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Mendelssohn's Instrumental Music

Structure and Style

Erez Rapoport
August 7, 2013

182 pp.

1 illustrations

ISBN: 978-1576472118

Paperback 7X10 $48.00

Purchase on Boydell & Brewer


What is it that makes Mendelssohn's music recognizably unique? This study hopes to make a contribution to the answer through an analysis of an extensive sample of Mendelssohn's instrumental music.

I identify a compositional practice which I believe to be a hallmark of his style: the smoothing over of formal junctures of various types. By and large, Mendelssohn's dynamic treatment of formal junctures reflects a general concern with enhancing continuity and momentum in longer forms, a compositional issue that has always presented a challenge to composers in the Western music tradition.

The main purpose of our investigation, then, is to delineate the specific techniques that Mendelssohn used in his characteristic effort to bridge over formal divisions. Many of Mendelssohn's works reveal this clear (and evidently deliberate) propensity to create larger continuities by means of bridging over divisions, regardless of the formal prototype or level of structure. At the same time, an almost Mozartian clarity of form often is preserved. This might at first seem contradictory, but Mendelssohn, as I shall attempt to demonstrate, was able to find ingenious ways of having his cake and eating it, too.

- From The Introduction

IMPORTANT NOTE: Corrigenda: The opening of Chapter 6 in this book is misnumbered and should start on page 155. Please disregard the issuing pages 155 and 156.


Erez Rapoport:

Music theorist and teacher, died in Tel Aviv on November 23, 2009. Erez was born in November of 1959 in Ein Gedi, Israel. His early musical education was in Israel: he studied at Tel Aviv University and privately with Menachem Wiesenberg. In 1985 he transferred to the Mannes College of Music in New York, receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in 1987 and a Master of Music degree the following year. Erez was the first graduate student at Mannes to major in theory. He entered the PhD Program of the City University of New York in the fall of 1988.

Upon finishing his course work and exams, he returned to Israel to teach. He was on the faculties of the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music of Tel Aviv University and Lewinsky College. He wrote the present book after completing his doctorate in 2004.