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The Price of AssimilationFelix Mendelssohn and the Nineteenth-Century Anti-Semitic Tradition$
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Jeffrey S. Sposato

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195149746

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195149746.001.0001

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(p.3) Introduction
The Price of Assimilation

Jeffrey S. Sposato

Oxford University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the so-called “Mendelssohn Jewish Question”. Many commentators have assumed that since Felix Mendelssohn was born Jewish and set many Old Testament subjects to music, he retained a strong attachment to Judaism throughout his lifetime. Some of the anti-Semitic criticism Mendelssohn experienced is explored. Mendelssohn's numerous Psalm settings are discussed, showing that the composer's setting of these Biblical passages does not prove that he retained an affinity for Judaism. The chapter concludes by distinguishing between anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism.

Keywords:   Old Testament, Psalms, anti-Semitism, anti-Judaism

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