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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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• Changing Critical Perspectives

• Changing Critical Perspectives

Chapter:
52 • Changing Critical Perspectives
Source:
A Portrait of Mendelssohn
Author(s):

Clive Brown

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300095395.003.0052

A few writers supported Richard Wagner's assertion that Felix Mendelssohn's Jewish inheritance was the root cause of his supposed musical weaknesses. In 1852, for instance, Wilhelm von Lenz described the music of Mendelssohn as echoing the psalmodic chants of the synagogue. Several years later, Joseph Schlüter suggested “the absence of innate vigor, masculine simplicity, and genuine feeling” in Mendelssohn's music, while August Reissmann attempted to correct what he deemed to be excessive admiration for Mendelssohn among many musicians and music lovers. During the first two decades after his death, Mendelssohn's stature was the subject of considerable debate in Germany. In France, Mendelssohn's music began to arouse greater interest as performances of instrumental music increased in popularity. At the end of the 1860s and in the 1870s in England, his compositions remained central to the repertoire. During the centenary of Mendelssohn's birth in 1909, a number of writers took the opportunity to consider the discrepancy between Mendelssohn's reputation then and half a century earlier.

Keywords:   instrumental music, Richard Wagner, Wilhelm von Lenz, Joseph Schlüter, August Reissmann, Germany, France, England

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