Author Topic: A New Defense of Mendelssohn  (Read 25888 times)

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Homo Aestheticus

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A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« on: February 02, 2009, 09:37:51 PM »
A nice piece in  The Times  last Saturday: 

"Since World War II, Mr. Masur has fought to restore Mendelssohn’s reputation. Mendelssohn, he said, should be given the same respect accorded Bach and Beethoven. As founder and chairman of the International Mendelssohn Foundation he has been involved in projects like restoring the composer’s house in Leipzig, Germany, as a cultural center.

Mr. Masur suggests that inappropriate interpretations of Mendelssohn’s music have also damaged his legacy. The “Scottish” Symphony,  he said, is often played in a “harmless” manner, which “is a great mistake, as it’s a very serious and dramatic piece"


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/01/arts/music/01schw.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=mendelssohn&st=cse

******

Hear, hear!

:)



Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2009, 09:41:20 PM »
Quote
"Since World War II, Mr. Masur has fought to restore Mendelssohn’s reputation. Mendelssohn, he said, should be given the same respect accorded Bach and Beethoven"

I knew there was a reason i never liked Masur. There's nothing serious or dramatic about Mendelssohn. There's nothing gay about him either for that matter. He was utterly incapable of genuine and original expression. He was a great counterfeiter though, much like his lesser brother in mischief, that one Joachim Raff. More proof that talent means nothing, as if there needed be more evidence.

Mendelssohn's place is well established where it's at: great, but second fiddle to genius.

[EDIT] Just noticed this article is ... unnecessary pejorative comment edited for human consumption. GB
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 07:12:48 AM by Gurn Blanston »

Online The new erato

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2009, 11:23:30 PM »
I don't understand the need to defend or denigrate Mendelssohn. Either one likes him, or one doesn't. Or somewhere in-between.
Me; I think he's good, sometimes very good, always on top of the handicraft of musicmaking, but mostly without the intensity of the need to make music that distinguishes the very competent musician from the driven genius. Mendelssohn would never walk to Lubeck to hear greatness, or bite at the hand that feeds him because of rtistic differences. Always a nice listen, occasionally something more (like in op 80, where personal experience transcends his usual aloofness) but not something one NEEDS to listen to. Nothing wrong in that, most composers fall in this category.

Online The new erato

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2009, 12:27:30 AM »
Insightful criticism at its best.
 
On one hand; yes. OTOH; if the point of the publication is, as the name implicates, its racial connection, this is exactly he kind of reaction they are inviting.

Offline Florestan

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2009, 01:02:36 AM »
There's nothing serious or dramatic about Mendelssohn.

Even if this were true, why should music always be serious and dramatic?
"Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."

 --- Claude Debussy

Offline Herman

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2009, 01:16:02 AM »
On one hand; yes. OTOH; if the point of the publication is, as the name implicates, its racial connection, this is exactly he kind of reaction they are inviting.

Nothing unexpected here. A lot of JdP's posts entail some form of racism, either covert & implied, or overtly such as here.

Offline Herman

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2009, 01:20:40 AM »
Even if this were true, why should music always be serious and dramatic?

True. And the other thing: why should Mendelssohn be compared to Bach and Beethoven? Because they're big German guys?

Wouldn't make much more sense to compare him in one way or another with Chopin and Schumann? And wouldn't it be a much better idea to liberate these three composers from being regarded as the little guys between giant Beethoven and giant Brahms?

Offline Daverz

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2009, 02:06:58 AM »
I knew there was a reason i never liked Masur. There's nothing serious or dramatic about Mendelssohn. There's nothing gay about him either for that matter. He was utterly incapable of genuine and original expression. He was a great counterfeiter though, much like his lesser brother in mischief, that one Joachim Raff. More proof that talent means nothing, as if there needed be more evidence.

Mendelssohn's place is well established where it's at: great, but second fiddle to genius.

[EDIT] Just noticed this article

Wow, they're must be some extra starch in your brown shirt this morning.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 07:13:58 AM by Gurn Blanston »

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2009, 06:35:40 AM »
Even if this were true, why should music always be serious and dramatic?

