Talk:Felix Mendelssohn

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Good article Felix Mendelssohn has been listed as one of the Music good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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The article talks of Mendelssohn as being German, e.g., "greatest minds of Germany." Best I can tell, however, "Germany" did not exist at the time. I'm sure either I'm wrong on the facts or wikipedia has already addressed this issue, but I thought I'd ask.

Cka3n (talk) 20:34, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

The word 'German' did not relate in FMB's time to the not yet existent state of Germany, but to people who spoke German and the countries they lived in.--Smerus (talk) 22:51, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

German is an ethnic term. Mendelssohn's nationality was Prussian, so it may be more historically accurate to call him a Prussian composer. (talk) 21:18, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Well he was born in Hamburg - so you 'could' call him Westphalian...... but 'German' is simplest and eveyone understands it unless they are nit-picking. It may be an ethnic term to (talk), but to Mendelssohn's contemporaries it simply signified anyone who spoke the German language.--Smerus (talk) 11:07, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Which is the same thing is it not? The German people are the people who speak German. Westphalia was, by the way, part of Prussia in Mendelssohn's time! (talk) 07:20, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Not when he was born, it wasn't (Confederation of the Rhine).--Smerus (talk) 09:21, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Interesting discussion, but pointless. Hamburg was an independent city in 1809 (in 1806 it became the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, or the German-language equivalent of that phrase); Napoleon annexed it to the 'First French Empire in 1810; Russian forces liberated it in 1814. So, Felix is IndependentHamburgerHanseatic/French/Russian, instead of German. Raymondwinn (talk) 20:54, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
Funny, but no - he was a German Jew - but unquestionably his nationality was German. (talk) 02:42, 20 November 2010 (UTC)HammerFilmFan
Yeah, let's rewrite history. Goethe was a famous Frankfurter poet, Schiller a Wurttembergish playwright, Luther a Saxon reformer and so on. Funny that all those people called themselves Germans. German nationalists such as Ulrich von Hutten or Conrad Celtis would be quite angry to be called non-German but who cares. Nowadays everyone knows better what those deceased people were than the people themselves, isn't it so? -- Orthographicus (talk) 10:23, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

While we're on nationalites/ nations, I've just replaced a couple of 'Britain's for 'England', as the two shouldn't really be interchangeable (even if he didn't go to Scotland or Wales on specific visits, it should still be Britain). Katiehawks (talk) 08:16, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

Absolutely right,many thanks!--Smerus (talk) 20:04, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

german can mean/has meant (in different contexts) german nationality, ethnic german, culturally german, native german speaker,... (talk) 16:36, 13 March 2014 (UTC) Hitlers definition of what/who is german or not is not necessarily the only possibil definition of what/who is german (talk) 16:38, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

I would like to add to this discussion that I have changed my opinion in the meantime and think that we should really get rid of the term German in pre-1871 eras as it's an ambiguous word at best. While it is true that contemporaries called themselves "German" and thought of themselves as members of an ethnic "German" group, modern people are nitpicking their historic Germans and do not necessarily comply with the self-identification of these people. Rembrandt, f.ex., lived during a time when the Dutch still called themselves Nederduytschers (Lower Germans). We would, hence, have to call him German as well which no one does, however. Consequently, we should eschew the word and refer to such people either as "German-speaking" or by their respective nationality, i.e. Prussian, Bavarian, Westphalian, or citizen of Hamburg. Rembrandt, Erasmus, Gottfried Keller and Siegmund Freud were as "German" as Mendelssohn -- either we call all of them "Germans", or none. -- Orthographicus (talk) 20:35, 4 September 2015 (UTC)

Composer project review[edit]

Hmm, I get to the F's in the review list, just a little late for Mendelssohn's birthday. Ah well. This is a decent article; the biography is good. The musicology is a bit weak; more focused stylistic discussion, as well as more popular and critical contemporary commentary would be welcome. My full review is on the comments page; questions and comments should be left here or on my talk page. Magic♪piano 15:25, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

The images in that article are very nice, although somewhat monotonous. It looks like the article about 19th century interior. Any examples of his autograph scores, pictures of the members of his family (Fanny?), wife? Mendelssohn was a skilled painter, it would be maybe good to find and add some example of his paintings... I can try to find relevant images. --Vejvančický (talk) 10:51, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Symphony No. 9[edit]

"Mendelssohn's Ninth Symphony was first written as a string quartet. It was of such excellence that the composer's friend's urged him to make a symphony of it. This he did and it became Symphony IX for String Orchestra. It is unpublished..." ([1], back cover)

Unless I overlooked something, the present article mentions only Symphonies No. 1-5. Can anyone provide some info on this symphony? Do No. 6-8 also exist? --Leonard Vertighel (talk) 19:51, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

The article does in fact mention that Mendlessohn wrote twelve string symphonies in his youth. This is one of them.--Smerus (talk) 06:57, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Jenny Lind[edit]

