The Mendelssohn papers

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.

Administrative / Biographical History

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


The papers are arranged in two parts:

  • Correspondence of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and others
  • Music and papers

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

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.


Collection level description created by Susan Thomas, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other 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 Material

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 Ccile 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).