer’s approach to thematicism and form, specifically sonata form, sonata rondo, slow movement (Liedsatz), and scherzo.

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      • Taylor, Benedict. “Musical History and Self-Consciousness in Mendelssohn’s Octet, Op. 20.” 19th Century Music 32 (2008): 131–151.

        DOI: 10.1525/ncm.2008.32.2.131Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Mendelssohn’s use of cyclic form in the Octet, and its possible relation to Hegel and Goethe.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. “The Chamber Music of Mendelssohn.” In Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music. Edited by Stephen Hefling, 170–207. New York: Routledge, 2004.

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        A survey of Mendelssohn’s chamber music, from the student works of the 1820s to the String Quartet in F minor, Op. 80. Originally published 1998 (New York: Schirmer Books).

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      Overtures

      A number of studies focus on the three overtures Mendelssohn published in score in 1835: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Todd 1993), Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage (Haney 2004 and Todd 1993), and Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave; Eichhorn 1998, Todd 1979, and Todd 1993).

      Other Orchestral

      Mendelssohn’s symphonies are now well represented by major monographs (Cooper 2003 on the Italian Symphony; Hoshino 2003 and Mercer-Taylor 1995 on the Scottish Symphony; Silber 1987 on the Reformation Symphony; all are discussed in Konold 1992 and Todd 1997); still needed is a monograph devoted to the celebrated Violin Concerto, Op. 64. Todd 1980 and Todd 1982 introduces two fragments for a Symphony in C major and Piano Concerto in E minor.

      • Cooper, John Michael. Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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        A volume in the Studies in Musical Genesis and Structure series, Cooper’s monograph reviews the genesis and history of the Italian Symphony, and argues that vol. 28 of the Mendelssohn Nachlass in the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, which transmits the last three movements, represents the composer’s final revisions of 1834, and thus offers their final version.

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      • Hoshino, Hiromi. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and the Scottish Symphony. Tokyo: Ongaku no tomo, 2003.

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        The evolution and history of the Scottish Symphony, from its inspiration at Holyrood Chapel in Edinburgh in 1829 to its completion in 1842. In Japanese, the volume includes numerous facsimiles of autograph and other primary sources.

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      • Konold, Wulf. Die Symphonien Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys: Untersuchungen zu Werkgestalt und Fomrstruktur. Laaber, Germany: Laaber-Verlag, 1992.

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        A study focusing primarily upon the five mature symphonies, grouping together the Reformation and Lobgesang as examples of “religiöse Symphonik,” and the Italian and Scottish Symphonies as examples of “characteristic symphonies.”

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      • Mercer-Taylor, Peter. “Mendelssohn’s ‘Scottish’ Symphony and the Music of German Memory.” 19th Century Music 19 (1995): 68–82.

        DOI: 10.1525/ncm.1995.19.1.02a00040Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Examines the finale of the Scottish Symphony, and in particular the coda, for evidence that Mendelssohn intended it to celebrate a German past.

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      • Silber, Judith Karen. “Mendelssohn and the Reformation Symphony: A Critical and Historical Study.” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1987.

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        The compositional genesis and history of Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony, based on a review of the primary sources. Examines as well the programmatic narrative behind the symphony.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. “An Unfinished Symphony by Mendelssohn.” Music & Letters 61 (1980): 293–309. Reprinted in R. Larry Todd, Mendelssohn Essays. New York: Routledge, 2008.

        DOI: 10.1093/ml/61.3-4.293Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Examines the unfinished autograph drafts of the Symphony in C major and proposes 1845 as a date for the principal work on the project.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. “An Unfinished Piano Concerto by Mendelssohn.” The Musical Quarterly 68 (1982): 80–101. Reprinted in R. Larry Todd, Mendelssohn Essays. New York: Routledge, 2008.

        DOI: 10.1093/mq/LXVIII.1.80Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Examines the autograph sketches and drafts of the unfinished Piano Concerto in E minor, which may be dated c. 1842–1844.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. “Mendelssohn.” In The Nineteenth-Century Symphony. Edited by D. Kern Holoman, 78–107. New York: Schirmer Books, 1997.

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        A survey of Mendelssohn’s symphonies and overtures.

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      Vocal Works

      This section lists some representative publications for Mendelssohn’s Sacred music, the Oratorios St. Paul, Elijah, and Christus, and Other Vocal Works.

      Sacred

      Major studies of the sacred works include Dinglinger 1993 on the psalm settings, Wehner 1996 on the early sacred music, and Zappalà 1991 on the chorale cantatas. Brodbeck 1994 disentangles the complicated chronology of Mendelssohn’s sacred works composed during 1843 and 1844, including the Three Motets, Op. 78.

