The German musician Felix Mendelssohn is best known for his compositional talents. He wrote symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano music and chamber music.

On Saturday, the Boston-based Handel and Haydn Society will perform chamber works that Mendelssohn collected for his personal music library, in a concert at the University of Southern Maine in Portland presented by Portland Ovations.

Mendelssohn, who lived from 1778 to 1862, kept scores by Handel, Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi, many of them signed, said concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky, who will lead her fellow string players in a chamber program of Baroque and Classical works.

“This program is based around the concept that Mendelssohn throughout his life collected quite a personal library of musical scores. He had a large collection of all kinds,” Nosky said. “That tells me he really valued the works of previous generations of composers who came before him, and he really studied them. I think you can hear the influence of those composers in the works of Mendelssohn.”

Although he was known primarily as a pianist, Mendelssohn studied violin and played many instruments. During his musical training, which is began at age 7 or 8, he played works by a variety of composers. Nosky presumes he continued to play this music throughout his life.

While musical scores were collected among the intellectuals with whom Mendelssohn circulated, they were expensive. That Mendelssohn had so many indicates his reverence for his predecessors, she said. “You had to go to quite a lot of effort to get those things,” she said. “And he took very good care of them.”


Nosky grew up in western Canada, and has been playing the violin since she was 3. She began playing for fun, and it became a passion. Weekly lessons led to enrollment at a conservatory in Toronto, which led to a professional career.

She has been performing as concertmaster with the Handel and Haydn Society for three seasons.

This is the society’s bicentennial season, and it is among the country’s oldest continuously performing arts organizations. It specializes in music from the 17th and 18th centuries, performed on instruments from that time. Nosky’s Spanish violin was made in 1746. 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes


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