Felix Mendelssohn Fans

Saulsmusic

Felix Mendelssohn Fans

Post by Saulsmusic » Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:59 am

Here you get the chance to talk about the great Jewish Composer Felix Mendelssohn.I consider Felix Mendelssohn as the greatest Composer ever.
Share your thoughts about this Great Musical Genius!!!

Anyone else in here considers Mendelssohn as thier favorite composer?

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Post by Peter Schenkman » Tue Aug 09, 2005 7:38 am

I refer you to the following site for quite a complete discussion as to Mendelssohn and religion.

http://www.beth-elsa.org/be_s0220.htm

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Post by pizza » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:16 am

Peter Schenkman wrote:I refer you to the following site for quite a complete discussion as to Mendelssohn and religion.

http://www.beth-elsa.org/be_s0220.htm

Peter Schenkman
Sorry to disagree but the site you offered is far from a "complete discussion" of Mendelssohn and religion, but is rather a sales pitch for the Reform Movement by a Reform rabbi using Mendelssohn and the difficulties experienced by German Jewry in recent times as a selling point; hardly an effective selling point, I might add, since most of the family left Judaism and converted to Christianity.

This is hardly the thread to discuss it, but since you raised the issue, anyone seriously interested in the subject can find scores of scholarly books and articles on the subject of Orthodox Judaism and the reasons for its power to remain the main source of Jewish thought and practice throughout the disaspora as well as the reasons for its recent growth.
Last edited by pizza on Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

Alban Berg

Re: Felix Mendelssohn Fans

Post by Alban Berg » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:28 am

Saulsmusic wrote:Anyone else in here considers Mendelssohn as thier [sic] favorite composer?
Not I.

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Post by Peter Schenkman » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:41 am

The Mendelssohn issue is not without interest and perhaps can be summed up rather lightheartedly with a Joni Mitchell song title…..“Both sides now”. Over the years I’ve heard argued, usually quite violently what was Mendelssohn, Jew or Christian? It’s a well known fact that Mendelssohn was born a Jew and converted to Christianity at the age of six, his parents following suit some seven or so years later. As to what did that make him(?), there seems to be a fair degree of disagreement on that point and as I pointed out at the beginning of this it seems to lead to nastiness rather quickly and I’m not going to get involved. I prefer to deal in the facts and leave the rhetoric to others. At his considerable best he was one hell of a composer and one can only marvel at works of genius such as the Octet, Opus 20 and A minor String Quartet, Opus 13 written while still a teen-ager! Perhaps there is something to be said for the world before television took it over.

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Post by Lance » Tue Aug 09, 2005 10:38 am

To me, Mendelssohn will always remain amongst the greatest composers who ever lived. I consider his Elijah (Elias) a greater oratorio than Handel's Messiah, though I would not want to be without the latter either. Whether it's the piano concertos, his chamber music, his symphonies, including the less heard string symphonies, solo piano music, including the delightful Songs Without Words, not to mention his songs ... Mendelssohn is a confirmed genius. And wasn't it Felix who brought about the Bach revival in his own time, which has continued henceforth. In conversation with others about Mendelssohn, they often refer to the "Jewishness" in his music. I haven't been able to put my finger on any of this so-called "Jewishness" that makes using that term so stark. Mendelssohn was influenced by so much, his travels, particularly to Scotland and elsewhere. When one thinks of so much music he's penned, that is quite different in many ways from his contemporaries ... such as the First Walpurgisnacht, the "Lobgesang" Symphony (No. 2) ... these are remarkbly individual works, and all imbued with such incredible harmony and expression. Indeed, Mendelssohn was an absolute genius. One wonders why so many in music are willing to relegate him to a position behind Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, and others of their ilk.
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Saulsmusic

Post by Saulsmusic » Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:57 pm

The Mendelssohns converted becouse of antisemetism.Not becouse of the love of christianity.To use Heine's words:"A ticket of Admission into European culture".

