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#1253173 - 08/21/09 06:08 AM Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread  
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Why does there seem to be so little discussion of Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and his works around here?

I admittedly know almost nothing about him. Sure, I know he was a composer from the 19th century, but I had never ventured into playing any of his works or listening carefully to them until someone mentioned they could play op. 19, no. 6 which I listened to and fell in love with. Now I'm enamoured by all of op. 19 and am striving to learn at least a few of the Songs Without Words.

Felix Mendelssohn wikipedia entry

Feel free to discuss his works, his life, what you're working on or struggling with and anything else related to the composer here. I for one, am a big fan now and know his piano works will always be on my list of potential repertoire choices.

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#1253225 - 08/21/09 07:56 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: HomeInMyShoes]  
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I love Mendelssohn's piano music. I have Martin Jones' set of the complete piano music. There's some wonderful music there besides the SWWs.

#1253234 - 08/21/09 08:08 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: moscheles001]  
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also be sure to check out the violin concerto in E, it's gorgeous music!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLKXD_Ar5CM

I had the pleasure to see it live last week along with his Ouvert├╝re to A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was very impressive...

Last edited by Bunneh; 08/21/09 08:09 AM.

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#1253363 - 08/21/09 11:23 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Bunneh]  
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Also check out Barry Targan's short story, "Harry Belton and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto." A very funny story.

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#1253429 - 08/21/09 01:06 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: moscheles001]  
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I'm a huge Mendelssohn fan. Just the other night, I was putting the kids to bed, and started flipping through TV channels. PBS had Joshua Bell playing the Violin Concerto... I made the kids get out of bed, and come watch it with me. 2 of the 3 feel asleep within about 5 minutes, but still...

I've been playing piano for only about a year and half, and my progress is steady. I had hoped one day to play some of the Songs without Words, but have chalked that up to "some day way in the future". I'd be delighted to learn I'm wrong on this, and that there are some approachable pieces for beginners.

Am I?


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#1253615 - 08/21/09 06:03 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Always Wanted to Play Piano]  
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^Not beginner, but there's some reasonable intermediate ones to work out. Give yourself another year and a half. My edition lists the following for intermediate: 9,4,2,6,12,14,48,25,28,33,19,35. I'd say the first half of that list would probably be attainable after the three year period based on what I heard at the recital. Of course, I didn't see how difficult that was to work out or how your playing was tension-wise.

I'd ideally like to work through op. 19, but that would be a stretch for me. 3 and 5 would be a struggle.

The Songs Without Words has been on my music stand for the last three months and I don't see it moving any time soon. So much stuff to work through.

Last edited by HomeInMyShoes; 08/21/09 06:05 PM.
#1253878 - 08/22/09 05:37 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Always Wanted to Play Piano]  
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You can try the Children's Pieces, Op. 72.

#1253888 - 08/22/09 06:41 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: moscheles001]  
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The songs without words are more intermediate. I have just finished Op19.2 which is a Grade6/7 piece and pretty tricky, but its well worth the effort! It took me about nine months to learn, but then I only practice about half an hour, 5 times a week or so!

I've had lessons for about 5 out of the last 8 years, so maybe you could try in a year or two?

Op 30 no 3 is a lot easier although some of the chords are trying - might be one to try first? I think its no 9.

Regards, they are lovely pieces, nice to hear I'm not the only one who admires them wishfully!


Irmler grand 5'3"
Grade 8 flute and voice, working on Grade 7 piano and beginner on the lever harp!
#1256595 - 08/26/09 02:17 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Collyermum]  
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^op. 19, no. 2 is nice. Any chance we can hear a recording of you playing? I think it's moved up to number two on my list to learn.

From my edition of the Songs without Words, Mendelssohn is quoted as saying/writing:

"There is much talk about music, and yet so little is said. For my part, I believe that words are insufficient for such a purpose, and if I found they were sufficient, I would wish to have nothing more to do with music. People frequently complain that music is too ambiguous: that it is unclear to them what they should be thinking about whtn they hear it, whereas everyone understands words. For me, it is exactly the reverse. And that is not only for an entire speech, but even for individual words. These seem to me to be ambiguous, vague, and so easily misunderstood in comparison with real music which fills the soul with a thousand things expressed better than with words.

The thoughts I find expressed in music that I love are not too indefinite, but on the contrary, too definite to put into words. ... If you ask me what I was thinking when I wrote a certain piece, I would say: the song, just the song, as it stands. And if I should have happened to have certain words in mind for one or another of these songs, I would not like to tell them to anyone, because the same words never mean the same things to different people. Only the song can say the same thing and arouse the same feelings in one person as in another -- a feeling that cannot be expressed, however, by the same words."(1)

(1) Seldon-Goth, G., ed. Felix Mendelssohn Letters. New York: Kraus Reprint, 1969.