I don't understand this controversy. There's fairly recent "investigation" into an unreleased affidavit from Lind's husband in which he accuses Mendelssohn, apparently, of something. Of course, the document isn't public, so it's hard to verify. Based on this apparent rumor, the article draws together some other quotes and facts, apparently trying to show that Mendelssohn did have an affair with Lind and did threaten suicide. This certainly does not seem to be a very neutral point of view; it seems that the author of this section, even in calling it "ambiguous" instead of a "rumor," appears to have already decided what Mendelssohn's relationship with Lind was. Furthermore, research contradicting the accusation is not mentioned (e.g., [Icons of Europe]). If it's just a rumor, I don't see why his personal life should be suddenly referred to as "conventional ... save as regards his ambiguous relationship with..." If it's unconfirmed and ambiguous, then his personal life is still fairly conventional/conservative/"moral" from what we know, and there is a controversy surrounding some unknowns. If anything else, his conventional personal life is vastly different from many of his artistic contemporaries in that there is only one unproven rumor/accusation about his personal life, even though many have sought to discount him (e.g., Wagner). Even the cited sources for this ambiguous relationship use vague terms and refer to it as a possibility or something for investigation. (talk) 20:57, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

There is no 'controversy' here. Mendelssohn's relationship with Lind is a matter of interest - why not? Their friendship is undoubted and was important to both of them, as the sources indicate. The sources cited indicate the nature of the supposed evidence involved as regards any further intimacy. Readers can form their own opinions ; the article does not take sides.--Smerus (talk) 07:05, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
PS I of course agree that the source you mention should also be cited, and I am including this in the article.--Smerus (talk) 07:07, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

NB: More recent evidence (referred to now in the article) indicates that there was indeed a serious involvement, at least on Mendelssohn's side, which led him to propose elopement and threaten suicide. I have therefore removed reference to the 'Icons of Europe' article, which denied any possibility of this.--Smerus (talk) 18:31, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Has the monument been rebuilt?[edit]

A monument to Felix Mendelssohn was destroyed by the Nazis in 1936. Can anyone please tell me whether it has been rebuilt? Thank you. Either way, the information should be included in this article. Das Baz, aka Erudil 17:34, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

I think the monument was (or is) in Leipzig. Das Baz, aka Erudil 17:35, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

And it was rebuilt, I have learned. on October 18, 2008. Das Baz, aka Erudil 21:07, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

And apparently it's an exact reproduction - another excellent example of trying to restore something of so much that was lost due to the Nazis. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:48, 20 November 2010 (UTC)


User:Bvrly has twice placed extensive commentary on Dr Edmund Thomas Chipp in this article, claiming that he had a major part in FM's British career. This appears to be WP:OR - Chipp is not even referred to in any biographies of FM. I placed the following on User:Bvrly's talk page:

Dear Bvrly, please stop introducing the stuff about Chipp on the Mendelssohn page. He is an extremely minor figure in FM's story (if indeed he figures at all - he is not even mentioned in the major biographies) and it is highly misleading to feature him strongly on the FM page. I suggest you mention all this on Chipp's own page in WP (giving appropriate references of course, if any). Thanks - --Smerus (talk)

--Smerus (talk) 23:52, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Agreed; he was a minor figure and any connection with Mendelssohn is tenuous, and certainly the way he was portrayed is a violation of WP:UNDUE. By the way, Chipp gets just three mentions in the current New Grove, none in connection with Mendelssohn (one in the article on Alfred Cellier, on in the article on Ely, and one in the article on Timpani). Thanks, Antandrus (talk) 00:07, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

I object to the mass deletions of my contributions to this page without prior discussion or any entry on this talk page by Smerus, as he did by just straight out deleting my 5 initial posts and then undoing what it wrote the next day. I consider this vandalism. I take personal objection to the slights and sarcasm in his post below this (if indeed he figures at all?) and the implication that there are no references - which there are, but he has dismissed. I do not claim he was a major part in his career but he had an extremely significant part in it and I have archives before me which document that. I am not being given a chance to establish this however if Smerus deletes things as soon as I write them, and, given the timings, i suspect he has not even tried to verify the information before dismissing it. The fact that Chipp has not featured in the biographies of M. that Smerus has looked at does not mean he did not exist, and the information is irrelevant as he has said. This is an arrogant stance, and I thought that the idea of Wiki was to collect and collate information, including newly discovered historic information, otherwise we might as well just put the existing encyclopaedias online and no one need bother themselves ever doing any more research or transcibing information from hitherto un-webbed published Victorian Publications. (NOT talking about original research but transcirption of published information which has not yet been available electronically) I can accept that perhaps when I have written might be bettered, (it is difficult to elegantly insert to established text without disturbing what is there already), and suggestions are welcome, but, wholesale deletion of everything I have added Is unfair, and not at all in a co-operative or friendly spirit. Bvrly (talk) 13:44, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Smerus did discuss this on the talk page (he started this section). Please don't take the information's deletion personally. Please don't read sarcasm into people's posts on Wikipedia: it is impossible to gauge someone's intentions from the written word, and it may be more productive to assume Smerus meant what he said.
It appears that there are people who object to your introduction of so much information about Chipp, and are unconvinced that he was as important a figure as your contributions assert. This position seems to be just as honourable as yours, and you don't help your argument by implying otherwise. The debate needs to be decided amicably, by consensus please. --RobertGtalk 15:04, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

additional Lieder Ohne Worte with different opus numbers[edit]

I've posted a question at the page for Lieder ohne Worte, with the above title, but assuming this Mendelssohn page gets much more traffic, this note is just to direct people's attention there. Milkunderwood (talk) 08:10, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