Abraham's converstion of his Family to christianity means nothing becouse Jewish Law states that once you are a jew you will always stay a Jew no matter how many crosses you hang on your neck or how many times you go into a masque or how many times you pray to Buddah.Once a Jew always a Jew.So poor Felix Mendelssohn at age 3 was taken by his Idiotic and Very Stupid father for converstion.Felix's situation would constitue a concept that is decribed in Jewish law as "Tinok Shneeshba" which means a baby that was captured.Felix had no say in this all affair,he was only 3.His Idiotic father 'captured' him and took away his young son's basic right to live as an observant Jew just becouse Germans wouldnt give his son the right to enter into thier culture.But I would say something that you might find shocking and that is that it was better that Felix stayed like an Observant Ortodox Jew (he came from an ortodox home)and lived a simple life then be taken by his father for converstion living a life as a gentile completly disconnected from his natural history,tradition and people.

Mendelssohn was done a great wrong by his Idiotic father and I think that his right to live in the way of his people was much more important then him becoming a great composer.He could have been a great composer even if he didnt convert or entered 'German Culture'.He could have led a modest life,doing the will of his creator and not living as someone which he wasnt.

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Post by Werner » Tue Aug 09, 2005 1:00 pm

Treasured, yes, but up there with Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven - and let's include Bach?

Must everyone be at the same level - say, Schumann, Dvorak, Chopin, Brahms - you neme them?

I'm not - definitely not - suggesting a ranking system. All these and lots of others have given us music we wouldn't want to be without. Sometimes I feel that the greatest music, or the finest performancce ever is what I'm hearig right now - as happened with Angela Hewitt last night.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Aug 09, 2005 3:57 pm

I've always thought of Mendelssohn as the most stylistically versatile and masterly of all the 19th century composers. A church choir in which a colleague sang back in my IRS days held a Mendelssohn festival. They started with his early works and finished up with his later works. Listening to them arrayed like that, you could sit in the audience and say, "Ah, yes. This is Mendelssohn in his Bach phase." And then "Oh, here's Mendelssohn in his Mozart phase!" It was like listening to a musical Richard Feynmann, recapping all the musical styles that went before him. A lovely experience, on the whole. I wouldn't have any trouble being stranded on a dessert island with nothing but Mendelssohn, whereas I would not be quite so thrilled at the same experience with nothing but Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, etc. just about anybody you could name from the 19th century.
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Post by Ralph » Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:42 pm

I enjoy Mendelssohn's music greatly, including his symphonies and chamber works. But he was no Dittersdorf and about that I'm sure we won't have an argument.

Mendelssohn's family converted for the same reasons that Mahler later did: to shed an inconvenient religious affiliation for which there was no true attachment for one that opened doors.

It's important to remember that true political anti-Semitism largely arises from the late nineteenth century. In Mendelssohn's time anti-Jewish sentiment was largely religiously-based with conversion an offered pathway for redemption and salvation.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:50 pm

Ralph wrote:But he was no Dittersdorf and about that I'm sure we won't have an argument.
Probably one of the few things we won't argue about here . . .
true political anti-Semitism largely arises from the late nineteenth century
So what was all that that happened to them 66 AD - 1800? And what is true political anti-Semitism?
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Saulsmusic

Post by Saulsmusic » Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:59 pm

Lance,

Im very pleased that you understand the greatness of Elijah.
The Work is a true Masterpiece.One of Mendelssohn's Greatest Works.
I Enjoy listening to it time and again.It is full of Drama, and passion.
One of my favorite sections of the Work is the Chorus singing "Thanks be to God" -Praise the Lord" after God sends the rain upon the land.
The Power in this section is totaly amazing and thrilling.A true Masterpiece.

Have you heard the newly discoverd Piano Concerto numer 3 in E minor by Felix?

