Songs With out Phrases (Lieder ohne Worte) is a sequence of brief lyrical piano items by the Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn, written between 1829 and 1845. His sister Fanny Mendelssohn and different composers additionally wrote items in the identical style.

The eight volumes of Songs With out Phrases, every consisting of six “songs” (Lieder), had been written at numerous factors all through Mendelssohn’s life, and had been printed individually. The piano grew to become more and more in style in Europe in the course of the early nineteenth century, when it grew to become a typical merchandise in lots of middle-class households. The items are throughout the grasp of pianists of varied skills and this undoubtedly contributed to their reputation. This nice reputation has prompted many critics to under-rate their musical worth.[citation needed]

The primary quantity was printed by Novello in London (1832) as Unique Melodies for the Pianoforte, however the later volumes used the title Songs With out Phrases.[1]

The works had been a part of the Romantic custom of writing brief lyrical items for the piano, though the particular idea of “Songs With out Phrases” was new. Mendelssohn’s sister Fanny wrote numerous comparable items (although not so entitled) and, based on some music historians, she might have helped encourage the idea. The title Tune With out Phrases appears to have been Felix Mendelssohn’s personal invention. In 1828, Fanny wrote in a letter “My birthday was celebrated very properly … Felix has given me a ‘tune with out phrases’ for my album (he has recently written a number of lovely ones).”[1]

Mendelssohn himself resisted makes an attempt to interpret the Songs too actually, and objected when his good friend Marc-André Souchay sought to place phrases to them to make them literal songs:

What the music I like expresses to me, just isn’t thought too indefinite to place into phrases, however quite the opposite, too particular. (Mendelssohn’s personal italics)[2]

Mendelssohn additionally wrote different Songs With out Phrases not collected in volumes, and printed solely in recent times. Moreover, unique drafts exist for lots of the ‘Songs’ a lot of which differ fairly considerably from the ultimately printed variations.[3] In 2008, the Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda recorded a group of Mendelssohn’s Songs With out Phrases for Decca Information totalling 56 Lieder, a few of them by no means recorded earlier than.


The titles attributed to a number of the Songs beneath got by Mendelssohn himself.[4][failed verification] Different fanciful titles got to sure of the items by later publishers however don’t have any authority and don’t replicate any intention of the composer.

E-book 1, Op. 19b (1829–30)[edit]

  1. Andante con moto (E main)
  2. Andante espressivo (A minor)
  3. Molto allegro e vivace (A serious)
  4. Moderato (A serious)
  5. Poco agitato (F minor)
  6. Andante sostenuto: Venetianisches Gondellied (“Venetian Boat Tune”) (G minor)

E-book 2, Op. 30 (1833–34)[edit]

  1. Andante espressivo (E main)
  2. Allegro di molto (B minor)
  3. Adagio non troppo (E main)
  4. Agitato e con fuoco (B minor)
  5. Andante grazioso (D main)
  6. Allegretto tranquillo: Venetianisches Gondellied (“Venetian Boat Tune”) (F minor)

E-book 2 was devoted to Elisa von Woringen.[5]

Tune quantity 2 was written for his sister Fanny to have a good time the start of her son in 1830.[1]

E-book 3, Op. 38 (1836–37)[edit]

  1. Con moto (E main)
  2. Allegro non troppo (C minor)
  3. Presto e molto vivace (E main)
  4. Andante (A serious)
  5. Agitato (A minor)
  6. Andante con moto: Duetto (“Duet”) (A main)

Tune quantity 6 was given the title Duetto by Mendelssohn, since two melodies had been written to signify two singers. It was composed in Frankfurt in June 1836, quickly after he had met his future spouse.[1]

E-book Three was devoted to Rosa von Woringen.[5]

E-book 4, Op. 53 (1839–41)[edit]

  1. Andante con moto (A main)
  2. Allegro non troppo (E main)
  3. Presto agitato (G minor)
  4. Adagio (F main)
  5. Allegro con fuoco: Volkslied (“Folksong”) (A minor)
  6. Molto allegro vivace (A serious)