  • and see my answer there, too. --Smerus (talk) 12:02, 31 March 2010 (UTC)


To Antandrus:

Regardless of how it's actually rendered in your source, it has always been much more usual to indicate an old-fashioned abbreviation of a first name with a dash or dots rather than with a row of asterisks. Certainly these days when "F****" or whatever looks inescapably obscene, you might want to change it to "F--" or "F...." I don't think you would be doing violence to your source. Or perhaps, even better, you could put "F**** [i.e, Felix]". If for no other reason that it's always going to get changed if you leave it as is. Milkunderwood (talk) 22:19, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

OK, good--that looks *much* better now. Hope you don't get any more crap from people deleting your contributions. Milkunderwood (talk) 03:31, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Smerus has correctly called me out on my suggestion of using hyphens instead of asterisks, saying "In print Heyse used the asterisks and that is the only source I definitiely have. We mustn't second guess our sources - that would be WP:OR."

Since the exact same deletion-&-reinstatement of the asterisked initialism has happened again today, would it be acceptable to change the text to read something like this?:

"a work of 'his pupil, F****' [i.e. 'Felix' (asterisks as provided in original text)].[12]" Milkunderwood (talk) 05:09, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
done ---Smerus (talk) 05:27, 9 April 2010 (UTC)


Being German, his name would be spelt with an eszet, would it not? I know in English we use "ss" instead, but should the German spelling be mentioned somewhere (if I am indeed correct)? (talk) 15:16, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

I've seen some daft comments in WP, but this ranks high for being the most pointless bit of smart-assery (or maybe smart-aßery). Etymologically it is wrong anyway: the name parses as 'Mendels [i.e. genitive of Mendel] - sohn', so the 'ß', which represents an integral 'double-s', doesn't apply here. If you don't believe me, look at German Wikipedia.--Smerus (talk) 18:41, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

Oh the irony! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:00, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
Smart-assery or just a wrong assumption? Rothorpe (talk) 17:57, 4 October 2012 (UTC)
It is probably a good example of a rule that I also unfortunately break from time to time -'if you don't know what you're talking about, shut up!' Or, as Ludwig Wittgenstein put it more elegantly, 'wovon man nicht sprechen kann, davon muss man schweigen'. The anonymous comment on 'irony' is curious - did the editor mean 'sarcasm'? Alas we may never know.... :-}--Smerus (talk) 13:28, 5 October 2012 (UTC)
I did a bit of a double take at the IPA sz and checked here; the Westphalian informant is especially (and I think a bit unusually) careful to pronounce both S's. Sparafucil (talk) 00:06, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Mendelssohn as a Jew[edit]

User:Varlaam has removed FM from a number of categories which placed FM as a Jew (Jewish composers, etc.) He commented 'Generally a person needs to belong to a category for the category to be included here'. I have sent him the following message:

Hi, I see you took out the categories listing Mendelssohn as a Jewish composer, etc. I think you were in error. Firstly, it seems accepted on WP that 'Jewish' does not only refer to those of Jewish religion, but to those of Jewish ethnicity. See WP article which defines Jews as 'a nation and ethnoreligious group' . Mendelssohn was undoubtedly Jewish in this ethnic sense by both parents - see the article, but I can provide extensive family tree if you wish). He therefore legitimately 'belongs' to Jewish categories. Secondly, as the article makes clear, Mendelssohn was proud of his Jewish ancestry and never distanced himself from it. Thirdly he was recognised by his contemporaries as being of Jewish ethnicity and indeed attacked by some of them (e.g. Richard Wagner) because of it. I was just going to revert your edit as a good faith error, but I thought it worth raising this with you first in the hope that you find the above satisfactory. I am posting this also on the FM discussion page. Best regards ---Smerus (talk) 12:45, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Subject to any discussion/response, I would intend to revert User:Varlaam's edit

Smerus (talk) 12:45, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Problem paragraph[edit]

The following paragraph in the Reputation section seems problematical to me:

"A more nuanced appreciation of Mendelssohn's work has developed over the last 50 years, which takes into account not only the popular 'war horses', such as the E minor Violin Concerto and the Italian Symphony, but has been able to remove the Victorian varnish from the oratorio Elijah, and has explored the frequently intense and dramatic world of the chamber works. Virtually all of Mendelssohn's published works are now available on CD."

My problems with it are as follows: The paragraph needs to stand on its own as statements of clear and verifiable facts, rather than hint at metaphors the reader can't decipher or allude obliquely to matters discussed elsewhere in the article. The paragraph needs (1) specificity, (2) expansion, (3) removal of opinion, jargon, metaphors, and oblique hints like "remove the Victorian varnish" and "war horses."