It is so great!!!
Last edited by Saulsmusic on Tue Aug 09, 2005 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Saulsmusic

Post by Saulsmusic » Tue Aug 09, 2005 6:15 pm

Felix Mendelssohn was asked by his foolish father to delete Mendelssohn and replace it with Bartholdy.His father's argument was that it was impossible to be a christian with the name Mendelssohn becouse it sounds and is known as a Jewish name.Felix refused and wanted to keep Mendelssohn.His father kept up the pressur,so Felix agreed only to add Bartholdy to Mendelssohn but not to Replace it.(I find it as a very striking move by Felix,He instinctivly felt that he was a Jew and wanted to keep his Jewish name even though he was raised as a gentile against his wishes).So after this Mendelssohn startet to sign his name as Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (This name is of latin origin,I think Italian and is of obvious gentile origin).But as everyone knows the converstion and the addition of a gentile name did not help Mendelssohn .He was regarded by all as a Jewish composer.He had Jewish features,he didnt look like a typical german.His Jewishness was the most obvious and famous secret that was known by everyone who knew,heard and assoiciated with him.His converstion didnt stop Carl Fredrich Zelter,His compostion teacher to tell Gothe upon showing his young 12 year student to the Poet "Let it be known that he is a son of a Jew but he is no Jew himself".This comment by Felix's teacher makes no sence.The main reason is becouse Abraham and Felix's "converstion" in technical terms was the same.They were both born as pure Jews and they both "Converted",So one cannot say that His father is a Jew and that he himself is not a Jew becouse they had the same convertion.
One could say that Abraham's convertion was even stronger becouse he was an adult and his convertion was consentual,the same cant be said about his little 4 year old son which didnt have any idea what was going on with him.
So Zelter,disclosed to Gothe that Felix is not a Jew which makes no sence from the reasons I stated above.A question should be asked.Why did Zelter told this to Gothe?
I could think of only one reason,that they both were antisemites who couldnt bare teaching a Jew with regards to Zelter,and hearing a Jew play music or befriedning a Jew,with Regards to Gothe.
Any one has other Ideas as to Why would Zelter Tell this to Gothe?

As I stated before,any of this "convertion" business has no power and is all void when it comes to Jewish law.Jewish law states that a Jew born to Jewish mother is a Jew forever.So this whole convertin thing is baseless and meaningless.

In truth,Mendelssohn was always regards as a Jewish composer and his meaningless convertion didnt save him from antisemites.Antisemites would always hate a Jew no matter how many times he "converts".I could even say that if one wants to buy respect and acceptance from people.He should be what he is and not change for no one.People respect you when you respect your history,tradtion,religion and your truthfulness.

Had Mendelssohn didnt convert and lived a Life as Jew,he would have been even more successful.
His Jewishness wouldnt be "A famous Secret" but it would have established his reputation as a real Man that is proud of his history and People.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:37 am

Felix Mendelssohn was my first "favorite" composer. His smooth and sophisticated style impressed me greatly: "Fingal's Cave" and the "Scottish" Symphony, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", etc.

Yet as my tastes matured, I found that most of his music lacked one ingredient I missed: struggle! Technically, his music is almost above criticism (rhythm was his greatest flaw) and his gentle and somewhat Weberian harmonies are charming and gracious, for he made them his own.

Since the late 19th century, there has been a tendency to belittle his works and reputation. I feel this is unwarranted. Although his style is often "easy-going" and occasionally a bit smug, his best music is imperishable: Violin Concerto, op. 64 (he has two!); the oratorios; the overtures; the "A Midsummer Night's Dream" music; the chamber works (esp. the string quartets).

He may not be a Beethoven, Schumann or Wagner among 19th century masters, but he is, however, true to himself and seldom if ever affected.

Perhaps if his life had been less pleasant, his personality less cheerful ("Felix" = happy) his genius less fluid, he would have been able to reach the greatest heights and depths of the human spirit.

Jack
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Saulsmusic

Post by Saulsmusic » Fri Aug 19, 2005 11:53 am

"Beethoven, Schumann or Wagner among 19th century masters"

Youre Kiddin rite?

Put Schumann,Beethoven and wagner together as one ,still they dont even come to Felix's little Toe.

Mendelssohn's Music and Genius is so much greater then these 'Masters' that its laughable to even say otherwise.

Regards,

Saul

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Post by Barry » Fri Aug 19, 2005 11:59 am

Saulsmusic wrote:"Beethoven, Schumann or Wagner among 19th century masters"

Youre Kiddin rite?

Put Schumann,Beethoven and wagner together as one ,still they dont even come to Felix's little Toe.

