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Rethinking Mendelssohn$
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Benedict Taylor

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190611781

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190611781.001.0001

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Mendelssohn and the Idea of the North

Mendelssohn and the Idea of the North

(p.115) 5 Mendelssohn and the Idea of the North
Rethinking Mendelssohn

Sarah Clemmens Waltz

Oxford University Press

This chapter re-evaluates Felix Mendelssohn’s ‘Scottish’ works by placing them in the context of the early-nineteenth-century North German view of Scotland, especially as channelled through Mendelssohn’s mentors Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Carl Friedrich Zelter. Such interest in Scotland was undergirded by a belief in a shared German-Celtic past and a sense that Scottish culture was not exotic but rather essentially German. Figures in Mendelssohn’s circle participated in deliberate attempts to claim a general northern antiquity for German culture, using arguments concerning the relationship of climate, race, and character. A recontextualization of Scotland as representing a lost German past may signal additional reinterpretations of Mendelssohn’s anticipations of travel, his travel experiences, and his statements concerning folk song, as well as his Fantasy, Op. 28, originally titled Sonate écossaise.

Keywords:   Felix Mendelssohn, Fantasy in F sharp minor, Scotland, Scottishness, Ossian, folk song, north/south divide, climatological argument

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