Chapter

Elias

Jeffrey S. Sposato

in The Price of Assimilation

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780195149746
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199870783 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195149746.003.0006
Elias

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This chapter discusses Felix Mendelssohn's second major oratorio, Elias or Elijah. First performed in 1846, shortly before Mendelssohn's death, Elias is often interpreted as a profession of Mendelssohn's residual Jewish faith, given its Old Testament subject matter. This chapter demonstrates, however, that Elias, like Mendelssohn's Mose libretto, is a profoundly Christological work, as the life of the Biblical Elijah has been reshaped to mimic more closely the life of Christ. While not a Jewish work per se, Elijah lacks the blatant anti-Semitism found in Mendelssohn's earlier oratorio, Paulus, suggesting again that Mendelssohn tempered the anti-Semitism in his works after the death of his father, Abraham Mendelssohn.

Keywords: Abraham Mendelssohn; Judaism; Elijah; anti-Semitism; Christological

Chapter.  17027 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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