      • Brodbeck, David. “Eine kleine Kirchenmusik: A New Canon, a Revised Cadence, and an Obscure ‘Coda’ by Mendelssohn.” Journal of Musicology 12 (1994): 179–205.

        DOI: 10.1525/jm.1994.12.2.03a00030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        A review of the sacred music Mendelssohn composed for the Prussian king Frederick William IV during the winter of 1843–1844.

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      • Dinglinger, Wolfgang. Studien zu den Psalmen mit Orchester von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Cologne: Studio, 1993.

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        Examines the cantata-like psalm settings: Psalm 115, Op. 31; Psalm 42, Op. 42; Psalm 95, Op. 46; Psalm 114, Op. 51; and Psalm 98, Op. 91.

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      • Wehner, Ralf. Studien zum geistlichen Chorschaffen des jungen Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Sinnzig: Studio Verl. Schewe, 1996.

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        A study of the early sacred music of Mendelssohn, beginning with his composition exercises and including analyses of the Magnificat, Kyrie in D minor, Hora est, and Tue s Petrus.

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      • Zappalà, Pietro. Le “Choralkantaten” di Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Venice: Edizioni Fondazione Levi, 1991.

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        A study of the seven chorale cantatas composed between 1827 and 1832 (Christe, Du Lamm Gottes; Jesu, meine Freude; Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten; O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden; Vom Himmel hoch; Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott; and Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh’ darein.

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      Oratorios

      While Mendelssohn’s Elijah remains his most popular oratorio (see Werner 1965), a number of studies (including Mercer-Taylor 1997, Reichwald 2001, and Sposato 2008) have drawn renewed attention to St. Paul (Paulus). Hoensbroech 2005 is the first major study of Mendelssohn’s unfinished oratorio Christus. Sposato 2006 examines the shaping of the oratorio libretti for evidence of Mendelssohn’s shifting relationship with his Jewish heritage.

      • Hoensbroech, Raphael Graf von. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys unvollendetes Oratorium Christus. Cassel: Bosse, 2005.

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        A detailed study of the conception and history of Mendelssohn’s third oratorio, known as Christus, Op. 97, but originally titled Erde, Himmel und Hölle (Earth, Heaven, and Hell).

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      • Mercer-Taylor, Peter. “Rethinking Mendelssohn’s Historicism: A Lesson from St. Paul.” Journal of Musicology 15 (1997): 208–229.

        DOI: 10.1525/jm.1997.15.2.03a00030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Examines Mendelssohn’s use of chorales in St. Paul and suggests that their increasing complexity suggests a “self-reflexivity, or self-critique.”

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      • Reichwald, Siegwart. The Musical Genesis of Felix Mendelssohn’s Paulus. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2001.

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        The genesis and compositional history of Mendelssohn’s oratorio St. Paul, based on close readings of the autograph sources.

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      • Sposato, Jeffrey S. The Price of Assimilation: Felix Mendelssohn and the Nineteenth-Century Anti-Semitic Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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        A probing account of the question of the spiritual identity of the composer, who, the grandson of Moses Mendelssohn, converted at age seven to Protestantism. Examines the composer’s shifting and complex relationship to Judaism by reconsidering the significance of Mendelssohn’s cuts in the 1829 landmark performance of the St. Matthew Passion, and the compositional gestation of several sacred works, including the oratorios and Mendelssohn’s libretto for A. B. Marx’s Mose.

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      • Sposato, Jeffrey S. “Saint Elsewhere: German and English Reactions to Mendelssohn’s Paulus.” 19th Century Music 32 (2008): 26–51.

        DOI: 10.1525/ncm.2008.32.1.026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Considers differing reactions to Mendelssohn’s oratorio Paulus (St. Paul) in German realms and England.

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      • Werner, Jack. Mendelssohn’s “Elijah.” London: Chappell & Co., 1965.

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        A historical and analytical guide to Mendelssohn’s second oratorio, including brief discussions of the individual movements.

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      Other Vocal Works

      Cooper 2002 discusses a little-known song cycle from 1830, while Cooper 2007 offers a major new monograph on the cantata Die erste Walpurgisnacht, which Berlioz especially prized among Mendelssohn’s larger works.

      • Cooper, John Michael. “Of Red Roofs and Hunting Horns: Mendelssohn’s Song Aesthetic, with an Unpublished Cycle (1830).” Journal of Musicological Research 21 (2002): 277–317.

        DOI: 10.1080/01411890215861Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Mendelssohn’s approach to song composition, as revealed in “Ferne,” Op. 9 No. 9, and a small cycle from 1830.

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      • Cooper, John Michael. Mendelssohn, Goethe, and the Walpurgis Night: The Heathen Muse in European Culture, 1700–1850. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2007.

