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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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Matters of Perspective

(p.177) Conclusion
The Price of Assimilation

Jeffrey S. Sposato

Oxford University Press

This concluding chapter reviews the overall argument of the book. It summarizes how Mendelssohn's early sacred works, including his edition of The St. Matthew Passion, his unused libretto for Marx's Mose, and his first major oratorio, Paulus, all participated in a 19th-century anti-Semitic musical tradition. However, following the death of Mendelssohn's father, Abraham Mendelssohn, in 1835, Mendelssohn began tempering the anti-Semitism in his work. While never expressing an affinity for Judaism, as some have argued, Mendelssohn discovered ways to express the sincerity of his Christian faith without having to disparage Judaism in the process. For this reason, his later sacred works, and especially his oratorio Elijah, have found popularity among Jewish and Christian audiences alike.

Keywords:   Abraham Mendelssohn, St. Matthew Passion, Mose, Paulus, Elijah, anti-Semitism

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