That wasn't my point, and i was just quoting the article. Like i said, his music is incapable of gaiety as well. A perfect imitation of gaiety, sure, but never the real thing.

Offline Florestan

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2009, 07:26:36 AM »
That wasn't my point

If I misunderstood you, I offer my apologies.

Like i said, his music is incapable of gaiety as well. A perfect imitation of gaiety, sure, but never the real thing.

You are of course entitled to your opinion, but you should never forget that it is just that. Now, I don't claim Mendelssohn is a misunderstood and underrated genius, but it has always seemed to me that his music is, contrary to your claims, sincere: he was all through his life a happy, rich, gentle and well-balanced person and his music sounds just like that. He bordered on drama when his sister died and this shows in his op. 80 SQ. Had he lived longer, he might perhaps have become more introvert and his music might have perhaps darkened. But I think his music is a perfect example of the more sunny side of Romanticism.

Just my two cents, of course.
"Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."

 --- Claude Debussy

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2009, 07:34:25 AM »
Nothing unexpected here. A lot of JdP's posts entail some form of racism, either covert & implied, or overtly such as here.

I've been anything but covert, but in this case i was merely trolling.

karlhenning

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2009, 07:34:50 AM »
Such gaiety as I find in Mendelssohn's music, is entirely genuine.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2009, 08:01:13 AM »
I've been anything but covert...

True, you wear your racism like a badge of honor for all to see.

Quote
...his music is incapable of gaiety as well. A perfect imitation of gaiety, sure, but never the real thing

Unfortunately, I don't have your keen ability to discern real from imitation gaiety. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy's music sounds delightfully sincere to me.

Sarge
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 08:22:42 AM by Sergeant Rock »
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Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2009, 11:07:27 AM »
True, you wear your racism like a badge of honor for all to see.

I may be a racist but i'm not prejudiced. That gives me moral empowerment to say whatever i please.

Renfield

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2009, 11:20:55 AM »
I may be a racist but i'm not prejudiced. That gives me moral empowerment to say whatever i please.

I literally coughed and choked on "moral empowerment".

If you are a racist, you are by definition prejudiced. No further comment on "moral empowerment": I will currently empower myself to have dinner.

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2009, 11:32:07 AM »
If you are a racist, you are by definition prejudiced.

I'm only a racist under the current definition of racism (I.E., one who believes in the biodiversity of the human races). I don't agree with that definition, but since that is the accepted view in our fine Orwellian society, then so be it. I know in my heart that i do not hold a single element of prejudice within myself, therefore my conscience is clear.

Offline 71 dB

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2009, 11:34:49 AM »
He was utterly incapable of genuine and original expression. [/color]

Utterly incapable? Really?

Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Jazzz"

Bulldog

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2009, 11:38:26 AM »
I don't understand the need to defend or denigrate Mendelssohn. Either one likes him, or one doesn't. Or somewhere in-between.
Me; I think he's good, sometimes very good, always on top of the handicraft of musicmaking, but mostly without the intensity of the need to make music that distinguishes the very competent musician from the driven genius. Mendelssohn would never walk to Lubeck to hear greatness, or bite at the hand that feeds him because of rtistic differences. Always a nice listen, occasionally something more (like in op 80, where personal experience transcends his usual aloofness) but not something one NEEDS to listen to. Nothing wrong in that, most composers fall in this category.

The above is a perfect commentary on Mendelssohn.  Being one of the most well-known classical composers of the 19th century, there's no reason to defend the man.  There's also no good reason to compare him to Bach or Beethoven; just about every other composer would come up short in such comparisions.

Offline jwinter

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2009, 11:39:50 AM »
I'm only a racist under the current definition of racism (I.E., one who believes in the biodiversity of the human races). I don't agree with that definition, but since that is the accepted view in our fine Orwellian society, then so be it. I know in my heart that i do not hold a single element of prejudice within myself, therefore my conscience is clear.

As a general rule, someone who claims that racism is not prejudice is probably best served by avoiding references to Orwell.  "Ignorance is Strength" was not intended to be taken literally.   :(
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline Herman

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Re: A New Defense of Mendelssohn
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2009, 11:43:21 AM »
ah, well. Let's talk Mendelssohn, rather than turn this into a Diner topic.