Interesting. I suppose one would expect him to be rolling over in his grave over the word titles attributed to the Songs without Words.

#1262334 - 09/04/09 11:34 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: HomeInMyShoes]  
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Check out the Mendelssohn Project website. The list of unpublished works is huge.

http://www.themendelssohnproject.org

#1262432 - 09/04/09 01:49 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: moscheles001]  
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It's a shame we didn't put on a recital in honor of his bicentennial. frown


Bach - WTC I in C major & C minor (BWV 846-847)
Mozart - Sonata K 282
Chopin - Polonaises Op 26
Schumann - Fantasiest├╝cke Op 12
#1262506 - 09/04/09 03:52 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: HomeInMyShoes]  
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I'm still working on getting it to sound how I want it to, as I learnt it on my Clavinova and I've just moved to my new acoustic, so I'm having to adapt a little! Thanks for asking though! Maybe later...!


Irmler grand 5'3"
Grade 8 flute and voice, working on Grade 7 piano and beginner on the lever harp!
#1262516 - 09/04/09 04:10 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: moscheles001]  
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The Netherlands, Grootegast-Gr...
The too young died componist......only 38 years old, the same range of short lifes and same emotions like Robert Schumann.

I particularly like the religious work of Felix B:
O for the wings of a dove; Hear my prayer-Psalm 55
I waited for the Lord from Lobgesang.....

Nice melodies, full of religious emotions; as ex-churchorganist (now pianist) I feel this music from my head to my toes, I like it.

Best regards,
Johan B


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#1262519 - 09/04/09 04:16 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Johan B]  
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Booktip for intermediate to advanced pianolevel:

The essential collection Mendelssohn Gold / Kate Bradley /Chester music, London 2004

www.musicsales.com

hmmmm......does not seem to work......well google Chestermusic...

Last edited by Johan B; 09/04/09 04:25 PM.

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#1262625 - 09/04/09 08:24 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Johan B]  
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^Is this what you are looking at?

The Essential Collection: Mendelssohn Gold

#1262790 - 09/05/09 03:35 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: HomeInMyShoes]  
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Originally Posted by HomeInMyShoes
^Is this what you are looking at?

The Essential Collection: Mendelssohn Gold


Thanks for the completion....

Johan B


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#1262805 - 09/05/09 05:08 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Johan B]  
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Among my favorite Mendelssohn is Op 17. Beautiful pieces; the first shows Bach's influence very clearly, and it's well within an intermediate player's grasp.

#1283070 - 10/08/09 12:24 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: moscheles001]  
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I love the Songs Without Words. I just bought the complete Schirmer Edition (it was on sale) and it is embarrassing how they are all named. I suppose the editor came up with the names? Things like "The Fleecy Cloud" and "Sadness of Soul". I don't think Mendelssohn intended any of that.

I am currently working on op 19 #4, and will probably submit that at the next ABF recital. I have a long list of them that I want to learn though.

And I just recently found out that he was an artist as well as a musician. Here's a sketch he did of the Thomasschule in Leipzig

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#1283074 - 10/08/09 12:27 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Sam S]  
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What a nice sketch! I love the clarity of it - wouldn't mind having a print of this in my office -

Oh! Now I do smile I just right clicked and printed the picture. It's small, but I can hang it on a short dividing wall. Thanks, Sam.

Cathy


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#1283076 - 10/08/09 12:30 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: jotur]  
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His "Scottish" symphony is one of my favorites! His Op14 Rondo Capriccioso and Emi Scherzo are great piano pieces as well.


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#1283080 - 10/08/09 12:36 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: jotur]  
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If you do a google search for Mendelssohn art or Mendelssohn paintings or Mendelssohn drawings you can find several more.

Sam

#1283107 - 10/08/09 01:13 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Sam S]  
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I love his Op19 no2, it has a very sadness to it, and the ending with the last hearbeats, almost if someone died, or he was thinking of death. The piece has great meaning to me. His venetian boat songs are also amazing if played well, and lets not forget his amazing Albumblatt (which is much more beautifull if not played at full speed, imo). He was truly one of the greatest!


Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)
#1283117 - 10/08/09 01:31 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Victor25]  
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Harold Schoenberg's "The Great Pianists" has some good information on Mendelssohn as a virtuoso pianist. The entire book is a fun read.

#1283309 - 10/08/09 07:52 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: moscheles001]  
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@Sam Smith: I'm working on op. 19 no. 4 as well. It's a wonderful piece. I'm also working on no. 2 and still keeping no. 6 in reasonable shape. I'll probably just do something else for the recital though. I'm not completely happy with the sixteenth note passages.

