The tasks of the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft as set out in its statutes include “the collection of documents, letters, manuscripts, works of art, mementoes, books, and other objects, for the purpose of publishing them independently or with the assistance of third parties, or of making them accessible to the public as originals or as copies, for example via the Mendelssohn Archive kept by the Staatsbibliothek Berlin Preussischer Kulturbesitz (State Library of the Berlin Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation)” (Section 2).
Usually, this source material is acquired from booksellers or art dealers, and often at auctions. In other instances, these records are gifted to our association by members of the Mendelssohn family or by sponsors. In particular, autographs, original illustrations, and rare editions are handed over to the Staatsbibliothek, where they are kept in the Mendelssohn Archive and made accessible to researchers. In this way, the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft became the first association to sponsor the Staatsbibliothek following World War II. The acquisitions were presented to the public in three exhibitions held in 1976, 1987, and 1992/93.
In 2003, Ingeborg Stolzenberg, former chairwoman of the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft published the most comprehensive index thus far of the Mendelssohn archival materials compiled by Hans-Günter Klein in “Das Mendelssohn-Archiv der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. Bestandsübersicht” (Inventory of Archival Materials of the Mendelssohn Archive kept by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin). The depository comprises hundreds of individual artifacts, among them note manuscripts and letters by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and a part of the estate of Nathan Mendelssohn. the maker of scientific instruments.
The branch of the Staatsbibliothek library in Potsdamer Strasse displays documents, paintings, and objects illustrative of the history of Moses Mendelssohn’s descendants in a permanent exhibition with changing content.
In 1972, the historian Cécile Lowenthal-Hensel, chairwoman of the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft at the time, founded the series “Mendelssohn-Studien,” a scientific journal published on commission of the Society. Published every two years since 1993, the volumes with the subtitle “Contributions to Recent German Cultural and Economic History” (since 2007, this has been abridged to “Cultural History”) contain essays and publications of sources on the history of the Mendelssohn family, their cultural, musical, scientific, economic, and political activities, as well as on the societal environment in which they lived.
Some of these volumes were dedicated to special anniversaries concerning the most important representatives of the Mendelssohn family: volume 4 (1979) commemorated the 250th birthday of Moses Mendelssohn, volume 10 (1997) was published on the 150th anniversary of the deaths of Fanny Hensel and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, while volume 16 (2009) honored the bicentennial birthday of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Volume 8 (1993) was a Festschrift (commemorative publication) honoring the 70th birthday of the founder of the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft, Cécile Lowenthal-Hensel.
2009 marked the first time that the Mendelssohn-Studien were supplemented by a special volume. The most recent to appear is Special Volume 3 (2015), which contains the articles written for the conference held in 2012 in honor of “250 Years of the Mendelssohn Family”.
The Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft sponsors the publication of the Mendelssohn-Studien and of the special volumes by subsidizing the printing costs. Other publications on Mendelssohn topics may likewise be subsidized by grants from the Society in individual cases.
Anyone interested in delving deeper into the history of the Mendelssohns, their cultural, musical, scientific, economic, and political legacy as well as their social milieu, will find plenty of suggestions for further reading in our comprehensive Mendelssohn bibliography. Organized into general overviews of the family and presentations of individual family members, it serves as a reference guide for the researcher as well as the layperson.
Valuable information on related topics can also be found in the essays published in the Mendelssohn-Studien series.
The following are available for download (in German):
- Inhaltsverzeichnisse der Bände 1-16,
- der Bände 17-19 sowie der Sonderbände 1-3,
- die Register der Bände 14-16, der Bände 17-19 sowie des Sonderbandes 3.