Mendelssohn's Music and Genius is so much greater then these 'Masters' that its laughable to even say otherwise.

Regards,

Saul
Some how I'm not surprised that you feel that way.

I happen to like Mendelssohn (he's probably one of my dozen or so favorite composers), but I'm not about to compare him (or anyone else) favorably to Beethoven.
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Post by BuKiNisT » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:03 pm

Saul, i would rather say that it's you who's laughable in your fanboy-ish escapades.

It is always nice to see someone admire a composer so much, but there's certainly no need to emphasise your idol's achievements by belittiling those of others. Especially to such a degree.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:07 pm

Barry Z wrote:I happen to like Mendelssohn (he's probably one of my dozen or so favorite composers), but I'm not about to compare him (or anyone else) favorably to Beethoven.
Perhaps because I am forcefed so many Beethoven syms on XM, Mendelssohn is much more interesting and imaginative, even cheerful, to me than Beethoven. True his chamber music is not overplayed, but boy I could do with another sym for the rest of my life.
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Post by jbuck919 » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:09 pm

Ralph wrote:I enjoy Mendelssohn's music greatly, including his symphonies and chamber works. But he was no Dittersdorf and about that I'm sure we won't have an argument.
No, we won't.
It's important to remember that true political anti-Semitism largely arises from the late nineteenth century. In Mendelssohn's time anti-Jewish sentiment was largely religiously-based with conversion an offered pathway for redemption and salvation.
Mendelssohn was like me except that he had talent. He was a stepchild of both the Englightenment and a characteristic pietism of his time.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Barry » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:21 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Barry Z wrote:I happen to like Mendelssohn (he's probably one of my dozen or so favorite composers), but I'm not about to compare him (or anyone else) favorably to Beethoven.
Perhaps because I am forcefed so many Beethoven syms on XM, Mendelssohn is much more interesting and imaginative, even cheerful, to me than Beethoven. True his chamber music is not overplayed, but boy I could do with another sym for the rest of my life.
I can appreciate your feelings. We all get tired of certain music and it's all subjective.

But to say other greats like Beethoven and Wagner don't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Mendelssohn is a bit far-fetched.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:29 pm

Barry Z wrote:I happen to like Mendelssohn (he's probably one of my dozen or so favorite composers), but I'm not about to compare him (or anyone else) favorably to Beethoven.
Perhaps because I am forcefed so many Beethoven syms on XM, Mendelssohn is much more interesting and imaginative, even cheerful, to me than Beethoven. True his chamber music is not overplayed, but boy I could do with another sym for the rest of my life.
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Post by Barry » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:31 pm

See my above response to John.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by jbuck919 » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:32 pm

Corlyss_D wrote: Perhaps because I am forcefed so many Beethoven syms on XM....
He only wrote nine, Corlyss.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Harvested Sorrow » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:40 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Barry Z wrote:I happen to like Mendelssohn (he's probably one of my dozen or so favorite composers), but I'm not about to compare him (or anyone else) favorably to Beethoven.
Perhaps because I am forcefed so many Beethoven syms on XM, Mendelssohn is much more interesting and imaginative, even cheerful, to me than Beethoven. True his chamber music is not overplayed, but boy I could do with another sym for the rest of my life.
You know the strange thing about XM? I seem to recall it containing three classical stations that were rather easy to switch between whenever you heard a piece you were sick of...

I'm just sayin'....
Last edited by Harvested Sorrow on Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:40 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote: Perhaps because I am forcefed so many Beethoven syms on XM....
He only wrote nine, Corlyss.
All the more frustrating. (Not like Haydn, although admittedly everyone is stuck on the last 10 and the 45th - the BBC Proms feed is cueing up the Drumroll even as we speak.) So they play the same ones, over, and over, and over, and over. Think of a tune that caught your attention in an ad. Pleasant and charming the first 9 or 10 times you heard it. The next 40, well, maybe you know it by heart now and would like to hear something else. The 100 times after that, well, now we're talking major annoying. And that doesn't even begin to touch on cell phone ring-tones based on the opening of the 5th and the Ode to Joy from the 9th.
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Post by Jack Kelso » Sun Aug 21, 2005 11:28 pm

Saulsmusic wrote:"Beethoven, Schumann or Wagner among 19th century masters"

Youre Kiddin rite?