Sorry if I'm stepping on anyone's toes, as I'm sure it was intended to convey information clearly; but I think it no longer does. I've tried to copyedit it, but I actually don't know precisely what it meant in the first place, so I haven't been too successful. Could someone with the knowledge and (re)sources kindly ditch both the original and my copyedit, and re-write the thing completely, making it clearer and more complete in the process? Thanks. Softlavender (talk) 02:10, 16 November 2010 (UTC)

This edit seems fine for the moment and I agree it is far less oblique and more accessible than the original (for which I was perhaps largely responsible - mea culpa :-}). I would like at some time to revise the entire article to bring it up to GA status, so perhaps it could all be rewritten in that context. And if you would like to assist in that process you are very welcome!--Smerus (talk) 12:15, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
Since you mentioned revising the article, you've probably noticed I went through the whole thing and gave it a (relatively mild) copyedit, in favor of economy of wording, avoidance of parentheticals, and ease of comprehension. Some of my commentary about the article is in my edit summaries. One thing I chose to delete rather than rewrite or move (it was 3 AM and I was sleepy) was this statement in the Leipzig section appended to Heine's critique " — anticipating Wagner and many of Mendelssohn’s later critics who attacked the composer’s supposed glibness." I think the information is valid, but either worded unencyclopedicly or in the wrong place. Figurative language depicting Heine actually anticipating (yes I know that's not what is meant but it's still unencyclopedic) later critics' remarks in my opinion ought to be made encyclopedic by simply stating that facts: that later critics like Wagner similarly attacked M's supposed glibness. Or the sentence/idea can be moved to the Reputation section. Or neither (it can just stay deleted). I think that's the only substantive deletion I made, except for deleting the rather overused word "conservative" once when discussing the formation of young Felix's taste and his liking of Bach.
Also, the Career section seems a little choppy to me (UPDATE: I just now consolidated some one-paragraph sections, which relieves that problem). I'd like it to maybe include when and where he wrote some of his other major works: the incidental music to MSND; the Violin Concerto, the Italian symphony, etc. It's nice when reading a composer's bio to have a sense of them composing, not just day-jobbing.
There's one fact in the lead which is not even mentioned in the body text: "Indeed his father was disinclined to allow Felix to follow a musical career until it became clear that he intended seriously to dedicate himself to it." That should either be moved to or recapitulated and perhaps expanded in the body text. Next, I added 6 most-performed works to the lead, to bring the lead back to the point -- M's music. I'm just going by what I hear most on the radio. Please add more if appropriate and useful. End of article: Rosen is kind of blah to end the article with. Is there someone else we can quote after that to kind of summarize things on a more upbeat note?
Last copyedit notes: I'd like to see the article conform to one style of (A) punctuation for abbreviations (I'm in favor of American-style adding periods after all abbreviations, including St. and initials, as this seems to be most accessible and easily understood); (B) placement of punctuation before or after quotes (here I'm in favor of American style again: inside the quotes); (C) serial commas or no (I personally much prefer serial commas). I haven't conformed any of this one way or another because I got busy elsewhere and also perhaps didn't want to make too many editorial decisions. I think that's all for me now. :) Softlavender (talk) 13:31, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, actually I think I agree with everything you say. Now all I have to do is find the spare time to do something about it......--Smerus (talk) 14:25, 16 November 2010 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Felix Mendelssohn/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Tim riley (talk) 17:57, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

Initial comments after first read-through: spelling needs to be consistently UK or US. At present it contains examples of both; inverted commas need to be Wikified – i.e. double quotes throughout. More detailed comments after second read-through. First impression is of an excellent article. Tim riley (talk) 00:46, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

thanks, I will start on these processes....--Smerus (talk) 07:11, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

Comments after second read-through:

  • Lead and passim: a touch of overlinking in parts. "German" doesn't need linking (see WP:OVERLINK) and I'm not persuaded that symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano music or chamber music do, either. Later unhelpful blue links to vex the eye are banker, pianist, artist (come on!), watercolour, Vienna, Rome, organ, Paris, aniline (is anyone likely to follow that one?), baton, premiered, and Berlin.
  • You have repeated blue links for many people, from Berlioz to Queen Victoria. I'd prune these ruthlessly – the MOS guideline says "In general, link only the first occurrence of an item. There are exceptions to this guideline, including … where the later occurrence is a long way from the first…", but I don't think that exception applies in this admirably concise article.
  • Bach is mentioned twice in the same para before getting his blue link. Why not at first mention?
  • You don't give Henry Fothergill Chorley his blue link, which I think you ought to.
  • You need to correct the links to Andrew Porter, Antigone, Ferdinand David and Tomahawk, which all go to disambiguation pages at present.
  • In the earlier years (and even in the later ones) you rather overuse "Felix" rather than "Mendelssohn". If I were you I'd use the former only when there is danger of confusion with another Mendelssohn. Thus "Abraham later explained this decision in a letter to Felix" is fine, but "Felix probably made his first public concert appearance at age nine" isn't. I think this needs adressing if the article is to be promoted.
  • It seems to be Wikipedia orthodoxy, though I haven't actually spotted it in the MoS, that at first mention in each new paragraph it's "Mendelssohn", not "he" – e.g. in the second paras of the Düsseldorf and In Britain sections. (I wondered about the "In" for the latter heading.)
  • Meeting Goethe and conducting Bach
    • the Hebrides Overture and the Scottish and Italian symphonies – no italics?
  • Mendelssohn as a musician
    • I'm not making a point of this, but a WP purist would object to the indefinite article in a heading.
  • Reputation and legacy
    • I see why you have put the statue pictures left and right, but sandwiching text between pictures is not ideal, and rearranging might be preferable.

