Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"If Music Be the Food of Love..."




Felix Mendelssohn, on the two hundredth anniversary of his birth (February 3), is getting a welcome reappraisal. National Public Radio did a story on recently discovered works by the German composer. A New York Times article tells of the efforts of violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and conductor Kurt Mazur to repair the reputation of the composer, damaged more than a century ago by Richard Wagner's anti-Semitic attack.

Strangely enough, Mendelssohn and Wagner composed the two most popular wedding marches. Wagner's is majestic and triumphal, but there's a richness to Mendelssohn's march that celebrates love.

I'm no connoisseur of music, but there's a place in my heart for Mendelssohn, who died at the age of 38 in 1847. And among those of us who love music, but are not musical scholars, he's remained popular. His music is simply enchanting. Memories can play tricks, but as I remember our honeymoon in Washington, D.C., in the dog days of August, 1973, Mendelssohn was always playing in our hotel room. I'm happy that the musical world is bringing him back to the first rank of composers.

8 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've enjoyed his stuff.

Olivia said...

Ah, I do like a bit of Mendelssohn when I take a break from Mozart, Beethoven, or Chopin...

This piece is particularly sweet.

Lisa said...

I heard some Mendelssohn a couple of days ago and I wondered for a minute why I don't hear or think of him more often. Now that I know he died at such a young age, it makes sense that he didn't establish anywhere near the body of work that some other more well known composers did. Thank you for this.

steve said...

Charles--For a lot of us, that makes the difference.

Olivia--Thank you. And I love Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin.

Lisa--Apparently he has quite a body of work--nothing like Mozart's, but considerable. The NPR piece says much of his work went unpublished, partly because he was wealthy enough that he wasn't forced to publish everything he wrote. Also, some of his manuscripts were hidden during the Nazi period, and are slowly being rediscovered. The fact that he was a baptized Christian (the "Reformation" Symphony ends with a majestic rendition of "Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott"), his Jewish ancestry meant his works were banned in Germany.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for that beautiful piece. It trickles up into the brain and touches the backs of my eyes, making them water and my heart, too.

steve said...

Olivia--That's just a beautiful line. I hope you can use it in one of your stories.

Lilith des Cavernes said...

I've always been a fan of Mendelssohn... in fact, I'm oppositional enough that I didn't listen to Wagner for years because of his attitude. LOL

Woody Allen used his work as score for his "Midsummernight's Sex Comedy" which plays tribute to Shakespeare's "Midsummer's Night Dream." Really fun movie! cheers!

steve said...

Lilith--Thanks. Kathleen says I have oppositional defiance, though I never applied it to Wagner. I haven't seen the Allen movie, but I'd like to see it now.