#1283529 - 10/09/09 06:52 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: HomeInMyShoes]  
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Originally Posted by HomeInMyShoes
@Sam Smith: I'm working on op. 19 no. 4 as well. It's a wonderful piece. I'm also working on no. 2 and still keeping no. 6 in reasonable shape. I'll probably just do something else for the recital though. I'm not completely happy with the sixteenth note passages.


Yes, the 16th note introduction is tough. I thought I was playing it OK until I listened to a recording. My right hand thumb is too heavy and loud - all the 16th notes are not of equal importance. The thumb notes should be subdued and the upper notes brought out more. Easy to say - hard to do.

And, of course, the intro is repeated at the end, so there are two opportunities to screw it up.

Have you posted a recording of 19/6? I'd love to hear it. Here's a question - are all of his Venetian boat songs in 3 (or 6) and a minor key?

Sam

#1283708 - 10/09/09 10:49 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Sam S]  
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thanks for the tip on the drawings, Sam - I'll look for them.

Cathy


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#1284177 - 10/10/09 04:24 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Sam S]  
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EDIT: thought I had pushed quote from Sam Smith.

All the Venetians are in 6/8 and all are minor as well.

A few misses in it, but reasonable: Mendelssohn op. 19, no. 6

For op. 19, no. 4, I'm okay with the thumbs in the 16th note passages, it's the transition in bar three just prior to the dim. that is usually my downfall. I've been drilling that over and over a lot. For op. 19, no. 2 it's down to a few two bar parts really. I'd probably be done both if I spent more time practicing than playing.

Last edited by HomeInMyShoes; 10/10/09 04:26 AM.
#1284197 - 10/10/09 06:23 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: HomeInMyShoes]  
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Originally Posted by HomeInMyShoes
EDIT: thought I had pushed quote from Sam Smith.

All the Venetians are in 6/8 and all are minor as well.

A few misses in it, but reasonable: Mendelssohn op. 19, no. 6

For op. 19, no. 4, I'm okay with the thumbs in the 16th note passages, it's the transition in bar three just prior to the dim. that is usually my downfall. I've been drilling that over and over a lot. For op. 19, no. 2 it's down to a few two bar parts really. I'd probably be done both if I spent more time practicing than playing.


Very nice job on 19/6. I remember listening to it before now. You do a good job bringing out the melody, something I always have a problem with.

I know what you mean about playing as opposed to practicing. I get caught up in the music and don't want to stop and work on a troublesome section.

My problem with 19/4 is, for instance, measure 2. The repeated "a" by the right hand thumb is too prominent.

What edition are you using? I just bought the Schirmer (editor: Sternberg) and I have some problems with the way the music is crowded on the page. Also the odd titles that have been given to everything (19/4 is "Confidence"), but that has nothing to do with the ease of reading the music. The fingerings are reasonable, but it seems a little heavy on the pedal.

Sam

#1284266 - 10/10/09 10:05 AM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: Sam S]  
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Alfred Masterworks (Maurice Hinson) edition. I am very comfortable with the note density and visual contrast in Alfred's series. It has a spiral binding and some nice notes for teachers on the order of relative difficulties (your mileage may vary) and some reasonable words about each piece. Your pedal comment is interesting since it says here that "Pedal usage must be very subtle."

I used to have heavy thumbs (still do some times) and I am not sure what made it go away other than practice.

I only look at pedaling for where they say not to in general and then after I'm at the 90% happy phase I will listen to some recordings and start varying the tempo and playing things oddly to see what I like. I have gotten better over time at not pedaling as much, but I am still a bit of a lead-foot driver. smile

Titles. I mentioned before that Mendelssohn only named a few of the Songs Without Words, but now almost all of them have titles. I wish they weren't titled. There is too much baggage associated with words. Regrets, there is a loaded word for a title.

I really want to learn op. 53 no. 5 some day, but I've got such a gigantic list of pieces to learn and so little time.

#1285488 - 10/12/09 12:52 PM Re: Mendelssohn Appreciation Thread [Re: HomeInMyShoes]  
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Originally Posted by HomeInMyShoes
Your pedal comment is interesting since it says here that "Pedal usage must be very subtle."



I agree with Sam.

From a free podcast for my grade 5 (RIAM). Here they do an overview of the piece. The guy explaining is from the examining board.
http://www.box.net/shared/7ae980ra0q

I have this piece for grade 5. I'm starting it soon. Unfortunately using it for my exam expires by the time I'll take my first exam but I'm learning it anyway.

I'll pm his rendition of the piece.


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