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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: Aesthetic and Ideological Trends in the Reception of Mendelssohn's Music in Nineteenth-Century Germany
Degree Type: PhD
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Supervisor(s): Dr James Garratt
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: October 2008
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Other
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 Volume
Related Publications: ‘Mendelssohn’s “Untergang”: Reconsidering the Impact of Wagner’s “Das Judentum in der Musik”’– book chapter Mendelssohn in the Long Nineteenth Century, eds. Jacqueline Waeber and Nicole Grimes (Ashgate, forthcoming).
‘Composer and Critic: The Mendelssohn-Marx Relationship Reconsidered’, Proceedings of the First Annual Conference of the Society for Musicology in Ireland (2004), 65-71.
‘Hero or Has Been? Mendelssohn Reception in England and Germany in the 1840s’, British Postgraduate Musicology Online 6 (2004).
Time Frame: 1824-1870
Abstract: This dissertation investigates trends in the critical reception of the music of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in the second and third quarters of the nineteenth century; more precisely, from the earliest reviews of his works to appear in the German musical press (1824) up to the controversy provoked by Wagner’s ‘Judaism in Music’ (1869). The reasons for this fifty-year span are twofold: first, to consider the changing dynamics in critical reactions towards the composer in greater detail than a broader time frame would afford; and second, to avoid the historical determinism present in our existing picture, which assumes a direct link between the anti-Semitic dimension of Mendelssohn reception in the 1850s and the composer’s treatment in the Third Reich. In identifying and explaining changes in the reception of Mendelssohn’s output, this study explores some of the aesthetic and ideological issues shaping its evaluation. As such, it touches on many aspects of nineteenth-century thought and culture. In addition to revising and clarifying the existing picture of Mendelssohn’s reception, secondary outcomes of this study include an elucidation of the aesthetic stances and competing agendas of a diverse selection of polemicists and critics such as Adolf Bernhard Marx, Eduard Hanslick, Eduard Krüger, Heinrich Heine, Robert Schumann, Franz Brendel, Richard Wagner, Richard Pohl, Peter Cornelius, Franz Liszt, Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl, Emil Naumann and Felix Draeseke. Thus, this dissertation aims to contribute to our broader understanding of music criticism and aesthetic discourse in this period.

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Current Institution Affiliation: University of Manchester

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