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Mendelssohn Plays Beethoven's Fifth for Goethe

In May 1830, Felix Mendelssohn sent a letter to his family describing a visit to Goethe. I apologize to the letter's translator. I copied this excerpt from the letter years ago (long before the Internet went commercial), and I did not write down the source. But the letter is just too good not to share. Today Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth is almost a cliche; Goethe gives us a different perspective.

"Goethe is so friendly and affable with me that I do not know how to thank him or deserve it. This morning he made me play the piano for him for about an hour, pieces from all the great composers, in chronological order, and tell him how they had worked at them; while he sat in a dark corner, like Jupiter tonans, and his old eyes flashed lightning. He would have none of Beethoven. But I told him I could not help that, and thereupon played him the first movement of the C minor Symphony. That affected him strangely. At first he said, 'But it does not move one at all; it merely astounds; it is grandiose,' and then went on growling to himself, until after a long time he began again: 'That is very great, quite mad, one is almost afraid the house will fall down; and only imagine when they are all playing together!' And at table, in the middle of talking about something else, he began again about it."

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