“My shield and refuge”: Felix Mendelssohn’s Reception of J.S. Bach



This presentation investigated Mendelssohn specifically as an accomplished performer and composer for organ. Like Schumann, Liszt and Brahms, Mendelssohn turned to J.S. Bach’s keyboard music for inspiration. Bach's music served as both a compositional model for the young composer and resource for performance on his Grand Tour of 1830-1832. As the conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Mendelssohn led a series of “historical” concerts devoted to the works of Bach and Handel and others. He was also responsible for editing editions of Bach's works for keyboard. Perhaps Mendelssohn’s greatest accomplishment was the revival of Bach's St. Matthew’s Passion in 1841, the first performance of this work since Bach’s death. We also examined some facsimiles of Mendelssohn's transcriptions, correspondence and the cover of Mendelssohn's first edition of the organ chorales.


Guest Lecture
New Jersey Chapter of the National Guild of Organists; February 2009

"My shield and refuge": Felix Mendelssohn’s Reception of J.S. Bach