Put Schumann,Beethoven and wagner together as one ,still they dont even come to Felix's little Toe.

Mendelssohn's Music and Genius is so much greater then these 'Masters' that its laughable to even say otherwise.

Regards,

Saul
Hi Saul,

I gather from your written e-mail that you are still quite young, and the composers I mentioned take a good deal of time to delve into. I would be interested in knowing whom (outside of Mendelssohn) you consider most pleasant to listen to.

In Mendelssohn's area of light, airy charm and sophisticated grace he is really almost alone in his special kind of greatness. If you enjoy this more cheerful music, you might be interested in trying Joachim Raff's symphonies....they show a lot of Mendelssohnian influence, are melodic and also not real "heavy" (like Beethoven, Schumann and Wagner!).

Good listening!

Best regards,
Jack
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Post by Dalibor » Mon Aug 22, 2005 12:21 pm

I didn't listen much of Mendelsson, but heared enough to say that he was one those who a bit puzzle me. I liked "Fingals Cave" and "Scotish symphony" the most, but not because of excitement that much but because of... fluidity, the very gentle progressions that never seem to bore you on repeated listenings. He had refined taste, never going for to much, and creating a very aural feeling, that can be compared to that of Brahms.

But I never found his work that can deeply shake you. He was somehow too... gentle. And his praised "Dream of the Summer Night" I didn't like too much. I wonder, how comes that composer who wasn't able to put that much passion in his music, is so praised? That is what I wonder, although I actually heared only his "Best Of" from Naxos. But found nothing strikingly original there; just very smooth music that creates great space.

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Post by Huckleberry » Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:12 am

In my thinking, Mendelssohn either had the enviable gift of sprezzatura or else actually created music effortlessly, little different from the way leaves flutter in a breeze. I suspect the latter.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of the most joyous compositions to have fallen upon my ears, and the Violin Concerto so beautiful that it breaks one's heart. (Was there no struggle in Mendelssohn's inner life? I suspect that there must have been.)

Huckle

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Post by MaestroDJS » Thu Aug 25, 2005 5:35 am

Mendelssohn was a fine composer, but recently I read a large collection of fascinating but often wrong-headed musical criticisms by George Bernard Shaw. He was one of the finest writers in the English language, but unfortunately Shaw heaped scorn upon Mendelssohn, and I don't think Mendelssohn has ever fully recovered from Shaw's attacks. (Shaw also highly praised some composers who are now forgotten.)

Mendelssohn may not have the great depth of some other composers, but his music is just so wonderfully inspired and crafted nonetheless. Besides, I need not storm the great heights and depths every time I listen to music. For a while I thought that Mendelssohn was a bit out of his league in his symphonies, but now I think that he was just right. As a chamber composer he was outstanding, and his Octet for Strings is only the most prominent of many superb works.

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BuKiNisT wrote:It is always nice to see someone admire a composer so much, but there's certainly no need to emphasise your idol's achievements by belittiling those of others. Especially to such a degree.
Agreed, and it becomes a symptom of the "methinks he doth protest too much" syndrome. Which is why I try never to do that. Sometimes when I write about little-known composers elsewhere on this forum, some readers infer that I necessarily belittle the great masters by omission, as in "You like Griffes? So what's wrong with Beethoven?" It reminds me of the time my father gave me two shirts for my birthday, and when I tried on one he asked, "So what's wrong with the other shirt?" :lol:

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Post by Guest » Thu Aug 25, 2005 7:38 am

[quote="MaestroDJS"]Mendelssohn was a fine composer, but recently I read a large collection of fascinating but often wrong-headed musical criticisms by George Bernard Shaw.
Dave

quote]

GBS was also also wrong-headed (and pig-headed) about orthographic reform. His "ghoti" = "fish" example has also made a deep impression on successive generations, but it has little to do with the structure or history of English.

