Esteem for Felix Mendelssohn’s music

Mendelssohn: A Life in MusicAs we give esteem toward people, we can give esteem toward cultures, organizations or art.

The beauty of classical music is immediate for some, but for others it takes time to discover.

Once discovered it’s easy to give esteem toward classical music because often it touches the very soul of the listener.

I was reminded of my esteem for this art when an important moment in classical music history happened.

Long-lost compositions of German composer Felix Mendelssohn were found in private collections and libraries.

The first performance of these 13 unknown works of Mendelssohn took place at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage on January 28th 2008 – just six days before Mendelssohn’s 200th birthday.

It’s a great moment to make us aware of the role of music in our life and to give esteem toward those who create it. Do you know about Felix Mendelssohn and his life? If not here’s a great book for you.

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music

Book Facts

  • Author: R. Larry Todd
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 24, 2005)
  • Paperback, also available as Hardcover and ebook
  • 736 pages

An extraordinary prodigy of Mozartean abilities, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was a distinguished composer and conductor, a legendary pianist and organist, and an accomplished painter and classicist. Lionized in his lifetime, he is best remembered today for several staples of the concert hall and for such popular music as “The Wedding March” and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” Now, in the first major Mendelssohn biography to appear in decades, R. Larry Todd offers a remarkably fresh account of this musical giant, based upon painstaking research in autograph manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, and paintings. Rejecting the view of the composer as a craftsman of felicitous but sentimental, saccharine works (termed by one critic “moonlight with sugar water”), Todd reexamines the composer’s entire oeuvre, including many unpublished and little known works. Here are engaging analyses of Mendelssohn’s distinctive masterpieces–the zestful Octet, puckish Midsummer Night’s Dream, haunting Hebrides Overtures, and elegiac Violin Concerto in E minor. Todd describes how the composer excelled in understatement and nuance, in subtle, coloristic orchestrations that lent his scores an undeniable freshness and vividness. He also explores Mendelssohn’s changing awareness of his religious heritage, Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitic attack on Mendelssohn’s music, the composer’s complex relationship with his sister Fanny Hensel, herself a child prodigy and prolific composer, his avocation as a painter and draughtsman, and his remarkable, polylingual correspondence with the cultural elite of his time.  Mendelssohn: A Life offers a masterful blend of biography and musical analysis. Readers will discover many new facets of the familiar but misunderstood composer and gain new perspectives on one of the most formidable musical geniuses of all time.

Reader reviews

Mendelssohn is one of those composers who, while never being denied the title of genius, doesn’t get as much attention as others from the Romantic Era. He left behind an incredible corpus, and this book went into great detail on a lot of it. Todd does a great job handling the various narrative threads while also commenting on the music itself, replete with numerous musical examples.  Ultimately, though, I found this biography to be well-researched and written in an interesting way. Highly recommended for the musician and or historian in us.

Todd’s research is comprehensive and well documented. He put together the observations of Mendelssohn’s family and contemporaries with quotations of Felix in a style that makes one feel that you really know the man. This is one of the best musicological treatises I have ever read. If you want to meet Mendelssohn, you must read this book.

Very detailed analysis of Mendelssohn’s work with reference to other composer’s music. Much more than a straight forward biography. Anyone with a music background would not only enjoy the book, but would be challenged by the musical comparisons made. A very serious study of a great composer.

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