"This fascinating book presents a rich selection of documents concerning Mendelssohn's life and music, including some important new material." R. Larry Todd, Duke University
Since his death in 1847, Felix Mendelssohn's music and personality have been both admired and denigrated to extraordinary degrees. In this study Clive Brown weaves together a rich array of documents - letters, diaries, memoirs, reviews, news reports and more - with the aim of presenting a balanced picture of the composer and his work. Rejecting the received view of Mendelssohn as a facile, lightweight musician, Brown demonstrates that he was in fact an innovative and highly cerebral composer who exerted a powerful influence on musical thought into the 20th century. Brown discusses Mendelssohn's family background and education; the role of religion and race in his life and reputation; his experiences as practical musician (pianist, organist, string player, conductor) and as teacher and composer; the critical reception of his works; and the vicissitudes of his posthumous reputation. The text also includes a range of hitherto unpublished sketches made by Mendelssohn. The result is a portrayal of the man and his achievements as viewed through his own words and those of his contemporaries.