Mendelssohn on the Hudson

Mendelssohn on the Hudson

Episode 1: Rose and Eddie (Opus 30, No. 3)

September 30, 2021

183rd St. and Fort Washington Ave, Southwest Corner

Notice the pre-war Art Deco design of this six-story apartment building at 495 Fort Washington Ave. Throughout the 1930s and corresponding with the arrival of the German Jewish refugees, prominent architects designed buildings like this one to accommodate the area’s growing population.

In 1933, the first year of their anti-Jewish decrees, the Nazis banned Mendelssohn’s music and that of all Jewish-born German composers, toppled Mendelssohn’s statues and destroyed all his other legacies to erase any traces of his existence.

Here, in their adopted country, the German Jews kept Mendelssohn alive. His short piano solos, Songs without Words, or Lieder ohne Worte, were wildly popular; copies of this sheet music were ubiquitous on American German Jewish pianos.

Mendelssohn was present in this building when Eddie, a telephone repairman, realized that Rose, an indigent German Jewish woman, couldn’t pay for her phone repair.