Patterico's Pontifications


Sunday Afternoon Music

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:55 pm

Felix Mendelssohn has always gotten a bad rap. Early on, he was dismissed as a lightweight — an astonishing child prodigy, to be sure, but “Mozart lite” at best. In recent years, he has started to earn more respect — but not as much as he deserves, in my opinion. He has always been near the top of the list of my favorite composers, since I was child. We would go on long car trips when I was young (I didn’t fly on a plane until I returned home on break from college my freshman year) — and I mean long. As in “Fort Worth, Texas to Long Island” long. A set of Mendelssohn symphonies on cassette helped make these trips bearable.

Mendelssohn’s string quartets are often overlooked by the general public, but they are among my favorite works in all music — and I am not alone in that opinion. I spoke with one of the members of the Mandelring Quartet after a recent Los Angeles performance, and he ranked Mendelssohn’s quartets among his favorite in all the literature.

What you’re about to hear was written by an 18-year-old. If you were not already familiar with Mendelssohn’s astounding precocious musical ability at a young age, you would never guess that. Passionate and melodic, this stands as one of the great works of Western civilization.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

9 Responses to “Sunday Afternoon Music”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. Near the end of the second movement I hear definite allusions to the main theme of Beethoven’s String Quartet in a minor, Op. 132. Mendelssohn was known to be a student of Beethoven’s late quartets, and this is clearly no accident.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  3. One of my favorites is the Mendelssohn Octet for strings. Also love the Concerto for Violin and Piano in D minor with orchestra which he composed, I read, at age 14. Amazing. Studied with the late Israel Baker who is on a number of Heifetz chamber music recordings and was I later very lucky to take part in Heifetz Master Classes at USC. Many of our classes were held at his studio at his home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. After his passing his home was purchased by the actor James Wood. I think it was taken down. The studio was moved brick by brick to the Coleman School of Music in L.A. not far from the courthouse and open to the public. At that time Heifetz was suffering from bad injury due to too many steroid injections in his right shoulder and had surgery – think his tendons snapped. He could never hold his arm as high as he used to after that but managed very well in spite of that. So we held many classes there instead of USC.

    Judy Eaton (f6efc7)

  4. Studied with the late Israel Baker who is on a number of Heifetz chamber music recordings and was I later very lucky to take part in Heifetz Master Classes at USC

    Wow, Judy! That was lucky for sure!

    I think some of those are on YouTube. Have you ever checked them out?

    Patterico (115b1f)

  5. Isn’t today Sunday?
    You might try the String Symphonies. He wrote them in his early teens.
    He was also a talented watercolorist

    kishnevi (57338f)

  6. Isn’t today Sunday?

    Well *&^(&(*&. Day ruined.

    Presumably I knew that at some point…

    Patterico (115b1f)

  7. Yes! I’ve always told people that Mendelssohn at his best is at least as good as Mozart at his best.

    Jim S. (ef9740)

  8. Passionate and melodic!
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    Brian (29a5a4)

  9. Wow – what an informative blog site – i need to spend more time here and intend to do so

    the impossible game (1ba390)

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