2009 Student Research Conference:
22nd Annual Student Research Conference

Felix: The Christian Mendelssohn
Karianne M. Jones
Prof. Shirley McKamie, Faculty Mentor

Felix Mendelssohn, an influential composer of the early Romantic period, has been the focus of music scholars, particularly in regard to his family's conversion from Judaism to Christianity. Grandson to Enlightenment philosopher, Moses Mendelssohn, such assimilation has been received in a variety of ways ranging from skepticism to utter acceptance. Musicologist Eric Werner's Post-World War II approach accepts Mendelssohn's Christian faith as sincere while highlighting his supposed connection to his Jewish heritage. Recent scholarship, however, has illuminated several translational errors in Mendelssohnian letters forming the basis of Werner's assertions. Re-examining these documents, musicologist Jeffrey Sposato argues for a new discussion involving Mendelssohns Jewish identity, or lack thereof. Mendelssohn's compositions themselves elucidate these assertions, particularly the religious oratorios. While acknowledging the value of Sposato's approach, this study will take the discussion further by examining Mendelssohn's identity outside the constraints of traditional classifications (i.e. Jewish, Christian).

Keywords: Felix Mendelssohn, Jewish heritage, Christian faith, Identity

Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 2-4
Location: OP 2113
Time: 9:00

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