Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mendelssohn and the Music Within

[Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy to Concertmeister Ferdinand David]

Berlin, July 30, 1838.

Dear David:
. . . I intend in a few days to begin to write out my symphony, and to complete it in a short time, probably while I am still here. I should also like to write a violin concerto for you next winter. One in E minor runs in my head, the beginning of which gives me no peace. My symphony shall certainly be as good as I can make it, but whether it will be popular and played on the barrel-organs, I cannot tell. I feel that in every fresh piece I succeed better in learning to write exactly what is in my heart, and, after all, that is the only right rule I know. If I am not adapted for popularity, I will not try to acquire it, nor seek after it; and if you think this wrong, then I ought rather to say I cannot seek after it, for really I cannot, but would not if I could. What proceeds from within, makes me glad in its outward workings also, and therefore it would be very gratifying to me were I able to fulfil the wish you and my friends express; but I can do nothing toward it or about it. So much in my path has fallen to my share without my having even once thought of it, and without any effort on my part, that perhaps it may be the case with this also; if not, I shall not grumble on the subject, but console myself by knowing that I did what I could, according to my best powers and my best judgment. I have your sympathy, and your delight in my works and also that of some valued friends. More could scarcely be desired. A thousand thanks, then, for your kind expressions and for all your friendship toward me.
[Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy]
-from The Master Classics: Letters (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1929) p. 180-81.

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