Tim riley (talk) 11:26, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for your very helpful comments. I think I've now dealt with most of the above (if I haven't I am leaving off for the present, as my head is swimming). I've also added a few bits and pieces and reordered some of the content to improve the flow. Where I haven't taken action is on unlinking some of the words (except where the links are repeated). This is not just due to a fondness for 'aniline' - only that some users of WP can be not as sophisticated as we might imagine, and might find something about watercolours, organs or even Berlin useful...anyway I am now going to sleep on it....--Smerus (talk) 20:12, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

Disagree with you though I do about the number of links, it is not, I am pleased to say, one of the GA criteria that linking practice should follow the MoS recommendations, so on that account, at any rate, there is no problem. The "Felix" matter needs to be addressed, though. Tim riley (talk) 22:12, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

I think I have now dealt with the 'Felix' issue - though there are one or two places where, as you allow, it has proved I think more helpful to leave 'Felix' for disambiguation purposes.--Smerus (talk) 05:32, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

That clears up all outstanding objections to promoting the article to GA. Tim riley (talk) 10:29, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Overall summary[edit]

GA review – see WP:WIAGA for criteria

  1. Is it reasonably well written?
    A. Prose quality:
    B. MoS compliance:
  2. Is it factually accurate and verifiable?
    A. References to sources:
    Well referenced
    B. Citation of reliable sources where necessary:
    Well referenced
    C. No original research:
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. Major aspects:
    B. Focused:
  4. Is it neutral?
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. Is it stable?
    No edit wars, etc:
  6. Does it contain images to illustrate the topic?
    A. Images are copyright tagged, and non-free images have fair use rationales:
    Well illustrated
    B. Images are provided where possible and appropriate, with suitable captions:
    Well illustrated
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:

I found this an enjoyable and instructive article to review. There are, in my view, the makings of an FA with some copy editing to bring MoS compliance up to FA standards, but that is for another day. Meanwhile, it is a pleasure to affirm its GA-status.


I somehow doubt File:Mendelssohn Bartholdy 1821.jpg is the subject of the article...

138La (talk)

11:47, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

  • Have no further doubts; it is--Smerus (talk) 19:46, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Organ Music[edit]

I don't have the time right now to put a little blurb together to add to what exists on Mendelssohn's organ music within this article. However, it should be mentioned that there are numerous other free works and such (some quite notable) that have been more recently discovered. A whole slew of references and such exist in a relatively new book entitled Mendelssohn and the Organ by William Little, who also edited a number of recent editions of Mendelssohn's organ works. I feel it would be invaluable to this article, since Mendelssohn is generally (widely) only known for his Preludes/Fugues and Sonatas. Comments please! Orgelspielerkmd (talk) 20:39, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Do by all means write something on M's organ music, but too much on it would unbalance the article. You could always do a separate article (e.g. Felix Mendelssohn (organ music)) and give it a couple of link sentences in the main article.--Smerus 05:26, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Popularity and anti-Semitism[edit]

The end of the introduction states, "After a long period of relative denigration due to changing musical tastes and anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his creative originality has now been recognised and re-evaluated." The assertion that his popularity waned because of anti-Semitism is repeated in the "Reputation and legacy" section. No proofs are given in either case, although the very real anti-Semitic attacks on his music are mentioned.

My own impression is that Mendelssohn was simply the victim of changing tastes, Nazi Germany aside, and that the pendulum has now swung back. The impact of anti-Semitism on his popularity should be documented, or else these unproven remarks should be removed. Opus131 (talk) 00:15, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Section 3 of the article ('Reputation and legacy') discusses and gives references for Wagner's anti-Jewish attack on Mendelssohn, and the Nazi attempt to erase his music is mentioned, but not referenced - I will provide references for this as soon as I have access my sources, but I hardly think the assertion is contentious; there is ample evidence for it. I think therefore one may legitimately question your assertion that changing taste is the only element involved here. (If I were feeling cheeky, I might comment that one could similarly write, 'Nazi Germany aside, Jews prospered in the 20th century'). The reference in the lead, which you cite, clearly attributes his denigration both to "changing musical tastes and anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries" so no exclusivity is claimed for the latter.--Smerus 05:26, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I have now referenced both the Nazi attitude to Mendelssohn and Orff's Nazi-approved replacement of Mendelssohn's music for 'Midsummer Night's Dream'--Smerus 06:01, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Not contentious? In this case it still is. There was plenty of anti-Semitism in turn-of-the-century England, but it seems to have had no impact on Mendelssohn's reputation there. You can document anti-Semitic attacks on Mendelssohn until the cows come home (and you'll be right) but showing a real impact on his general popularity is quite a different thing. I would be very happy if you'd at least guard these statements with some weasel words: "May have" or some such. Opus131 (talk) 06:49, 22 September 2011


Is there not a certian amount of contentious , or at least WP:OR, matter in your own comments here. 'Plenty of anti-Semitism in turn-of-the-century England'? - evidence please, particularly as regards cultural and historical pundits (such as e.g. Houston Stewart Chamberlain in Germany). Germany was Mendelssohn's home country; it was in Germany that a line of anti-Jewish comment, starting with Wagner and others, continuing during the growth of anti-Semitism as a popular movement, and culminating in the anti-Jewish cultural policies of the Nazis, which sidelined Mendelssohn's music in Germany and in Europe. There is no 'may have' about this. As a consequence - but not of course entirely due to this - the music of Mendelssohn lost some of its status. But the article nowhere claims that it was entirely due to this - it gives it as a factor.
You correctly raise the issue of impact on M.'s 'general popularity'. But if music is not programmed, and/or is denigrated by cultural pundits, the 'general popularity' is bound to decline as a consequence. Promoters put on music which they think will find audiences.
I again cite the present existing sentence in the lead 'After a long period of relative denigration due to changing musical tastes and anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries....' This sentence does not accord exclusivity or priority to the Jewish factor, (indeed placing it second) it simply mentions it was there. And it was.--Smerus 09:11, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Mendelssohn as artist, painter[edit]

Mendelssohn was a painter? At a lecture I attended last night it was pointed out that it would be unusual for someone of his social class to NOT be educated in all the arts including drawing and painting. And very bright child that he was, he did very well at it.