As for Mendelssohn, perhaps connoisseurs are naturally suspicious of melodiousness (note the reaction of some to Tchaik), given the tastes of the populace, but experts with a good ear and sound theoretical knowledge aren't fooled that easily.

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Post by Guest » Thu Aug 25, 2005 7:47 am

I failed to log in, it seems. And between then and now, the system seems to have slowed down. Sorry :oops: . I'm trying to get used to posting. Huckle
MaestroDJS wrote:Mendelssohn was a fine composer, but recently I read a large collection of fascinating but often wrong-headed musical criticisms by George Bernard Shaw.
Dave
GBS was also also wrong-headed (and pig-headed) about orthographic reform. His "ghoti" = "fish" example has also made a deep impression on successive generations, but it has little to do with the structure or history of English.

As for Mendelssohn, perhaps connoisseurs are naturally suspicious of melodiousness (note the reaction of some to Tchaik), given the tastes of the populace, but experts with a good ear and sound theoretical knowledge aren't fooled that easily.

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Post by Febnyc » Thu Aug 25, 2005 3:22 pm

Ah - who cares which composer is better than which other one?

Just listen to the marvelous Dame Judi Dench narrating Mendelssohn's marvelous A Midsummer Night's Dream (Deutsche Grammophon) and all the silly posts above become pale.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:14 am

Febnyc wrote:Ah - who cares which composer is better than which other one?
I prefer not using the term "better", since that is so subjective. The terms "deeply expressive", "more rhythmic", "colorful in instrumentation", etc. are more to the point when discussing a composer and his works.

For example, Mendelssohn is an "efficient" and occasionally poetic orchestrator, rhythmically weaker than most other masters, but very fluid in melody and harmony. Structurally, he is more solid in his chamber works than in his symphonies. His string quartets are regarded by many as the most idiomatically-written since the time of Beethoven (no slight to Schubert, Schumann and Brahms intended!), but Felix learned string writing very, very early and well. Content is, of course, another theme.

Thus, discussion is relevant in order to understand the strong and weak points of any composer's style (and they ALL had them both since they were, after all, only human beings).

It would be a mistake to say that Mendelssohn was "deeper" than Beethoven or Schumann; more "dynamic" than Wagner; more "philosophical" than Bruckner or Mahler; or more "expressive" in choral writing than Handel. Still, it would be difficult to find a more charming, cheerfully attractive or graceful master than Felix Mendelssohn!

Best regards,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

herman
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Post by herman » Wed Sep 07, 2005 9:59 am

I have been listening to Mendelssohn's f major and F minor violin / piano sonatas lately, by Ivan Zenaty and Josef Hala (Supraphon), and I think these are wonderful pieces, the F major composed in 1838 and the other in 1826, when the composer was only 17 years old.

There aren't that many good sets of violin / piano sonatas after the devastation that Beethoven wrought (Schubert, for instance, refrained), and Mendelssohn's are among the better ones.

Ted

Post by Ted » Wed Sep 07, 2005 12:21 pm

To start a discussion about Mendelssohn or any other composer by mentioning religious affiliations is tantamount to nominating Babe Ruth to Cooperstown by virtue of his baseball card collection
Op. 19 No 6 and Op. 19 No. 4, String Quartet in A Minor Symphony No.10—my faves

Ted

Post by Ted » Wed Sep 07, 2005 12:24 pm

Herman wrote: I have been listening to Mendelssohn's f major and F minor violin / piano sonatas lately,

I am gratified to see that there are indeed areas in which you and I agree wholeheartedly
t

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Post by herman » Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:01 pm

Oh, Ted, I love Mendelssohn's String Quartets, too. So we agree in most matters of any importance.

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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:17 pm

I don't know why all this praise is being heaped on a composer who didn't write his first masterpiece until he was sixteen. :)

In fact, Mendelssohn is a case of a very great composer who never stopped writing non-masterpieces mixed up with the good stuff (the organ sonatas, though they have their moments, are a good example). He is not an unalloyed treasure trove. That does not mean that anyone here has chosen to like the "wrong" compositions--far from it, though I can't agree with Lance's assessment that Elijah is superior to Messiah (that is almost like saying the Dream of Gerontius is superior to the Creation). But I think it is worth remembering that sometimes we have to pick and choose among a composer's works to find the true treasures, and not every composer has a cutoff point of K 400 or whatever.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Ted

Post by Ted » Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:34 pm

Herman Wrote: So we agree in most matters of any importance.
I concur yet again!

