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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.58) 3 Moses
The Price of Assimilation

Jeffrey S. Sposato

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores Felix Mendelssohn's collaboration with the critic and composer Adolf Bernhard Marx. Mendelssohn agreed in 1832 to write a libretto for Marx's oratorio Mose (first performed in 1841, with a different libretto). Marx rejected the libretto that Mendelssohn provided, for an oratorio Mendelssohn called Moses, ending their collaboration and friendship. This chapter suggests that Marx's actions stemmed from his discomfort with the anti-Semitism in Mendelssohn's libretto. Because of his famous Jewish grandfather, the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn felt the need to distance himself from Judaism in his works, and included anti-Semitic content in the Mose libretto. Mendelssohn's libretto also deployed the Old Testament story of Moses in a Christological manner, using it to remind the listener of New Testament events, and followed the anti-Semitic tradition of oratorio composers Carl Loewe and Louis Spohr.

Keywords:   Moses Mendelssohn, Adolf Bernhard Marx, Mose, anti-Semitism, Christological, Carl Loewe, Louis Spohr

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