Of course he is not remembered as a painter and even if his drawings and paintings were not overshadowed by his musical works he would still not figure as a major figure in 19th Century art, however... He did pursue it quite a bit, many survive and many are strikingly well-done. They are interesting artifacts of his life because they document places and activities that were important to him much as we take snapshots today.

They are interesting from a biographical perspective and it might be worthwhile for someone pull together a few for a small section explaining his pursuits in the visual arts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:09, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Who is "Mendelssohn Bartholdy"?[edit]

In subsection named "Felix's surname", it is written as "but in deference to his father signed his letters and had his visiting cards printed using the form Mendelssohn Bartholdy". Is the relative pronoun "who" dropped between "his father" and "signed"? I can't refer to source by myself but web sources say that Felix preferred not to use the name "Bartholdy". Current sentence can be read as "Felix signed using the form Mendelssohn Bartholdy". Someone, please make it clear by adding "," or "who" there.--Ponruy (talk) 19:28, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

It means what it says.--Smerus (talk) 22:42, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

Thank you, Smerus. Actually, I don't demand the correction of this article. I'm now revising Japanese version of article based on this well-written English version. I'm confused because current JP version says "Felix used the surname 'Bartholdy' with his farther in mind, but he didn't think it necessary. He introduced himself just as 'Felix Mendelssohn'." A Japanese web source says "When Abraham made visiting cards for Felix, he printed as 'Felix M. Bartholdy'. This made Felix protest against his father, insisting his surname is 'Mendelssohn'. The two reached compromise that Felix introduces himself as 'Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy'." This website cites the biography by Hans Cristoph Worbs, [2] translated into Japanese. [3] Please let me confirm the information;

  • Abraham requested Felix to drop the surname 'Mendelssohn'.
  • Felix refused his father's request but used cards printed as 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. Therefore he signed as 'Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy'.
  • Abraham claimed that his name is 'Abraham Bartholdy'. (omitted 'Mendelssohn')
  • Felix orally introduced himself as 'Felix Mendelssohn'.

Are these consistent with your source?--Ponruy (talk) 15:28, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

OK. Here's the situation. Abraham tried to persuade Felix to drop Mendelssohn altogether, and to use the name Bartholdy. He arranged visiting cards to be printed for Felix as 'Felix M. Bartholdy'. Felix did not apparently use these. He signed himself Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and his works were published under the name Mendelssohn Bartholdy, which he also used on his own visiting cards. That is, he continued to use the name 'Mendelssohn' despite his father's objections. In England, Felix was generally known simply as Mendelssohn, the syurname under which he debuted in his original visits. There is no evidence of which I am aware that Felix agreed any formal compromise with his father about his surname, or that Felix ever introduced himself in conversation or otherwise as 'Felix Mendelssohn'. Nor is there any evidence that Abraham referred to himself simply as 'Abraham Bartholdy' (without Mendelssohn). See Todd (2003)208 (the standard modern biography) and Conway (2012) 182-3. See also Organ Sonatas, Op. 65 (Mendelssohn) for an 1845 English advertisement using both forms of the name. Best, --Smerus (talk) 16:53, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Thank you so much, Smerus. Now I understand how to modify Japanese article. Unfortunatly, current my circumstance does not allow me to refer to original sources. So I can not thank enough for your kind instruction which greatly helps me to improve our version. And I apologize if my words sounded offensive because of my poor English writing. --Ponruy (talk) 16:03, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Not at all, the fault was mine, I did not understand properly the reasons for your query.--Smerus (talk) 22:56, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Not Jewish[edit]

Mendelsohn was clearly of Jewish descent, but he was not ethnically Jewish in any meaningful way. His parents converted to Christianity and he was clearly a Christian who participated in German culture, not Jewish culture. The idea you could be a Jew while rejecting the religion of Judaism did not exist yet at this point. Mendelssohn was a Jew by race, not by ethnicity, and we classify people by ethnicity, not race, therefore he was not a Jew for our purposes. Just because the Nazis considered someone a Jew does not mean they were. The Jewish community of Mendelssohn's contemporaries would have clearly rejected him as a Jew. Even a few hundred years later when Jews had come to accept that people who had rejected the religion might still be Jews, the law of return would have excluded Mendelssohn as a baptized Christian from coming to Israel as a Jew. He is clearly not a Jew in any way that does not classify people by race.John Pack Lambert (talk) 19:13, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

