Characteristics of Mendelssohn's Piano Style and its Performance Aspects
Keywordslecture recital document
Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix, 1809-1847--Criticism and interpretation
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe reputation of Mendelssohn's music has suffered more than that of most major composers of his era from the vicissitudes of musical taste. From the beginning, the general public felt drawn to his simple lyricism and vitality, expressed within clearly ordered, easily understandable musical structures. Performers and critics at first responded with the same warm enthusiasm, but later became caught up in sweeping changes of musical style and in political propaganda which denounced Mendelssohn's work for non-musical reasons. Until recently his music has rarely received an objective evaluation. During his lifetime his music was received with almost universal acclaim. To the public, even to the most conservative elements of Victorian society, it had an immediate emotional appeal, while professional musician appreciated his polished craftsmanship. Performances of his works were greeted with the eager excitement described in the following London Times review of the oratorio Elijah: "It was as if enthusiasm, long checked, had suddenly burst its bonds and filled the air with shouts of exultation." His friend and colleague Robert Schumann called him a "god among men," and described him thus: "He is the Mozart of the nineteenth century, the brightest musician who most clearly fathoms, and then reconciles the contradictions of our time -- classicism and romanticism." In another comment, Schumann pays tribute to the ease and elegance of his compositional technique: "Mendelssohn I consider the first musician of this day...He plays with everything, especially with the grouping of the instruments in the orchestra, but with such ease, delicacy and art, and with such mastery throughout."
Degree ProgramGraduate College