Bodleian Library logo

Collection Level Description: The Mendelssohn Papers

Reference: MSS. M. Deneke Mendelssohn
Title: The Mendelssohn Papers
Dates of Creation: mid-18th-19th cent.
Extent: 231 shelfmarks
Name of Creator: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Language of Material: German, English, and French

Administrative/Biographical History

Jacob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-47) was a German composer. See the New Grove Dictionary of Music for further details.

Scope and Content

The Mendelssohn papers comprise the correspondence of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and others; music by Mendelssohn, including autograph manuscripts, copyists' scores and vocal and instrumental parts; music by other composers owned by Mendelssohn, notably music by Bach, Handel and Beethoven; portraits and drawings of and by the composer; diaries and accounts; and family papers etc.

The shelfmarks of this collection are as follows: MSS. M. Deneke Mendelssohn a. 1-3, b. 1-14, c. 1-2, c. 4-100, d. 1-71, e. 1-19, f. 1-10, g. 1-11, MS. Autograph b. 10, MS. Don. c. 44, MS. Don. c. 151, MS. Mus. d. 210.

System of Arrangement

The papers are arranged in two parts:

Administrative Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers have been acquired mostly by donation, directly or indirectly, from descendants of the composer. Through Margaret Deneke, a collector of Mendelssohn manuscripts, the papers from the collections of two of the composer's grandchildren, Paul Benecke and Maria Wach, came to the library between 1950 and 1974. Benecke had much of Mendelssohn's music library, and the Green Books containing his correspondence. From Wach came Mendelssohn's sketchbooks, three albums containing autograph music by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, and papers relating to family and friends.

Access Conditions

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Further Information

Finding Aids

Margaret Crum and Peter Ward Jones, Catalogue of the Mendelssohn papers in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vols I-III, (Tutzing : Schneider, 1980-1989).

Related Units of Description

The Bodleian holds printed music and books of the Mendelssohn family. These have been given the prefix 'Deneke'. The majority of this large collection derives from the library of Felix and Cécile Mendelssohn Bartholdy, although considerable later additions were made, mostly by the composer's children and grandchildren, as the collection passed through the family. A portion of the music came from the library of Friedrich Wilhelm Benecke (1802-65), father-in-law of the composer's eldest daughter, Marie. For a detailed description of this collection see Peter Ward Jones Catalogue of the Mendelssohn papers in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. III, (Tutzing : Schneider, 1989).

The Library also holds the papers of the Horsley family (MSS. Eng. a. 2001, b. 2003-9, c. 2196-269, d. 2058-95, e. 2134-304), whose members were close friends of Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn autograph music manuscripts are arranged separately (MSS. Horsley b. 1, c. 1).

Access Points

Composers, German


Bartholdy | Jacobludwig Felix | Mendelssohn- | 1809-1847 | composer

Mendelssohn Bartholdy | family

Component descriptions

MSS. M. Deneke Mendelssohn
Correspondence of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and others
Language of material: German, English, and French
47 shelfmarks
Name of Creator: Felix and Cécile Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was a keen correspondent who wrote and received many letters. His incoming correspondence, 1821-47, largely preserved here intact, provides an insight into his professional and private life. It encompasses his career as a composer, and contains discussions on the composing, performing and publishing of music with several musicians and music publishers.

  • Composers and other musicians whose letters are represented here include: William Bartholomew, Sir William Sterndale Bennett, Eduard Devrient, Ferdinand David, Joseph Fischhof, Livia Frege, Aloys Fuchs, Ferdinand Hiller, Ignaz Moscheles, Clara Schumann, Louis Spohr, Wilhelm Taubert, and Karl Zelter
  • Music publishers include: Edward Buxton, Charles Coventry, Breitkopf & Härtel, Alfred Novello, and Nicolaus Simrock
  • Mendelssohn's own letters to Charles Coventry and Conrad Schleinitz.

There is also a substantial amount of correspondence with Mendelssohn's own family, and that of his wife:

  • letters from the composer's father Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy, his mother Lea Mendelssohn Bartholdy, his brother Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and his sisters Fanny Hensel and Rebecka Dirichlet
  • letters which Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Cécile, and other members of the family wrote to Cécile's family, especially to her mother, Elisabeth Jeanrenaud
  • letters from Cécile to Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, including letters written during their engagement
  • letters written to Cécile by members of the Mendelssohn family after Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy's death
  • letters written by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy to his family during his trip to Italy, France and England, 1830-2, often known as the Reisebriefe.

The Green Books also include a significant number of letters from the following: German painter Eduard Bendemann, Senator Franz Bernus, English writer and critic Henry F. Chorley, Carl August Dohrn, Heinrich Dörrien, German historian Johann Gustav Droysen, Johann Albrecht Friedrich Eichhorn, Johann Paul Von Falkenstein, Frederick IV (of Prussia), German orientalist Julius Fürst, German diplomat Karl Klingemann, lawyer Conrad Schleinitz, theologian Julius Schubring, and General Karl Von Webern.