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        A detailed and rich study of the genesis, compositional history, and structure of Mendelssohn’s cantata Die erste Walpurgisnacht, and of the narrative poem by Goethe on which it is based.

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      Stage Works

      Mendelssohn never produced a successful opera, though not for want of trying. A number of studies consider his frustrated operatic ambitions (Elvers 1976), and also his considerably more successful incidental music for productions of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Sophocles’ Theban trilogy (Flashar 2001, Geary 2006, Wilson Kimber 2007). Krettenauer 1994 examines the early opera Heimkehr aus der Fremde (1829).

      • Elvers, Rudolf. “Nichts ist so schwer gut zu componiren als Strophen”: Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Librettos von Felix Mendelssohns Opera “Die Hochzeit des Camacho. Berlin: Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft, 1976.

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        On the origins of the libretto for Mendelssohn’s opera Die Hochzeit des Camacho, premiered in Berlin in 1827 but then withdrawn.

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      • Flashar, Helmut. Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy und die griechische Tragödie: Buhnenmusik im Kontext von Politk, Kultur und Bildung. Stuttgart: Hirzel, 2001.

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        Mendelssohn’s study of Greek tragedy, and his revival of Antigone and Oedipus at Colonos at the Prussian court of Frederick William IV.

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      • Geary, Jason. “Reinventing the Past: Mendelssohn’s Antigone and the Creation of an Ancient Greek Musical Language.” Journal of Musicology 23 (2006): 187–226.

        DOI: 10.1525/jm.2006.23.2.187Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Mendelssohn’s collaboration with Ludwig Tieck in reviving Sophocles’ Antigone, and the problem of mediating between practices of Greek antiquity and German musical romanticism of the 1840s.

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      • Krettenauer, Thomas. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys “Heimkehr aus der Fremde”: Untersuchungen und Dokumente zum Liederspiel Op. 89. Augsburg: Bernd Wißner, 1994.

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        A comprehensive study of Heimkehr aus der Fremde (Son and Stranger), Op. 89, composed for the silver wedding anniversary of the composer’s parents in 1829.

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      • Warrack, John. “Mendelssohn’s Operas.” In Music and Theatre: Essays in Honour of Winton Dean. Edited by Nigel Fortune, 263–297. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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        A general survey and examination of Mendelssohn’s operatic works, including the youthful Singspiele of the early 1820s, Die Hochzeit des Camacho, and the unfinished Lorelei.

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      • Wilson Kimber, Marian. “Victorian Fairies and Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in England.” Nineteenth-Century Music Review 4 (2007): 53–79.

        DOI: 10.1017/S1479409800000069Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Mendelssohn’s music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Victorian culture and its role in the feminization of the composer.

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      Other Studies

      A selection of other studies on a variety of topics, including Reception History, Historicism, Visual Arts, and Performance Practice.

      Reception History

      The curious Mendelssohn reception, with its alternating poles of lionization and denigration, has attracted serious scholarly attention in recent years. Eatock 2009 and Mercer-Taylor 2009 consider attitudes toward Mendelssohn in 19th-century England and the United States; Todd 2009 examines how the composer influenced to varying degrees a wide range of later 19th- and 20th-century composers.

      • Eatock, Colin Timothy. Mendelssohn and Victorian England. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009.

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        The English reception of Mendelssohn over the course of his ten visits between 1829 and 1847, culminating in the performances of Elijah in 1846 and 1847, and his influence on English Victorian culture.

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      • Mercer-Taylor, Peter. “Mendelssohn in American Hymnody.” 19th Century Music 32 (2009): 235–283.

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        Examines how European classical music reached American audiences through adaptations into hymn tunes, and identifies fifty-eight examples drawn from the music of Mendelssohn.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. “Mendelssohn Reception and Us: Reflections on the Bicentenary.” Ad Parnassum 7 (2009): 7–36.

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        Traces certain threads of the Mendelssohn reception in the later 19th and 20th centuries, and examines his influence on a wide variety of composers usually not associated with him, including Mahler, Reger, and Benjamin Britten.

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      Historicism

      Mendelssohn’s interest in earlier music was broad and deep, and extended not only to Bach and Handel but also to 16th- and 17th-century music (Großmann-Vendrey 1969). Applegate 2005, Geck 1967, and Pape 1988 treat Mendelssohn’s abiding interests in Bach’s music; Todd 1983 examines the young composer’s links to the Bachian tradition as evidenced in his composition exercises with Carl Friedrich Zelter. Garratt 1999 suggests that Mendelssohn’s historicism was an attempt to connect the musical present with the past.

      • Applegate, Celia. Bach in Berlin: Nation and Culture in Mendelssohn’s Revival of the St. Matthew Passion. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005.

