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Mendelssohn: A Life in Music by R. Larry Todd (Oxford University Press) 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works (termed by one critic "moonlight with sugar water"), Todd reexamines the composer's entire oeuvre, including many unpublished and little known works.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.

Excerpt: In the one hundred and fifty-six years since the composer's death in 1847, history has rediscovered Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy numerous times, with radically different results. Etched into our collective musical consciousness are several vivid images of the man and musician. He was a prodigious polymath/polyglot whose intellectual horizons-embracing music, drawing, painting, poetry, classical studies, and theology-were second to none among the "great" composers, and whose musical precoc­ity, not just in composition but also conducting, piano and organ, violin and viola, was rivaled only by Mozart. Mendelssohn was among the first conductors to adopt the baton and to develop systematic rehearsal tech­niques that advanced the fledgling art of conducting as an independent discipline. He ranked among the very foremost piano virtuosi of his time and performed feats of extemporization legendary already during his life­time; in addition, he was probably the most distinguished organist of the century. He was the "prime mover" in the Bach Revival, the stimulating agent behind the posthumous canonization of the Thomaskantor. Men­delssohn was the restorer of the oratorio, who produced two examples judged worthy of Handel: St. Paul (1836), which scored early interna­tional successes in Germany, England, Denmark, Holland, Poland, Rus­sia, Switzerland, and the United States; and, second only to Handel's Messiah, Elijah (1846), premiered in Birmingham, England, and performed at every triennial musical festival there until the demise of the institution at the outbreak of World War I) Mendelssohn was a versatile, craftsmanlike composer whose work effortlessly mediated between the poles of classi­cism and romanticism, and he convinced Robert Schumann to label him the Mozart of the nineteenth century. Mendelssohn composed several undisputed masterpieces still in the standard repertoire-the Octet and

Midsummer Night's Dream Overture (created when he was sixteen and seventeen), the hauntingly ineffable Hebrides Overture and radiant Ital­ian Symphony, and the Violin Concerto, the elegiac opening theme of which spawned several imitations.

But balancing these appraisals are commonplaces of a different cast. Mendelssohn was a musician whose delicate "parlor-room" Lieder ohne Worte betrayed a proclivity toward the saccharine, whose exploration of a diaphanous musical fairyland in the Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, the Scherzo of the Octet and other works revealed a sentimental, effeminate nature. He was a composer of conservative tastes in pre-Revolution Ger­many who relied excessively on rhythmically predictable melodies with square-cut, symmetrical phrases. His treatment of harmony and tonality offered few innovations. By and large he adhered to classical blueprints and traditional, academic counterpoint, and was by nature a "dry" for­malist. His Bach obsession led Mendelssohn, in Berlioz's view, to be too fond of the music of the dead. In the final analysis, Mendelssohn's music evinced a "pretty" elegance and superficiality that could not withstand the weightier "profundity" of Beethoven and Wagner, between whom the winsome Mendelssohn interloped as a "beautiful interlude" (schoner Zwischenfall) in nineteenth-century music.

Of the major Western canonical composers, Mendelssohn's posthu­mous reception traced an especially wayward, volatile course, subject to the pendulum swings of musical fashion. In contrast to Austro-German musicians such as J. S. Bach, Schubert, Robert Schumann, and Bruckner, whose posthumous careers described ascending courses toward recog­nized "greatness," Felix was canonized by his contemporaries during his lifetime, when, as the preeminent German composer of the 1830s and 1840s, he dominated a German-English musical axis connecting Leipzig and London. After his unexpected death at age thirty-eight, his reputa­tion suffered two seemingly irremediable blows, first from Richard Wagner's anti-Semitic critique at mid-century, then from the reaction against the Victorian age near the turn to the twentieth century. As a I composer of Jewish descent and an intimate of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Felix proved an irresistible target; his stature diminished rapidly, so that through much of the twentieth century there was little doubt that, his versatile talents notwithstanding, he had not attained the level of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, or Wagner.