The shelfmarks of this section are as follows: MSS. M. Deneke Mendelssohn b. 4, b. 13-14, c. 18, c. 25, c. 31-4, c. 38, c. 40-2, c. 97, d. 13, d. 18-21, d. 28-53, d. 55, MS. Autograph b. 10.

Mendelssohn himself initiated the binding of the letters he received, together with occasional drafts of his own letters, into volumes which became known as the Grüne Bücher, or Green Books. The majority of the letters, over 6000 covering the period 1821-47, are still in the Grüne Bücher, though the binding of the letters is not always in correct chronological sequence, and there are gaps in the correspondence where letters have been lost or removed; some autographs have also been cut away, by Mendelssohn himself and by others. Fortunately these problems affect only a small proportion of the series, and some of the dispersed correspondence has subsequently been obtained by the Library.

After the death of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and in 1853, of his widow Cécile, the Grüne Bücher were inherited by their eldest son Carl. After his death, in 1897, they passed to his son Dr. Albrecht Mendelssohn, who married his first cousin Dora Wach in 1905. Dora and her mother, Mendelssohn's youngest child Lili, created an index to the books. The books and index were bought from Albrecht and Dora by another of the composer's grandchildren, Paul Benecke. Later Benecke entrusted them to his friend Margaret Deneke.

It was by the will of Margaret Deneke's sister Helena, who survived her, that the Grüne Bücher became the property of the Bodleian in 1973.

Some of the separated material, as well as much of the correspondence with Cécile's family, was bought by the Library from Miss Wach, 1950-60; some material reached the Bodleian in other ways.

Finding Aids

Margaret Crum Catalogue of the Mendelssohn papers in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. I, (Tutzing : Schneider, 1980). The index to the Green Books made by Lili Wach and Dora is MS. M. Deneke Mendelssohn c. 41.

Publication Note

Peter Sutermeister Briefe einer Reise durch Deutschland, Italien und die Schweiz, und Lebensbild (Zürich, 1958).

Access Points

Composers, German | Correspondence

Composition (Music)

Music publishing

Bartholdy | Abraham | Mendelssohn- | 1776-1835 | father of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Bartholdy | Cecile | Mendelssohn- | 1817-1853 | nee Jeanrenaud | wife of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Bartholdy | Jacobludwig Felix | Mendelssohn- | 1809-1847 | composer

Bartholdy | Lea | Mendelssohn- | 1777-1842 | mother of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Bartholdy | Paul | Mendelssohn- | 1812-1874 | brother of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Bartholomew | William | 1793-1867 | chemist, painter, and musician

Bendemann | Eduard | 1811-1889 | German painter

Benecke | Paul Victor Mendelssohn | 1868-1944 | Fellow of Magdalen College Oxford

Bennett | Sir | William Sterndale | 1816-1875 | Knight | composer

Bernus | Franz | 1808-1884 | German politician

Buxton | Edward | fl 19th century | music publisher

Chorley | Henry Fothergill | 1808-1872 | English writer and critic

Coventry | Charles | fl 19th century | music publisher

David | Ferdinand | 1810-1873 | German composer

Deneke | Margaret Clara Adele | 1882-1969 | author and musicologist

Devrient | Philipp Eduard | 1801-1877 | German actor, librettist, and baritone

Dirichlet | Rebecka | 1811-1858 | nee Mendelssohn Bartholdy | sister to Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Dohrn | Carl August | 1806-1892

Dorrien | Heinrich | 1786-1858

Droysen | Johann Gustav | 1808-1884 | German historian

Eichhorn | Johann Albrecht Friedrich | 1779-1856 | German statesman

Falkenstein | Johann Paul | Von | 1801-1882 | Freiherr von Falkenstein

Fischhof | Joseph | 1805-1857 | Austrian music historian and composer

Frederick William | IV | 1795-1861 | King of Prussia

Frege | Livia | 1818-1891 | German singer

Fuchs | Aloys | 1799-1853 | Austrian musicologist

Furst | Julius | 1805-1873 | German orientalist

Hartel | Hermann | 1803-1875 | music publisher

Hensel | Fanny Cäcilie | 1805-1847 | nee Mendelssohn Bartholdy | composer, sister to Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

Hiller | Ferdinand | 1811-1885 | German composer

Klingemann | Karl | 1798-1862 | German diplomat and poet

Moscheles | Charlotte | 1805-1889 | wife of Ignaz Moscheles

Moscheles | Ignaz Isaac | 1794-1870 | composer

Novello | Joseph Alfred | 1810-1896 | music publisher

Schleinitz | Heinrich Conrad | 1802-1881 | German lawyer

Schubring | Julius | 1806-1889 | theologian

Schumann | Clara Josephine | 1819-1896 | nee Weick | musician

Simrock | Nicolaus | 1751-1868 | music publisher

Spohr | Louis | 1784-1859 | German composer

Taubert | Karl Gottfried Wilhelm | 1811-1891 | German composer

Wach | Maria | 1877-1964

Webern | Karl Emil | Von | 1790-1878 | General of the German Army

Zelter | Karl Friedrich | 1758-1832 | German composer

Jeanrenaud | family

Mendelssohn Bartholdy | family

Breitkopf & Härtel | publishers

Ewer & Co. | publishers

Novello & Co. | publishers

MSS. M. Deneke Mendelssohn
Music and papers
Language of material: German and English
184 shelfmarks
Name of Creator: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

The music and papers of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, comprising:

  • music by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, including autograph manuscripts, copyists scores and vocal and instrumental parts
  • music by other composers owned by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, including several works by Bach and Handel, notably the manuscript score and parts of Bach's St Matthew Passion used in the famous 1829 revival; and autograph music by Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart
  • portraits and drawings of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
  • drawings, mainly sketches by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, made whilst travelling in Germany, Switzerland, Scotland, North Wales and Italy, 1822-47, with some copies of drawings made by Marie Benecke, 1893-4. The sketches of the Scotch tour are accompanied by some autograph verses of Karl Klingemann
  • drawings by Cécile Mendelssohn Bartholdy, including a drawing book used by Cécile before her marriage, and during her honeymoon journey in 1837
  • miscellaneous papers, including notebooks used by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy as a student, [c. 1822-7]
  • diaries and accounts: pocket-books, 1829-47, containing, mostly, brief diary entries, drawings and drafts of music; diaries of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy's engagements, 1836-7; the diary of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Cécile on their honeymoon, 1837; and various account books, 1833-47
  • libretti, words of choral works, poems etc. mid 19th century
  • diplomas, 1833-48
  • papers belonging to Cécile Mendelssohn Bartholdy and family, 19th century

Additional manuscripts collected by Margaret Deneke, unconnected with Mendelssohn, include autograph works by Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Reger, and Hugo Wolf; and a letter of Joseph Haydn.

The shelfmarks of this section are as follows: MSS. M. Deneke Mendelssohn a. 1-3, b. 1-3, b. 5-12, c. 1-2, c. 4-17, c. 19-24, c. 26-30, c. 35-7, c. 39, c. 43-96, c. 98-100, d. 1-12, d. 14-17, d. 22-7, d. 54, d. 56-71, e. 1-19, f.12-10, g. 1-11, MS. Don. c. 44, MS. Don. c. 151, MS. Mus. d. 210.

Much of this material was gifted to the Library by Helen Deneke. Some items were given by others, and others purchased. Occasional additions continue to be made, most notably the purchase of the 'Hebrides' Overture in 2002.

Finding Aids

Margaret Crum Catalogue of the Mendelssohn papers in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. II, (Tutzing : Schneider, 1983).

Access Points

Music | 19th century

Voyages and travels | Diaries

Diaries | 19th century

Bach | Johann Sebastian | 1685-1750 | German organist, composer, and master contrapuntist

Bartholdy | Cecile | Mendelssohn- | 1817-1853 | wife of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy | nee Jeanrenaud

Bartholdy | Jacobludwig Felix | Mendelssohn- | 1809-1847 | composer

Beethoven | Ludwig Van | 1770-1827 | German composer

Brahms | Johannes | 1833-1897 | composer and pianist

Handel | George Frederick | 1685-1759 | musical composer

Haydn | Franz Joseph | 1732-1809 | Austrian composer

Klingemann | Karl | 1798-1862 | German diplomat and poet

Mozart | Wolfgang Amadeus Chrysostom | 1756-1791 | Austrian composer

Reger | Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian | 1873-1916 | German composer

Schubert | Franz Peter | 1797-1828 | Austrian composer

Schumann | Robert | 1810-1856 | German composer

Wolf | Hugo Philipp Jakob | 1860-1903 | Austrian composer

Germany | Description and travel

Italy | Description and travel

Scotland | Description and travel

Switzerland | Description and travel

Wales | Description and travel

Contact Information
Search Online Catalogues

Consulting material: To consult archives and manuscripts, a full and unrestricted Bodleian reader's card (Group A) is required. You should apply for your card at the Admissions Office.

Pre-ordering: Before your visit you may order up to ten items by emailing Please be advised that some collection material is held offsite; we advise pre-ordering at least two working days before your visit to ensure material is available on your arrival.

Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
09 June 2011