(Fast Without Motion) Felix and Moses (Mendelssohn)

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On the drive home to New York a couple months back I caught an episode of David Dubal’s Romantic Piano on WQXR. I don’t like very much 19th C. romantic repertoire, but I stuck around to listen because Dubal is incredibly smart and interesting and that week he was talking about and playing Felix Mendelssohn. I was particularly caught by how Dubal described Mendelssohn’s style. The most mild and restrained of the romantics, his was rich, gentle, and elegant, not like Schumann and the rest. What struck me as remarkable was this description of the body and of pace in Mendelssohn’s music. Mendelssohn “played with little arm movement, curved fingers and he was sparse in using of the pedals. He also favored quick tempos. His music was as transparent as Mozart’s, each note requiring an unusual precision.” The description of the music and the style of thought reminded me immediately of his grandfather, Moses. 

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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