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A Portrait of Mendelssohn$
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Clive Brown

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300095395

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300095395.001.0001

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• Conducting

• Conducting

Chapter:
30 • Conducting
Source:
A Portrait of Mendelssohn
Author(s):

Clive Brown

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300095395.003.0030

During Felix Mendelssohn's time, the art of conducting was still very much in its infancy. He played a major role in its development by being at the forefront of developments in conducting, particularly in Germany and England. At an early age, Mendelssohn acquired his practical skill in directing ensembles by participating in the private performances, involving members of the Royal Orchestra, held regularly in the family home. Despite his effectiveness as a conductor, however, his choice of tempo was the target of criticism. Robert Schumann commented on the rapidity with which he took the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, while Richard Wagner took him to task for his tendency to hurry through pieces to the detriment of the music. Many other contemporaries questioned his propensity for fast tempos, not only in conducting but also in piano playing. Mendelssohn's conducting ability was fully realized in Leipzig following the establishment of the Gewandhaus orchestra.

Keywords:   conducting, tempo, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, piano playing, Leipzig, Gewandhaus orchestra

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