FELIX MENDELSSOHN by Herbert Kupferberg


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It is not altogether clear what motivated Herbert Kupferberg to rewrite The Mendelssohns: Three Generations of Genius (p. 47). Perhaps while cleaning up the debris from his adult biography he came across some notes and illustrations which he had forgotten to include -- for, to be fair, there are occasional bits of new material in this treatment of Felix Mendelssohn, newly written for a YA audience. Kupferberg quotes himself (no footnotes, though) when introducing the younger reader to Moses Mendelssohn, ""Philosopher, author and emancipator of the Jews"" and grandfather of Felix. His rise from the ghetto and above the anti-semitism of 18th-century Germany is granted relatively less space here than in the first book, as is the section devoted to Felix's father Abraham, the ""human hyphen."" The author's description of the short (he died at 38) though charmed life of Felix, the child prodigy, musician, composer, conductor, teacher and founder of the Leipzig Conservatory is basically interesting, readable, and well researched. The book concludes with a chapter describing Mendelssohn's music and a note on recordings, but omits the bibliography included in the earlier book. Taken on its own merits, Felix Mendelssohn will be a worthwhile addition to a YA collection. But its simplifications and occasional condescensions make it an inferior work to its ""father"" which would be an even better choice.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1972
Publisher: Scribners