Cover image for A portrait of Mendelssohn
A portrait of Mendelssohn
Brown, Clive, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxxiii, 551 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
The man -- Multiplicity of talent -- Family background, childhood and education -- Religion and race -- Professional career -- The practical musician -- The teacher -- The composer -- Critical reception -- Posthumous reputation.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.M5 B76 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



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.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

What an engaging book this is. Brown (Univ. of Leeds, UK) combed the huge literature on Felix Mendelssohn to extract a large group of long, pithy, and meaningful quotes. Through these words--Mendelssohn's, his contemporaries', and those of posthumously interested parties, Brown built a rich, nuanced picture of the composer. The author creates from these strong and disparate voices a narrative from which Mendelssohn emerges a full and complex human being. Mendelssohn's legacy has suffered both evil and innocent distortion, and Brown attacks this problem head on. His commentary on the authors he quotes provides a vivid picture of how these authors shaped the interpretation of Mendelssohn. The author organizes each chapter around an aspect of Mendelssohn or his legacy: the man, his talent, his background and education, religion and race, professional career, practical music-making, teaching, composing, the critical reception, and the posthumous reputation. The book does not address issues of music analysis, nor Mendelssohn's works in a genre study. Brown's eloquent and engaging writing is as readable as Mendelssohn's own, and it results in a modern, compelling account of the composer. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All libraries interested in the major composers of Western music history. C. Cai Kenyon College