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Sep 07, 2005 11:48 pm

herman wrote:
There aren't that many good sets of violin / piano sonatas after the devastation that Beethoven wrought (Schubert, for instance, refrained), and Mendelssohn's are among the better ones.
I guess it depends on what you're looking for. After Beethoven's "devastation", the Schumann violin sonatas opus 105 and 121 are generally regarded as the "most important" of that genre. But if the Beethoven "Kreutzer" Sonata doesn't speak its power and glory to you, then I'm sure the Schumann works won't either: they are just too irritatingly magnificent.

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by herman » Thu Sep 08, 2005 2:07 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
herman wrote:
There aren't that many good sets of violin / piano sonatas after the devastation that Beethoven wrought (Schubert, for instance, refrained), and Mendelssohn's are among the better ones.
I guess it depends on what you're looking for. After Beethoven's "devastation", the Schumann violin sonatas opus 105 and 121 are generally regarded as the "most important" of that genre. But if the Beethoven "Kreutzer" Sonata doesn't speak its power and glory to you, then I'm sure the Schumann works won't either: they are just too irritatingly magnificent.
Uh, I'm fairly sure I have posted once or twice about the Schumann violin sonatas on CMG. I believe I alerted you to Schumann's 2nd sonata, which is by many believed to be not as good as the first, but I think the first mvt is stunningly intense.

They do come after the Mendelssohn sonatas in time, however.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Sep 08, 2005 2:31 am

Yes, Herman....it was you who rekindled my interest in the 2nd Sonata. Now, I would say that they are as equal to each other as Beethoven's 3rd and 5th Symphonies----both great, just different....not just the 1st mvt of the 2nd! (But I agree the 2nd is a tougher piece to learn well.)

To be fair to Mendelssohn, his conservative upbringing did not instill in his nature the desire to compose disruptive music....but one can still hear the echoes of Beethoven, Spohr and Weber.. three masters whom Mendelssohn greatly admired and tirelessly promoted.

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Charles » Sat Sep 10, 2005 10:31 pm

Some asides:

When Mendelssohn fostered the Bach revival, he may actually have saved Bach's music from permanent oblivion, a fate for Western culture too dire to even contemplate.

Mendelssohn's sister Fanny was a talented composer also, and badly wanted to be one. Felix discouraged her, telling her this was no occupation for a woman. That members of the gentle sex should occupy themselves with home and family. She followed his advice. I have heard some of her piano music and liked it quite a lot. He did her a vast disservice by discouraging her.

As the foremost Jewish composer of the era, Mendelssohn was the special polemical target of the venemous antisemite Wagner.

Felix means not only happy but more specifically lucky. Lucky not only in his musical gifts, but in that he fostered the Bach revival so that we can forgive him for suppressing his sister's talent.

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Post by herman » Sun Sep 11, 2005 2:12 pm

Charles wrote:Some asides:
Felix means not only happy but more specifically lucky. Lucky not only in his musical gifts, but in that he fostered the Bach revival so that we can forgive him for suppressing his sister's talent.
However the primary meaning of the Latin "felix" is "prolific," "productive", "fruitful" (happy beings are prolific), and that would certinly be apt in the case of Mendelssohn.

There is always much misunderstanding about these words. The decl of ind "pursuit of happiness" is another case in point.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Sun Sep 11, 2005 11:43 pm

Charles wrote:Some asides:

When Mendelssohn fostered the Bach revival, he may actually have saved Bach's music from permanent oblivion, a fate for Western culture too dire to even contemplate.
Mendelssohn and Schumann both played a great role in popularizing J.S. Bach's works, but the music of the old Master was by no means threatened with oblivion: Mozart was quite of fan of his music, and Beethoven has several passages (incl. the 6th Symphony) which show Bach influence. Bach was not unknown, just underestimated.

