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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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Elias

Elias

Chapter:
(p.114) 5 Elias
Source:
The Price of Assimilation
Author(s):

Jeffrey S. Sposato

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195149746.003.0006

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

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