And so, a hundred years after a lionized Mendelssohn had mixed freely among the European cultured elite, the Nazis summarily de-canonized the composer and banned his music. By 1934 German performances of Mendelssohn were nearly fleeting memories. On the night of November 9,1936, the composer's statue, installed before the Leipzig Gewandhaus

in 1892 by Werner Stein, was torn down and replaced by flowerbeds. Sir Thomas Beecham, touring in Leipzig with the London Philharmonic, had visited the site the day before and returned with a delegation of musicians to lay a wreath, only to encounter the eerie absence of the statue .3 Two years later, at the end of 1938, the Mendelssohn firm, for generations a preeminent German banking house and symbol of the family prestige, was liquidated. The Nazis' attempts to destroy Mendelssohn's legacy, though ruthless and thorough, were not completely suc­cessful. Thus, the popular incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, commonly used in German productions of the play, proved diffi­cult to extirpate. When, in 1934, Party officials approached several "Aryan" composers to write new music for the play, Richard Strauss,' Hans Pfitzner, and Werner Egk refused, and Carl Orffdels attempt in 1938 to produce a score that spared his listeners Mendelssohn's "moonlight with sugar water" ultimately failed; in 1944, an Allied bombing raid destroyed the opera house in Frankfurt where it was to have had its premiere. Mean­while, the émigré Austrian composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold had ar­rived in Hollywood in 1934 to work on the score for Max Reinhardt's film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), featuring remark­able special effects for the elves and a singular cast with Mickey Rooney as Puck, James Cagney as Bottom, and Olivia de Haviland as Hermia. Korngold drew heavily upon Mendelssohn's own overture and inciden­tal music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, and he supplemented these obvious sources with liberal quotations from Mendelssohn's other works to produce a cinematic celebration of his music. Korngold averred that Mendelssohn would outlive Hitler.

Still, even in English-speaking realms, a good bit of twentieth century discourse about Mendelssohn reflected distinctly negative judg­ments. Thus, in 1938 Gerald Abraham de-legitimized Mendelssohn's oeuvre as a "shady half-brotherhood of romanticism and neoclassicism," and found the Scottish Symphony to symbolize "only too well the course of its composer's career: the brief touch of inspired romanticism at the beginning followed by a dreary waste of mere sound-manipulation, relieved only by the oasis of the light-handed scherzo, and ending in a blaze of sham triumph:'' Philip Radcliffé's 1954 biography, on the whole a sym­pathetic account of the composer, still labored under the encumbered criti­cal reaction against Mendelssohn-thus we read that a theme from the Reformation Symphony is "spoilt by a touch of self-consciousness," there is little in Ruy Blas "that can be called tragic at all," the songs are "liable to cloy in too large quantities," Saul's rage aria in St. Paul leaves "an im­pression of rather ineffectual bluster," and Elijah is only "worthy at least of respect and sometimes of more." Even Eric Weiner's substantial 1963 biography, a major post-World War TI effort to rehabilitate the composer's image, occasionally repeated the familiar criticisms. For Werner, St. Paul was stylistically so uneven that "probably only parts of it can be rescued for the concert hall or for church music"; the Ruy Blas

Overture "scarcely sounds the tragic note"; and the Second Piano Con­certo is "hardly worthy of [Mendelssohn's] name' but perilously close to the "French salon composers" he despised.' It is, as Leon Botstein has noted perceptively, "as if the aesthetic of Wagnerian criticism, shorn of its evident political and racist content, still reigns' Indeed, George R. Marek's biography of 1972, geared toward a popular audience, unwit­tingly perpetuated stereotypes of the composer as one who evinced mansuetude and effeminateness-notions that ultimately may trace their ancestry to Wagner's notorious 1850 critique-through the title, Gentle Genius: The Story of Felix Mendelssohn.

The unusual trajectory of the Mendelssohn reception-a high pla­teau reached during his lifetime and reinforced by a cult of hero wor­ship after his early death, then a vertiginous descent, and finally, in the latter twentieth century, rebounding efforts at rehabilitation-could form the subject of a separate monograph. A sketch of its outlines would be­gin with the demonstrably public outpouring of grief in Germany and abroad at his death in 1847 and the elaborate memorial ceremonies on a scale usually reserved for eminent figures of state, the position of honor accorded Mendelssohn's music at the concerts of the Crystal Palace" and the establishment in England of a Mendelssohn Scholarship in 1856, offering study abroad (especially at the Leipzig Conservatory), the first recipient of which was Arthur Sullivan. The monograph would continue with the remarkable process of idealization that crystallized in the mem­oirs of the composer's circle, including the two-volume account compiled from his letters by his nephew Sebastian Hensel, Die Familie Mendelssohn (1879)-still an indispensable basis of research-which remembered the Mendelssohns as an upstanding, fully assimilated, upper middle-class German family of the Vormarz, the post-Napoleonic period of political conservatism before the outbreak of revolution in March 1848.