Later, Brahms, Reger and Hindemith also showed that, as Schumann wrote, "Bach is your daily bread", a diet in this direction can reap wonderful rewards.

Best,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Charles » Mon Sep 12, 2005 8:04 pm

herman wrote:
Charles wrote:Some asides:
Felix means not only happy but more specifically lucky. Lucky not only in his musical gifts, but in that he fostered the Bach revival so that we can forgive him for suppressing his sister's talent.
However the primary meaning of the Latin "felix" is "prolific," "productive", "fruitful" (happy beings are prolific), and that would certinly be apt in the case of Mendelssohn.

There is always much misunderstanding about these words. The decl of ind "pursuit of happiness" is another case in point.
I've looked up the Latin word 'felix' in three online Latin-English dictionaries, and 'lucky' or 'fortunate' comes in as an important meaning in each case. The only word which appears consistently more prominently is 'happy.'

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Post by Charles » Mon Sep 12, 2005 8:14 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:
Charles wrote:Some asides:

When Mendelssohn fostered the Bach revival, he may actually have saved Bach's music from permanent oblivion, a fate for Western culture too dire to even contemplate.
Mendelssohn and Schumann both played a great role in popularizing J.S. Bach's works, but the music of the old Master was by no means threatened with oblivion: Mozart was quite of fan of his music, and Beethoven has several passages (incl. the 6th Symphony) which show Bach influence. Bach was not unknown, just underestimated.

Later, Brahms, Reger and Hindemith also showed that, as Schumann wrote, "Bach is your daily bread", a diet in this direction can reap wonderful rewards.

Best,
Jack
Bach was known to the late 18th and early 19th centuries primarily for a few pedagogic keyboard books such as The Well-Tempered Clavier. Mozart and Beethoven had almost no access to his other works, not being scholars and having no time for ferreting them out. They pounced on the odd one when they came across it, which wasn't often at all. They had no idea of the vastness and scope of the body of his work. I still think there's a good chance that without Mendelssohn's hard work, Bach might have remained a pedagogue with two or three collections of keyboard excercises to his credit, and perhaps gradually over time might have faded out completely.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Sep 12, 2005 11:19 pm

Although it might have taken a few more decades, some modern musicologist eventually would have unearthed the cantatas and concerti, as well as the larger choral works of Bach.

Look at the case of Telemann. Less than fifty years ago there were just about no recordings of his music. Now you can find lots of them in any decent store or on the internet. Of course, the works of Telemann are generally quite routine when compared with Handel or Bach, but then so are many of Vivaldi's...and look how popular he's become just through "The Four Seasons"!

But back to Mendelssohn: just this morning I heard on the radio his 1st String Symphony. His ability in writing for this ensemble was marvelous!

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by herman » Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:26 am

Charles wrote:I've looked up the Latin word 'felix' in three online Latin-English dictionaries, and 'lucky' or 'fortunate' comes in as an important meaning in each case. The only word which appears consistently more prominently is 'happy.'
I didn't use any on-line dictionaries; I have an advanced degree in Latin. One of the first things you learn as you study a language is you need to know about language before using a dictionary.

Felix comes from the same *fe root as fecund.

Cats, latin name felis, aren't called that way because they are happy, or lucky (having 9 lives), but because of the way they breed.

The `"happy" and "lucky" meanings, that have become more common over time both follow from the original meaning.

I do however agree with your stuff about Bach accessibility. Mozart only found out about J.S. Bach when he was in the late K300s, when he had access to Baron von Swieten's library. Before, the Bachs he knew were JSB's sons.

Beethoven is a different matter of course: this is twenty years later. Things moved fast at that time.

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Post by Gary » Tue Sep 13, 2005 3:25 am

I didn't use any on-line dictionaries; I have an advanced degree in Latin. One of the first things you learn as you study a language is you need to know about language before using a dictionary.

Felix comes from the same *fe root as fecund.

Charles,

As one who has a (retreated) degree (just a BA) in Latin, I'd have to say that Herman is correct. "Productive" and "fruitful" are the more literal meanings. But in all probability, Mendelssohn was named "Felix" to mean "happy" or "lucky". That's just my opinion.
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