Tonight the New York Philharmonic begins the first of three "Elijah" performances. They should all be magnificent, on purely aesthetic grounds. But there's a deep theological divide embedded in this work too, and one that has profound implications for our understanding of how Jewish a composer -- if one at all -- Felix Mendelssohn was.
Was the German composer’s oratorio a nod toward his Jewish ancestry — or the full fruition of his Christian identity?
When the New York Philharmonic performs Felix Mendelssohn’s rarely heard “Elijah” (1846) oratorio this weekend, many will no doubt see it as proof that the composer always identified with his family’s Jewish faith.