Mendelssohn, the Organ, and the Music of the Past

Mendelssohn, the Organ, and the Music of the Past

Constructing Historical Legacies

Edited by Jürgen Thym


University of Rochester Press



Examines Mendelssohn's relationship to the past, shedding light on the construction of historical legacies that, in some cases, served to assert German cultural supremacy only two decades after the composer's death.
By upbringing, family connections, and education, Felix Mendelssohn was ideally positioned to contribute to the historical legacies of the German people, who in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars discovered that they were a nation with a distinct culture. The number of cultural icons of German nationalism that Mendelssohn "discovered," promoted, or was asked to promote (by way of commissions) in his compositions is striking: Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press, Dürer and Nuremberg, Luther and the Augsburg Confession as the manifesto of Protestantism, Bach and the St. Matthew Passion, Beethoven and his claims to universal brotherhood.
The essays in this volume investigate from a variety of perspectives Mendelssohn's relationship to the music of the past, including the significance of Bach's music for the Mendelssohn family, the homages to Bach in Mendelssohn's organ compositions, the influence of Beethoven in the Reformation Symphony, and Mendelssohn's reception and use of Handel's oratorios. Together, the essays shed light on the construction of legacies that, in some cases, served to assert German cultural supremacy only two decades after the composer's death in 1847.

Contributors: Celia Applegate, John Michael Cooper, Hans Davidsson, Wm. A. Little, Peter Mercer-Taylor, Siegwart Reichwald, Glenn Stanley, Russell Stinson, Benedict Taylor, Nicholas Thistlethwaite, Jürgen Thym, R. Larry Todd, Christoph Wolff

Jürgen Thym is professor emeritus of musicology at the Eastman School of Music and editor of Of Poetry and Song: Approaches to the Nineteenth-Century Lied (University of Rochester Press, 2010).


December 2014
11 black and white, 31 line illustrations
350 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580464741
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, MUS050000, MUS023030
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Of Statues and Monuments
Mendelssohn and the Contrapuntal Tradition
Mendelssohn and the Catholic Tradition: Roman Influences on His Kirchen-Musik, Op. 23 and Drei Motetten, Op. 39
Mendelssohn and the Legacy of Beethoven's Ninth: Vocality in the "Reformation" Symphony
Mendelssohn and the Organ
Some Observations on Mendelssohn's Bach Recital
"He Ought to Have a Statue" : Mendelssohn, Gauntlett, and the English Organ Reform
Mendelssohn's Sonatas, Op. 65, and the Craighead-Saunders Organ at the Eastman School of Music: Aspects of Performance Practice and Context
The Bach Tradition among the Mendelssohn Ancestry
Music History as Sermon: Style, Form, and Narrative in Mendelssohn's "Dürer" Cantata (1828)
Mendelssohn's "Authentic" Handel in Context: German Approaches to Translation and Art and Architectural Restoration in the Early Nineteenth Century
Beyond the Ethical and Aesthetic: On Reconciling Religious Art with Secular Art-Religion in Mendelssohn's "Lobgesang"
Mendelssohn's Religious Worlds: Currents and Crosscurrents of Protestantism in Nineteenth-Century Germany and Great Britain
List of Contributors


Breathtaking in its erudition and thoroughness. Though particularly of use to organists . . . this volume reflects the sort of full-orbed consideration of music that musicologists prize, music studied in terms of analysis, cultural history, and contemporary context. An excellent addition to academic music libraries as well as the private collections of musicologists. MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NOTES

An engaging and important collection of studies for anyone interested in Mendelssohn and his music. Jürgen Thym's Introduction "Of Statues and Monuments" eloquently sets the scene. The reader will find many interconnections between the separate essays. Hans Davidsson's . . . sections on registration, style and phrasing offer fresh insights on the interpretation of the sonatas. ORGAN AUSTRALIA (Bruce Steele)

(The chapters) illuminate and expand ideas of Mendelssohn's place as a composer, performer, and ultimately caretaker of musical history. (Davidsson's chapter,) a substantial look at Opus 65 in historical context, performance, and registrations (is) alone worth the price of the volume. This book displays the important of (Mendelssohn's) legacy in a new light. It should be on every musician's shelf. Highly recommended. JOURNAL OF THE ASSOCIATION OF ANGLICAN MUSICIANS (Erik W. Goldstrom)

An excellent compilation of (previously unpublished) essays on Mendelssohn, where his life and work are explored as well as his role in the recovery and preservation of musical traditions of the past from a musicological point of view. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the work is its possible practical application, which is very evident in the extensive chapter (by Hans Davidsson) on the organ. Interesting connections are created between chapters, with some anticipating topics that are later developed further. DOCE NOTAS

Mendelssohn, the Organ, and the Music of the Past brings together papers by a group of centrally important scholars. The book offers a diverse spread of topics covering background history, biography, and repertoire, employing a nice variety of approaches. These essays open up new areas for further work. --Douglass Seaton, Warren D. Allen Professor of Music, Florida State University

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