Thursday, February 19, 2009

The New Yorker on Mendelssohn

By far the most enjoyable article I've read about Mendelssohn so far in this, his bicentenary year, was in today's New Yorker online, written by Alex Ross, whose blog, The Rest is Noise, you'll notice in my sidebar (under music blogs):

“He never lost control of himself,” Wagner once said of Mendelssohn. The fundamental problem for so many Romantically inclined listeners was that Mendelssohn had no interest in what the scholar Peter Mercer-Taylor has called “unchecked personal self-expression.” Instead, his oratorios, choruses, glees, and parlor songs were intended to foster fellow-feeling and to serve as an aesthetic model for the upright life. In this, he succeeded triumphantly; there are still Mendelssohn Clubs—community choruses and singing societies—in cities across America. The challenge for contemporary performers is to tease out the complexity that dwells below a deceptively well-bred surface.

Read the rest of the article here. Illustration: Andrè Carrilho

And from this article I now have a biography to read--Mendelssohn: a Life in Music, by R. Larry Todd.

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