Other accounts, notably the freely embroidered Erinnerungen (1868) of Elise Polko (nee Vogel), who sang for Mendelssohn in Leipzig during the 1840s, moved the genre of Mendelssohn biography into the realm of fiction, a process furthered by the unusually durable roman a clef of Eliza­beth Sara Sheppard, Charles Auchester (three volumes, 1853), which trans­formed Mendelssohn into Seraphael, a divinely inspired musician of "unperverted Hebrew ancestry" who dies at an early age and becomes a martyr to the cause of art." English (and American) readers willingly tolerated Sheppard's "frequently mawkish and febrile" prose, so that Charles Auchester remained in print well into the twentieth century."

Three years before its appearance, in a Germany seething with revo­lutionary ferment, a polemical article appeared in the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, the Leipzig journal Robert Schumann had founded in 1834. Attributed to Freigedank ("free thinker"), "Das Judenthum in der Musik" ("Judaism in Music") was written by Richard Wagner, who at mid-century hid behind a veil of anonymity to launch a scurrilous anti-Semitic dia­tribe against the Jewish element in German music." Because of his po­litical activities in Dresden during 1848, Wagner had fled to Switzerland, where the expatriate developed revolutionary essays about the future course of German music. Franz Brendel, the editor of the Neue Zeitschrift, who had replaced Schumann in 1845 and lectured in music history at the Leipzig Conservatory, somehow welcomed "Das Judenthum in der Musik" as consistent with the journal's new agendum-to promote the politi­cally "liberal," Neudeutsche "school" of Wagner and Liszt. Mendelssohn's music, now identified with the old political order, came in for heavy criticism. Brendel himself led the attack, though without overt reference to Mendelssohn's Jewishness, in an 1845 serial essay that compared him to Robert Schumann; Brendel found their music incongruent with the expectations of the new age-Mendelssohn's because of its conspicu­ously retrospective, formalist character."

This critique paled in comparison to Wagner's racist tirade, which opened with an elaboration of why the German people felt an instinc­tive revulsion to Jews, dismissed by Wagner as a foreign race, lacking its own legitimate language, that could survive only by superficially imitat­ing European art." Midway in the essay "the early departed" Mendelssohn was singled out: as the most visible figure of this process, he had aped the formal complexities of Bach's music, admittedly in the "most inter­esting and astonishing" way, but had failed to penetrate the "human" spirit of the most important modern composer, Beethoven. Mendelssohn, Wagner wrote, "has shown us that a Jew can possess the richest measure of specific talents, the most refined and varied culture, the loftiest, most tender sense of honor, without even once through all these advantages being able to bring forth in us that profound, heart-and-soul searching effect we expect from music...." Mendelssohn's music lacked originality and passion; it was, for all purposes, impotent.

While Wagner was planting the seeds of a virulent strain of Mendels­sohn reception, the British continued to celebrate the life and music of a composer who had visited London ten times between 1829 and 1847, and placed an indelible stamp on Victorian musical culture. In 1858 a state event occurred that legitimized his adoption as a Victorian. On January 25, the Princess Royal, Vicky, married Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia in the Chapel Royal of St. James's Place, to the strains of the Wedding March from the incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream. Composed in 1843 to celebrate the nuptials of Shakespeare's Theseus and Hippolyta, Mendelssohn's music now honored an English­German royal alliance and inaugurated a custom that would touch the lives of untold millions. Mendelssohn's delicate projection of musical fairyland in the other movements of his incidental music-his eleva­tion of the "fanciful" as an aesthetic category-may well have helped stimulate the vogue of Victorian fairy paintings and illustrations that began to take hold in the 1840s and endured until the early twentieth century, when Edwardian manners challenged the need for folklore and belief in the supernatural. A significant proportion of Victorian fairy images treated subjects drawn from or related to Shakespeare's play, given new resonance by the English premiere of Mendelssohn's music in 1844."

