Was Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847) a great composer? On its face, the question seems absurd. One of the most gifted prodigies in the history of music, he produced his first masterpiece at sixteen. From then on, he was recognized as an artist of preternatural abilities, not only as a composer but also as a pianist and conductor. But Mendelssohn’s enduring popularity has often been at odds — sometimes quite sharply — with his critical standing. Despite general acknowledgment of his genius, there has been a noticeable reluctance to rank him with, say, Schumann or Brahms. As Haggin put it, Mendelssohn, as a composer, was a “minor master…working on a small scale of emotion and texture.”
1. Select a sentence in the passage whose function is to indicate the range of Mendelssohn’s musical talents.
2. The passage suggests that anyone attempting to evaluate Mendelssohn’s career must confront which of the following dichotomies?
A. The tension between Mendelssohn’s career as a composer and his career as a pianist and conductor
B. The contrast between Mendelssohn’s popularity and that of Schumann and Brahms
C. The discrepancy between Mendelssohn’s popularity and his standing among critics
D. The inconsistency between Mendelssohn’s reputation during his lifetime and his reputation since his death
E. The gap between Mendelssohn’s prodigious musical beginnings and his decline in later years.
3. The author mentions Schumann and Brahms primarily in order to
A. provide examples of composers who are often compared with Mendelssohn
B. identify certain composers who are more popular than Mendelssohn
C. identify composers whom Mendelssohn influenced
D. establish the milieu in which Mendelssohn worked
E. establish a standard of comparison for Mendelssohn as a composer