This is true up to a point, and I don't disagree with the recategorization. But in fact (as a matter of interest) Mendelssohn remained, as one of the Neuchristen, culturally associated with Jews and Jewish converts, and with his Jewish ancestry. I don't think it can be said that he 'was not ethnicially Jewish in any way'- the reverse is true: he was in fact ethnically Jewish in every way, as both his parents were ethnic Jews. But it is true that he never practised the Jewish religion. See Conway (2012), 173-84. --Smerus (talk) 19:39, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
if you are a Christian (like Felix Mendelssohn was all of his life) you are not really a jew , aren't you? (talk) 16:33, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
It is not claimed that Mendelssohn was a Jew (i.e. by religion), but that he was Jewish (i.e. by ethnicity).--Smerus (talk) 06:01, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
Other way around - a Jew (nationality) - Jewish (religion, in this context.) The large majority of Jews practice Judaism, but there are significant numbers of Christian Jews, and even the odd Muslim or Buddhist Jew - very rare, of course. Mendelssohn seems to have been proud of his heritage, but was a follower of Jesus, identified as a German, and just got on with it.HammerFilmFan (talk) 20:49, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
These are opinions, not facts. To some, he was a Jew because his parents were, regardless if he saw himself as such, and to others he was not because he was baptized and lived as a Christian (and thus left the "Jewish people" also, not just the religion). So it's all opinions of different individuals. Yuvn86 (talk) 15:10, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

Violin Concerti (PLURAL)[edit]

Years ago, I talked here about altering this article's references to "the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto" or "his Violin Concerto" as if there were only one. Popularity, fame, or anything else is utterly irrelevant when dealing with absolute facts, and the absolute fact is that he wrote more than one Violin Concerto. This article must be edited accordingly. Just because his second known Violin Concerto is far more popular and/or well-known than his first known Violin Concerto, this can't justify using wording indicating that he wrote only ONE. Smyslov (talk) 02:53, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

It is wrong to refer in the lead to 'his Second Violin Concerto', as it is never referred to under that name. The early violin concerto was not given an opus number and is rarely performed (though it cetainly deserves performance). The existing WP article on the op. 64 concerto, Violin concerto (Mendelssohn), is imo fully justified by WP:COMMONNAME. ("The most common name for a subject, as determined by its prevalence in reliable English-language sources, is often used as a title because it is recognizable and natural.") When and if you get the title of that changed to Violin concerto no. 2 (Mendelssohn), then further changes to this article could be made. In the meantime I have changed the reference in the lead to 'his mature Violin Concerto'. I would also point out that the 'concerto' section of this article already mentions the earlier concerto.--Smerus (talk) 05:41, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

Unfinished piano concerto[edit]

Should one perhaps have a page on his unfinished piano concerto in E minor (begun 1844, there are substantial manuscripts in two different places - see e.g. IMSLP? Might be able to work such a stub up sometime if so... Schissel | Sound the Note! 04:03, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Who forbids it?--Smerus (talk) 04:45, 12 May 2013 (UTC)

Choral Music[edit]

The Psalms were not mentioned under choral music. What is wrong in introducing them ? please explain, thanks. רסטיניאק (talk) 11:18, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

Dear Rastignac, Who forbids it? Feel free to add to the article, but make sure you cite sources, please.--Smerus (talk) 13:27, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
Nothing, but your addition needs to be rewritten, per WP:PEA. Toccata quarta (talk) 13:30, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
Is Larry Todd's book 'Mendelssohn: A life in Music' acceptable as reference ? On page 361, he wrote: "During his lifetime, op. 42 became one of his most popular sacred Choral works. For Robert Schumann it attained the "highest summit" available to "modern church music". However, I am not familiar with introducing book thanks for any help. רסטיניאק (talk) 18:25, 13 May 2013 (UTC)רסטיניאק
Yes, that quotation seems to be fine. Toccata quarta (talk) 18:53, 13 May 2013 (UTC)


The first picture in the section Life appears to be of a woman. I know the picture could well be true, but should this be clarified to avoid confusion? George8211 (talk | contribs) 16:27, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

  • No need to clarify it, the caption is accurate.--Smerus (talk) 09:54, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

About Mendelssohn's pupils...[edit]

wasn't there someone in the 19th century who went around claiming he was one of Mendelssohn's students (indeed his concert notices would claim that he was Mendelssohn's "last pupil", but wasn't on any list of the composer's pupils at all or in any letters anyone has found (or of his sister's, I'm guessing, if she took music pupils at any point? I should look into that)? Can't seem to find the name now. Names of pupils or claimed-to-be-pupils included (I have little doubt about most of these) Reinecke, Verhulst, Sterndale Bennett, Rocksto/Rackstraw, Hermann Wichmann, perhaps Joseph Joachim, briefly Joachim Raff as well maybe... a bit of searching suggests Eduard Franck also (ah, good stuff there) and Ferdinand David (ah right!), also Ferdinand Quentin Dulcken (wrote some medium-scale choral music in addition to slighter piano music, a fun discovery there too from the Library of Congress. Wonder who the odd one out was who didn't belong in the list- maybe someone I haven't mentioned, though. Hrm. Any idea?... ) Schissel | Sound the Note! 15:31, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Hat note[edit]

"Mendelssohn" redirects to this article. Therefore the hatnote should refer on to Mendelssohn (surname), and not to Bartholdy. --Smerus (talk) 15:06, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