When, between 1879 and 1889, the first edition of Sir George Grove's landmark Dictionary of Music and Musicians appeared, Mendelssohn's place in English music history seemed secure. In addition to writing the entries for Beethoven and Schubert, Grove lavished on Mendelssohn a major article painstakingly researched in Berlin and Leipzig, where Grove interviewed family members and the composer's friends, and examined the autographs meticulously bound in the more than forty green vol­umes of what became the Mendelssohn Nachlass in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek. Grove's work set an unusually high standard for the musical scholarship of the time, and provided a firm foundation for Mendelssohn research. There is little doubt that in Grove's conception of the Euro­pean canon Mendelssohn occupied an honored position; yet Grove closed his article with this defense of the man, intended, it seems, for detractors who would accuse him of superficiality: "It is well in these agitated modern days to be able to point to one perfectly balanced na­ture, in whose life, whose letters, and whose music alike, all is at once manly and refined, clever and pure, brilliant and solid. For the enjoy­ment of such shining heights of goodness we may well forego for once the depths of misery and sorrow."

Nevertheless, by the closing decades of the nineteenth century in­creasingly disparaging English voices were being heard. Early in 1889l the new music critic of the London Star, George Bernard Shaw, later Wagner's apologist in The Perfect Wagnerite (1898), likened Mendelssohn to the musical Tennyson of the century and denied the composer great­ness of the first magnitude: "We now see plainly enough that Mendels­sohn, though he expressed himself in music with touching tenderness and refinement, and sometimes with a nobility and pure fire that makes all his kid glove gentility, his conventional sentimentality, and his despicable oratorio mongering, was not in the foremost rank of great composers. He was more intelligent than Schumann, as Tennyson is more intelligent than Browning: he is, indeed, the great composer of the century for all those to whom Tennyson is the great poet of the century."" Shaw revived Wagner's (and Brendel's) earlier line of attack, that Mendels­sohn was a pedantic formalist ("The fugue form is as dead as the sonata form; and the sonata form is as dead as Beethoven himself. Their dead­liness kills Mendelssohn's St. Paul and the `regular' movements in his symphonies and chamber music"). Shaw reinforced a view of Mendels­sohn as effeminate, which gained currency as the century came to a close, perhaps no more vividly than in Aubrey Beardsley's dainty caricature published in The Savoy in December 1896, in which the dandified com­poser appears with feminized curled hair and delicate shoes, and bran­dishes a plumed pen."

Apart from Wagner's venomous prose, probably nothing harmed Mendelssohn's posthumous reputation more than the early twentieth century critique of Victorianism. Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians (1918), which mercilessly discredited four late Victorians (Cardinal Man­ning, Florence Nightingale, General Gordon of Khartoum, and Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby), is often viewed as firing the opening sal­vos of this reaction. But, as Michael Mason has suggested, an "increas­ingly explicit distaste for the 1830s and 1840s was certainly a preparatory step, in the first decade or so of [the twentieth] century, towards full­fledged anti-Victorianism...." Samuel Butler's trenchant indictment of Victorian society, The Way of All Flesh (written between 1873 and 1885 but published posthumously in 1903) provoked a reexamination and rejection of earlier Victorian values-Butler targeted Mendelssohn in two chapters, including the final one, where Ernest Pontifex, professing not to like "modern" music, converses with Miss Skinner, whom he imag­ines says, "as though it were an epitaph: STAY / I MAY PRESENTLY TAKE / A SIMPLE CHORD OF BEETHOVEN / OR A SMALL SEMIQUAVER / FROM ONE OF MENDELSSOHN'S SONGS WITHOUT WORDS." It was an easy step to associate Mendelssohn with those Victorian attributes from which the new cen­tury tried to distance itself-shallowness, hypocrisy, prudishness, and all the rest. And so, by 1911, for the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Donald F. Tovey felt compelled to update the reprinted, eu­logizing Mendelssohn article from the tenth edition by W. S. Rockstro, a student of the composer in Leipzig during the 1840s, by noting that "Mendelssohn's reputation, except as the composer of a few inexplica­bly beautiful and original orchestral pieces, has vanished. ...'

