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Reminiscences of Felix Mendelsssohn-Bartholdy

Elise Polko –

A significant work originally published in 1869. Polko offers a contemporary interpretation of Mendelssohn’s genius as it related to his life and times in the early nineteenth century. Writing in the romantic style of the period, the author conveys the excitement surrounding Mendelssohn the composer, conductor, and pianist. German nineteenth century romanticism is in evidence, but the reader will note the classical ideals so much admired by Mendelssohn, Göethe, and Zelter — Mendelssohn’s teacher.

Today’s reader will meet some of the most important musicians in Germany in the nineteenth century, including violinists Joseph Joachim and Ferdinand David, whose first-hand and vivid account of the composer’s death appears in this book. Included are a number of letters written to English correspondents from a collection of seven thousand letters of and about the composer, letters which serve as prime source material for scholars.

“Polko, an important German novelist, poet, and musician of her day, studied singing under Felix Mendelssohn. Polko’s work was originally published in 1869. The new unabridged re-publication of the English translation is therefore a valuable resource in that it represents primary source materials, including opinions and testimonies of many of Mendelssohn’s well-known contemporaries. . . this is a significant reprint of a work that has established its niche in the literature of Mendelssohniana. . . .” Choice

“This is a welcome reprint of a memoir of Mendelssohn by a German contemporary originally published in 1869. It offers a sympathetic portrait of the composer, who lived in the age of romanticism in German music and whose own music remains a cherished part of the permanent repertoire. Elise Polko worked with the composer and imparted to her biography a personal touch which adds a vital dimension to her portrait. . . [Mendelssohn] remains a lucid, disciplined composer whose pellucid music has stood the test of time.” John Barkham Reviews

ELISE POLKO was born in Leipzig in 1823. She was a German novelist, poet, and musical amateur who from her youth fell under the spell of Felix Mendelssohn. Following Mendelssohn’s death, the author interviewed dozens of musicians and family friends, recording their reminiscences of Mendelssohn in detail. Polko was an important and prolific writer of her day. Her love and dedication to Mendelssohn resulted in this work that can assist the modern reader to understand the cultural cross-currents of the early nineteenth century.


Cloth, 222 pages, 6×9
LC 87-81563
ISBN 0-944435-01-7
Alternate selection of
Pathway Book Clubs,
Music Book Society

List price $24.95
Our price $18.72


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