Keywordslecture recital document
Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix, 1809-1847--Criticism and interpretation
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractFelix Mendelssohn was a many-faceted individual. While known now primarily as a composer, in his time he was also important as a virtuoso pianist and conductor. His contribution to the musical life of his time and to posterity is significant. As well as composing for nearly every genre (see Table 1) Mendelssohn was a popular soloist and dominated German conducting from 1830 until his death in 1847. Over the years his popularity has waxed and waned. The works of Mendelssohn were highly regarded during his lifetime and remained popular until about 1900. Around 1900, however, there was a major shift in opinion. At this time, his music was considered to be mediocre. The rise of anti-Semitism in Germany during the twentieth century caused a further underrating of Mendelssohn's music in his homeland. It is hoped that this, and other present-day studies, will offer a more objective view of his music. As is true with most composers, in the body of Mendelssohn's compositions, one can find individual pieces to support either greatness or mediocrity. The music which is most familiar to the public: Italian and Scottish symphonies, the Hebrides and Overture and Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream orchestral overtures, and the String Octet in E-flat Major are undoubtedly some of Mendelssohn's best. On the other hand, his operas never have been effective. Even at the end of his life, he was still searching for the perfect libretto. But it is inconsistent writing within individual pieces which is the most frustrating aspect of Mendelssohn's music. The first cello sonata is one such example. Here a solid first movement is followed by two weak ones. Included in the total number of pieces of chamber music on Table 1, are the four pieces that Mendelssohn composed for cello and piano. They consist of two short pieces and two sonatas, and were written over a sixteen year span (see Table 3, page 8). This paper aims to familiarize the reader with these cello works, investigate them in terms of the criticisms leveled at Mendelssohn's music, and examine their contribution and place in today's literature for the violoncello.
Degree ProgramGraduate College