The dual critiques of Wagner and the anti-Victorian reaction, which generated stereotypes about the composer that have proven difficult to dislodge, account for much of Mendelssohn's precipitous fall from grace. And yet, each critique readily betrays its flaws. In Wagner's case, the anti-Semitic bias is clear enough. If, for the sake of argument, we set aside his vituperative agendum-admittedly impossible, owing to his inextricable weaving of racist arguments into the criticism of Mendelssohn's music­what separated the two composers were two distinctly opposed worldviews. Wagner identified musical "progress" with the "absolute" revolutionary "triumph" of 1848 over the past and its obsolete political order, of course an event Mendelssohn did not live to see. In contrast, during the Vormarz, Mendelssohn developed what Leon Botstein has termed "an aesthetic of creative restoration; a search for historic models; a backward glance tem­pered by a modern taste for the subjective, emotional, poetic voice of romanticism." For Wagner the future of German music lay in the mu­sic drama, closely bound up with German nationalism and aspirations toward unification. He saw Mendelssohn, a member of an elite Jewish family, as belonging to the "antirevolutionary defenders and beneficia­ries of the pre-March social order who ... sought to falsify the past ... and prettify their surroundings and thereby deny the deeper political and social realities and national possibilities." In reality, despite his family's wealth, Mendelssohn was no blind supporter of Frederick Wil­liam IV's absolute monarchy but a liberal sympathetic to middle-of-the­road policies. There is little doubt that, like many of his countrymen, Mendelssohn yearned for reforms leading to a constitutional monarchy, even though his political views were doubtless not radical enough for Wagner. To invalidate Mendelssohn's music through a kind of political litmus test, to consign his music summarily to the dust heap of the pre­revolutionary German order, is prima facie problematic.

In a similar way, the idea of Mendelssohn as a superficial, effemi­nate Victorian cannot stand. In recent decades, our construction of the Victorians has been fundamentally challenged by fresh interpretations, including Peter Gay's The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud, and probing readings by Michael Mason (The Making of Victorian Sexuality, 1995) and, most recently, Matthew Sweet (Inventing the Victorians, 2001), who has thrown down a veritable cultural gauntlet: "Suppose that ev­erything we think we know about the Victorians is wrong. That, in the century which has elapsed since 19o1, we have misread their culture, their history, their lives-perhaps deliberately, in order to satisfy our sense of ourselves as liberated Moderns." In a systematic expose, Sweet debunks the familiar stereotypes about the Victorians that accumulated in the twentieth century. We can profitably extend his corrective to our forming, postmodern views of Mendelssohn. The tenacious idea of Mendels­sohn as an overly sentimental composer probably has more to do with layers of interpretations that accrued to his music and biography after his death than any intrinsic quality of his music. Thus, the piano miniatures that became celebrated in middle-class parlors as the "Songs without Words," the vast majority of which Mendelssohn published without spe­cific titles, acquired from their publishers in the second half of the nine­teenth century all manner of insipid titles-"Consolation," "May Breezes," and the like-titles that Mendelssohn never would have authorized but that ultimately reinforced the view of him as a purveyor of maudlin piano music.

The persistent idea of Mendelssohn as a genteel lightweight, whose refined music buckled beneath the dramatic cogency of Beethoven's or elephantine mass of Wagner's scores, also requires reassessment. We may yet realize that imposing a Beethovenian or Wagnerian yardstick on Mendelssohn does an injustice to his music. The essentially dramatic model of the Fifth Symphony and Wagner's revolutionary theories about music drama do not fit Mendelssohn's music, but not because of its intrin­sic inferiority. It is not that Mendelssohn could not write dramatic music­stretches of St. Paul, Elijah, and the cantata Die erste Walpurgisnacht prove otherwise. Rather, Mendelssohn's aesthetic was broad enough to admit other models as viable avenues of exploration. Several of his scores­the Hebrides and Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage Overtures, the Italian and Scottish Symphonies, for example-seem inspired more by a synaesthetic blending of the visual and musical, and by highlighting the painterly attributes of music than by elucidating a dramatic narrative. Mendelssohn excelled in understatement, chiaroscuro, and nuance, and in subtle, coloristic orchestration that lent his scores an undeniable fresh­ness and vividness. And as for Mendelssohn's "excessive" reliance on his­tory, his music concerns exploring the continuity of the European musical tradition more than celebrating its rupture. As a result, Mendelssohn's music constantly mediates between the past and present: his revival of Bach and Handel---and his attempt to reconcile the classic-romantic di­chotomy by overlaying onto richly expressive music the classical attributes of poise, balance, and clarity-has much to do with restoring and pre­serving, in an age Schumann decried for its philistinism, timeless values drawn from the exemplars of the past.

