… es sind doch Orgeln, das ist mir schon genug.  The organ as a keystone of Mendelssohn’s perception of Bach
Ein alte Prachtkerll… [A splendid old boy]. This was how Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy familiarly described J.S.Bach in one of his many letters. Throughout his career he actively promoted Bach’s music. He was to play a key role in the Bach-revival at the beginning of the 19th century, and the organ became the favored focus of his admiration. His career as an organist was exclusively devoted to Bach. It was he who introduced to England of some of Bach’s major organ-works, thus having a significant impact on the development of English organ-building. He was to direct the publication of Bach’s organ-compositions, many of which had never appeared in print. This life-long admiration had begun when he was a child: his forefathers had been enthusiastic collectors of Bach manuscripts and the Mendelssohn family still maintained a vivid Bach-tradition. Mendelssohn’s exacting musical education is directly linked to Bach through Carl Friedrich Zelter, who himself had studied with Bach’s pupil Kirnberger. His admiration of Bach’s music and his love of the organ were to accompany him throughout his life. Consequently his own compositions for organ are a remarkable synthesis of tradition and 19th century development.
1 ‘... they are organs, and that is already enough for me’. Letter dated 3.9.1831, F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Reisebriefe aus den Jahren 1830 bis 1832. Leipzig, 1864, p.281.