'Bartholdy' in hatnote.[edit]

Can someone give a rationale for the additonal hatnote referring readers to 'Bartholdy'? Mendelssohn leads direct to this article. Other folk with Mendelssohn in their surname can be accessed from Mendelssohn (surname). This latter page includes those with the surname 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The only person on the Bartholdy page who does not appear on the Mendelssohn (surname) page is Jakob Salomon Bartholdy - but no-one seeking him would have arrived at Felix Mendelssohn. If other editors agree with me in finding it irrelevant, I will remove the hatnote referring to Bartholdy. --Smerus (talk) 13:35, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

I agree. In the meantime, I've combined them into one hatnote. Having two separate ones was truly pointless clutter. Voceditenore (talk) 14:22, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
While Bartholdy is not a REDIRECT to this page, quite a few with that name are. Given that at least in Germany he is invariably referred to as "Mendelssohn Bartholdy", I think the current, post-VdT, arrangement is satisfactory. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 15:51, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
Hats off to an acceptable solution! --Smerus (talk) 19:39, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
Although on further thought I should add that there is something not entirely satisfactory in Felix being referred to in the hatnote as 'the German musician'. There's also Fanny Mendelssohn who fits that description....and Arnold Mendelssohn .....(whom I've just added to Mendelssohn (surname) (just realised he was already there in fact).....--Smerus (talk) 20:33, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Nietzsche's 'condescending' comment[edit]

I challenge the idea that Friedrich Nietzsche's 'lovely interlude' comment is an example of condescenscion.

In the same chapter of Beyond Good and Evil from which this comment is taken (245), Nietzsche praises M. beyond all German composers after Beethoven's death. He is "that halcyon master", with a "lighter, purer, happier soul" than his contemporaries. Anyone who has read Nietzsche will recognize that "lighter and happier" are the highest terms of praise in his writings.

It seems to me that this quote was taken completely out of context, or given a negative reading by the Grove editor who used it. I would like to include more of the relevant passage, given that Nietszche is one of the few 'fans' Mendelssohn had at that time. --AgonRex (talk) 21:49, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Interesting point. I will edit the article accordingly.--Smerus (talk) 07:07, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
I have edited the section to include the passage from Beyond Good and Evil. Feel free to revise. --AgonRex (talk) 15:46, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for this. I am stuck in Kiev at present.--Smerus (talk) 06:40, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Was so glad to see this. Please make these changes. Was over the moon to find this then that horrible nonsense ruined it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Codeslubber (talkcontribs) 03:07, 16 July 2014 (UTC)


An editor is insistent on including the section 'Ancestry', a table which they have inserted at the end of the article before the notes and references. This lists three generations for Mendelssohn's ancestors (where known) and is not sourced or referenced. The more significant of these ancestors are anyway mentioned in the article. A number of others a red linked, although it is not clear whether the editor concerned is going to create articles for them, or whether indeed there is any claim for them to be they are WP:NOTABLE in their own right. In any case, there already references in the article to the existing articles Mendelssohn family and Itzig family (the families of Felix's parents). As table is both superfluous in itself, and serves no purpose in the article, I am in favour of removing it, but would welcome the opinions of other editors. Thanks, --Smerus (talk) 17:30, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

Whatever the pros or cons, our usual procedure per WP:BRD is that once an edit has been reverted it should be discussed here to try to reach a consensus, rather than just repeated. Since this is deemed both a "good article" and a "vital article" it is particularly important that controversial changes are agreed on the talk page and that the main article is not subject to edit warring. On the issue itself, the "ancestry" chart that has been added, I honestly can't see that it adds anything of value to the article. --Deskford (talk) 19:55, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
I agree that adding that table here is unnecessary and makes the article worse. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 10:08, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Once again I have removed the table which an editor reinserted.--Smerus (talk) 13:08, 6 June 2015 (UTC)
And again.--Smerus (talk) 18:49, 29 June 2015 (UTC)


From my user page, about this edit:

You are, of course, entitled to edit whatever you like on Wikipedia. However, I would expect that an intelligent person such as yourself might have tried to learn a bit about the CADASIL syndrome before deleting my entry on Felix Mendelssohn so perfunctorily. I am a Professor of Pathology at the University of Virginia, and do not idly throw medical opinions around.

MRWick1 Mrwick1 (talk) 16:31, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Nu? I am a PhD and have published books and papers, am a Grade VIII piano player and speak mediocre Slovak, but despite these emblems of glory I stick to Wikipedia rules about citation. I don't think being a Professor exempts you from this, but you could try pinging Jimmy Wales to see if he will give you a dispensation. Best, --Smerus (talk) 16:42, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

But seriously, folks, I did read CADASIL syndrome and found it interesting, (to the extent that a non-Professor of Pathology could understand it). I do think however that we should have a citation that links it to the Mendelssohns before we incorporate it into the article. If anyone has such, do be forthcoming with it.--Smerus (talk) 20:01, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

I've removed this again, since apparently the only source that professor Mrwick could find for his assertion was a chamber music blog in 2008 (?which perhaps he authored?). This is not an acceptable source for a medical fact (see WP:CITE), and in any case anonymous blogs are not appropriate sources for GA (or imo any other) articles.--Smerus (talk) 06:41, 11 August 2014 (UTC)