Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mendelssohn via Wagner

As Mendelssohn's 200th anniversary year continues, Tom Service wonders why the composer has been underrated for so long. Answer: Perceptions were filtered through Richard Wagner, who vented his anti-Semitism against Mendelssohn, a Christian convert from a prominent German Jewish family, in hopes of undermining the stature of of a rival.

"Mendelssohn's influence made him the most important figure in German musical culture. Before Wagner could launch his musical and social revolutions, he needed to destroy Mendelssohn," Service writes in The Guardian: