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New Release of the Week: 'In Sara Levy's Salon'

Classical IPR’s New Release of the Week is an album that celebrates the woman who created the link between Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn. The album is called In Sara Levy’s Salon.


Felix Mendelssohn is credited with reviving interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach during the 1820s and 1830s. Bach had died in 1750, and his music was nearly forgotten until Mendelssohn brought it to the public’s attention. But how did Mendelssohn find out about Bach in the first place?


The connection was the result of Mendelssohn’s great aunt Sara Levy. Sara was a sister to Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn’s grandmother, Bella. In the 1770s, Sara Levy studied the harpsichord with Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s eldest son. W. F. Bach introduced Levy to the music of his father.


Sara Levy and her husband Samuel hosted a salon at their home with regular performances. They also had a sizeable music library, including several J. S. Bach manuscripts. The music on this album includes pieces that Levy kept in her personal collection. It is believed that she commissioned or played several of them herself.


The liner notes, written by Rebecca Cypess, have an extensive history of Sara Levy’s family and the relationship with the music of the Bach family. The liner notes also explain how the Levys were remarkable because they were Jewish and held quite a high status in Berlin.

Dr. Amanda Sewell is IPR's music director.