Mendelssohn: A Life in Music

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music

by R. Larry Todd
     
 

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

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Overview

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works (termed by one critic "moonlight with sugar water"), Todd reexamines the composer's entire oeuvre, including many unpublished and little known works.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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195179880
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/01/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
736
Sales rank:
728,103
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 6.10(h) x 2.10(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Genealogical Tree of the Itzig and Mendelssohn Families
Map: Principal Sites of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy's Travels
Preface
Prologue: Porcelain Monkeys and Family Identities1
1In Nebel und Nacht: Hamburg to Berlin (1809-1819)27
2Apprenticed Prodigy (1820-1821)52
3The Second Mozart (1821-1822)79
4From Apprentice to Journeyman (1823-1824)109
5The Prodigy's Voice (1825-1826)136
6In the Public Eye (1827-1829)166
7Amateur Gentleman (1829)201
8Wanderlust (1830-1832)223
9Dusseldorf Beginnings (1832-1835)264
10The Apostle's Voice (1835-1837)306
11Musical Biedermeier (1837-1839)347
12Leipzig vs. Berlin (1840-1841)387
13From Kapellmeister to Generalmusikdirektor (1841-1842)418
14Portrait of a Prussian Musician (1843-1844)447
15The Noon of Fame: Years of Triumph (1844-1846)485
16The Prophet's Voice: Elijah's Chariot (1846-1847)525
Abbreviations571
Notes573
Bibliography629
Index of Mendelssohn's Works645
General Index653

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