I feel that I should be careful while interpreting Rosen’s critique of Mendelssohn, especially with the word “kitsch”. By using the word “kitsch”, is Rosen blaming Mendelssohn for replicated only surface beauty in religious art? Does he appreciate Mendelssohn’s emphasizing on the purely aesthetic form of the sublime with the reducing the doctrine and serious contents in it? It is understandable that some people could be unhappy about the incomplete feeling induced by the lack of doctrine, because for them religious art is complete and beautiful only with its contents intact, and any act of extraction is offensive. Then the question goes down to the value system for individuals. Is there an axiom that says religious art is of a higher place than the purely sensuous aesthetics? And the question becomes more complicated when these two terminologies are not independently defined.
I do not agree with Rosen’s claim that Mendelssohn was an “‘inventor’ of religious kitsch”. Palestrina was a collectively accepted composer of church music who preserved the polyphonic element in order to achieve a purely sensuous aesthetic in music much earlier than Mendelssohn (could Palestrina has been its inventor?). By addressing Mendelssohn as an “‘inventor’ of religious kitsch”, Rosen would invoke some temperament of people who can only accept religious art be complete with its contents. Thus, shouldn't we say that Rosen was not neutral in his assessment of Mendelssohn?