Of the later twentieth-century efforts to rehabilitate Mendelssohn's image, the first serious attempt came in 1963, with the publication of Eric Werner's Mendelssohn: A New Image of the Composer and His Age. Werner was among the first to consult a wealth of unpublished manu­scripts and documents unavailable to earlier biographers, including the family correspondence (now in the New York Public Library), some of which had appeared in abridged form in Hensel's Die Familie Mendels­sohn, and in volumes edited by the composer's brother Paul and son Carl. With memories of the Holocaust still fresh, Werner was in part con­cerned with exploring Mendelssohn's identity as a Jewish musician and awareness of his Jewish heritage. Now, as Jeffrey Sposato has recently docu­mented, it appears that Werner exaggerated, indeed falsified, some evi­dence, and that Mendelssohn, who was baptized as a Protestant at age seven, remained throughout his career a devoutly practicing Lutheran---that he willingly paid, as it were, the "price of assimilation."" However one may judge Wernery;s scholarship, he did a great service by raising the question of identity, at the center of a nexus of problems confronting every biographer of the composer. As a member of a Jewish family that had "successfully" entered Prussian society, Mendelssohn would have been reminded of how the search for identity-spiritual, social, politi­cal, and aesthetic-was the critical issue affecting his life. Whether in retrospect we regard Mendelssohn as an "assimilated" German Jew who fully embraced Protestantism or who viewed his Christian faith as a "syncretic" "universalization of Judaism," as Leon Botstein has proposed, we must begin to realize the significance of the composer's own project of assimilation, of finding common ground between his adopted faith and the rationalist Judaism of his grandfather, Moses Mendelssohn.

There is another issue in Mendelssohn reception that has come to the fore in recent decades-his relationship with his sister, Fanny Hensel, herself a musical prodigy and composer of several hundred works. While Felix enjoyed an extraordinary international, highly visible career, Fanny's musical sphere was limited primarily to the musical salon she kept at the Mendelssohn residence in Berlin, a gathering place for many musicians of note but one segregated from public view. While Felix produced mu­sic for public consumption, Fanny composed in the smaller forms for her intimate circle of friends. Finally, and most controversially, while Felix's authorship was widely celebrated, Fanny's authorship was sup­pressed until late in her life, when she began cautiously to bring out her songs and piano miniatures in Lied ohne Worte style. Felix's early publication of six of her songs under his own name has prompted no small amount of feminist indignation about his motives and "paternalistic" attitudes toward his sister." The evidence suggests, though, as Nancy Reich has observed, that Fanny's "suppression" was as much an issue of class as gender-whereas the middle-class Clara Wieck/Schumann could pursue a professional career as pianist and composer, Berlin society in general did not permit ladies of leisure to do so. Still, the burgeoning, late twentieth-century revival of interest in Fanny Hensel has reclaimed from obscurity a remarkably talented composer whose music demands fresh consideration. Throughout this biography, I have attempted to bring into focus the parallel lives of the siblings and the "public-private" di­chotomy that regulated their musical outlets. I have chosen to include Fanny's music, ignored in earlier Mendelssohn biographies, not only because of the light it sheds on the work of her brother but also because of its own merits.

For one buffeted by the inexorable swings of musical fashion, the posthumous Mendelssohn has proven a cooperative subject for a new biography. Now available to the scholar investigating his life and work is a staggering amount of primary source material, encompassing auto­graph manuscripts, sketches, diaries, letters, paintings, drawings, accounts, concert programs, and countless other documents. One can examine Mendelssohn's honeymoon diary, his school notebooks, his assessments of students in the Leipzig Conservatory, not to mention the sketches and autograph drafts of his major works, and documents revealing the evolution of the libretti of his oratorios. Scarcely a few months elapse without a "new" Mendelssohn letter or manuscript appearing on the auction block. The composer himself preserved his manuscripts and thousands of letters of his incoming correspondence in bound volumes, as if to save the record of his life's work for future scholarly inquiry. . Today, sizable deposits of Mendelssohniana survive in Berlin, Leipzig, Ox­ford, Krakow, New York, and Washington, D.C., with smaller collections scattered among libraries ranging from Stockholm to Aberystwyth to Jerusalem, from Melbourne to Tokyo to St. Petersburg. Scholars are on the trail of several lost works that may yet appear." I have relied heavily upon primary sources and have tried to cling to the facts they divulge about the composer Robert Schumann called the "unforgettable" one." And I have written this biography convinced that the record of Mendelssohn's life, more than anything else, will assist us in peeling away those layers of his reception that have revealed more about how succeeding gen­erations canonize and de-canonize composers than about Mendelssohn himself. In 2003, it is still possible to concur with Friedrich Niecks, who in 1875 concluded his estimation of the composer thus: "Art is wide, there is room for all that are true to her, for all that serve her, not themselves. Such an artist was Mendelssohn. Therefore-honor to him!"

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