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        Mendelssohn’s celebrated 1829 revival of the St. Matthew Passion in Berlin and its influence in reshaping the role of music in the German national identity.

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      • Garratt, John A. “Mendelssohn’s Babel: Romanticism and the Poetics of Translation.” Music & Letters 80 (1999): 23–49.

        DOI: 10.1093/ml/80.1.23Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Suggests that Mendelssohn’s interests in earlier music do not reflect a reactionary stylistic taste as much as an attempt to connect the musical present and past through a mode of “translation.”

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      • Geck, Martin. Die Wiederentdeckung der Matthäuspassion im 19. Jahrhundert. Regensburg: Gustav Bosse, 1967.

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        A study based on primary documents of Mendelssohn’s celebrated revival of J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Berlin Singakademie in 1829.

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      • Großmann-Vendrey, Susanna. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy und die Musik der Vergangenheit. Regensburg: Gustav Bosse, 1969.

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        An engaging account of Mendelssohn’s lifelong interest in music of the past, including the classical and baroque periods, and also Renaissance composers such as Palestrina and Lassus. Mendelssohn’s concert activities as music director in Düsseldorf and Leipzig, and as director of music festivals are considered, and also his career as an organist and editor of J. S. Bach and Handel.

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      • Pape, Matthias. Mendelssohns Lepziger Orgelkonzerte 1840: Ein Beitrag zur Bach-Pflege im 19. Jahrhundert. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1988.

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        A documentary study of Mendelssohn’s celebrated organ concert of J. S. Bach’s music in the Leipzig Thomaskirche on August 6, 1840 to raise funds for the Bach Denkmal unveiled near the Thomaskirche in 1843.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. Mendelssohn’s Musical Education: A Study and Edition of His Exercises in Musical Composition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

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        A study and edition of Bodleian Library, M. Deneke Mendelssohn C. 43, which contains Mendelssohn’s composition studies with Carl Friedrich Zelter from 1819 to 1821.

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      Visual Arts

      An accomplished painter and draughtsman, Mendelssohn frequently found musical inspiration in visual scenes and views, and arguably blended the visual and musical in his most romantic works. Koyanagi 1992 offers a good selection of the artwork (much in full color), Crum 1984 considers how the composer selected particular views to record, and Grey 1997 opens up for discussion the role of visual elements in Mendelssohn’s orchestral music.

      • Crum, Margaret. “Mendelssohn’s Drawing and the Doubled Life of Memory.” In Festschrift Albi Rosenthal. Edited by Rudolf Elvers, 87–103. Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1984.

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        Considers Mendelssohn’s drawings from the perspective of their subjects, and how he selected visual impressions as worthy of recording.

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      • Grey, Thomas S. “Tableaux vivants: Landscape, History Painting, and the Visual Imagination in Mendelssohn’s Orchestral Music.” 19th Century Music 21 (1997): 38–76.

        DOI: 10.1525/ncm.1997.21.1.02a00020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        The influence of tableaux vivants, landscape painting, dioramas, and Ossianic paintings on Mendelssohn’s orchestral works, including the Italian and Scottish Symphonies and the Hebrides Overture.

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      • Koyanagi, Reiko. Mendelssohn. Tokyo: Iwasaki Bijutsusha, 1992.

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        Full-color reproductions of seventy-four drawings and paintings of Mendelssohn, with accompanying essays in German and English by Hans-Günter Klein and R. Larry Todd.

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      Performance Practice

      How Mendelssohn performed his music and how it was received by his audiences have inspired some new modes of inquiry. Reichwald 2008 offers the first collection of essays devoted to performance practice issues, while Todd 1991 studies in particular Mendelssohn’s approach to performing and understanding Mozart’s music.

      • Reichwald, Siegwart, ed. Mendelssohn in Performance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.

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        A volume of eleven essays devoted to various aspects of Mendelssohn performance practice, the first such publication in the literature. Contributors include Clive Brown, John Michael Cooper, Kenneth Hamilton, Monika Hennemann, Peter Ward Jones, David Milsom, Siegwart Reichwald, Douglass Seaton, and Ralf Wehner.

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      • Todd, R. Larry. “Mozart According to Mendelssohn: A Contribution to Rezeptionsgeschichte.” In Perspectives on Mozart Performance. Edited by R. Larry Todd and Peter Williams, 158–203. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

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        Considers Mendelssohn’s study, interpretation, and performances of Mozart. Compares the finales of the Jupiter Symphony and Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No. VIII, and examines a cadenza Mendelssohn wrote for Mozart’s Double Piano Concerto in E-flat major, K. 365.

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      LAST MODIFIED: 06/29/2011

      DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199757824-0020

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