E-book Four was devoted to Sophia Horsley.[1]

E-book 5, Op. 62 (1842–44)[edit]

  1. Andante espressivo (G main)
  2. Allegro con fuoco (B main)
  3. Andante maestoso: Trauermarsch (“Funeral march”) (E minor)
  4. Allegro con anima (G main)
  5. Andante con moto: Venetianisches Gondellied (“Venetian Boat Tune”) (A minor)
  6. Allegretto grazioso: Frühlingslied (“Spring Tune”) (A serious)

Tune No. 6 “Spring Tune” was additionally typically recognized in England as “Camberwell Inexperienced“, being the place in London the place Mendelssohn composed it whereas staying with the Benneckes, kinfolk of his spouse.[1]

E-book 5 was devoted to Clara Schumann.[1]

E-book 6, Op. 67 (1843–45)[edit]

  1. Andante (E main)
  2. Allegro leggiero (F minor)
  3. Andante tranquillo (B main)
  4. Presto: Spinnerlied (“Spinner’s Tune”) (C main)
  5. Moderato (B minor)
  6. Allegro non troppo (E main)

The Spinnerlied has additionally been given the nickname the “Bee’s Wedding ceremony” because the busy accompaniment to the melody resembles the buzzing of bees.

E-book 6 was devoted to Sophie Rosen.[1]

E-book 7, Op. 85 (1843–45)[edit]

  1. Andante espressivo (F main)
  2. Allegro agitato (A minor)
  3. Presto (E main)
  4. Andante sostenuto (D main)
  5. Allegretto (A serious)
  6. Allegretto con moto (B main)

This e book, and E-book 8, had been printed posthumously.

E-book 8, Op. 102 (1842–45)[edit]

  1. Andante un poco agitato (E minor)
  2. Adagio (D main)
  3. Presto (C main)
  4. Un poco agitato, ma andante (G minor)
  5. Allegro vivace (A serious)
  6. Andante (C main)

Associated works[edit]

A bit in D main for cello and piano, written by Mendelssohn round 1845 for cellist Lisa Cristiani, was printed for the primary time after his demise. It was designated Opus 109 and entitled Tune With out Phrases. It isn’t associated to any of the piano items.[6] Cellist Carlos Prieto referred to as the piece “an beautiful composition, worthy of the best items Mendelssohn ever composed for this style.”[7]

A bit for piano in E minor by Mendelssohn was printed after his demise below Op. 117, entitled Albumblatt (“Album Leaf”);[8] an additional piece for piano by Mendelssohn was printed after his demise, with out opus quantity, listed as WoO 10, titled Gondellied (“Gondola Tune”).[9] Some historians imagine these to have been meant for one more set of Songs With out Phrases.


Mendelssohn made piano duet preparations of numerous the songs, specifically those who grew to become E-book 5 and the primary tune of E-book 6, which he offered to Queen Victoria in 1844.[10] Mendelssohn was additionally conscious of preparations of a number of the earlier Lieder for piano duet by Carl Czerny.[11] Many others have made numerous preparations of particular person songs, together with for orchestra, chamber ensemble, or solo instrument with piano accompaniment. One such instance is the association of 22 of the songs by Mendelssohn’s scholar, the German violist Friedrich Hermann (1828–1907), for violin and piano.[12]

In 1834, Franz Liszt wrote his Grosses Konzertstück über Mendelssohns Lieder ohne Worte (Grand Live performance Piece on Mendelssohn’s Songs With out Phrases) for two pianos. This was primarily based on songs 1–Three of E-book I, Op. 19b.[13] Liszt and a scholar, Mlle. Vial, began to play it in Paris on 9 April 1835[14] however Liszt grew to become sick in the course of the efficiency. Ferruccio Busoni deliberate to play it in London with Egon Petri, however died earlier than the plan might be realised. It was lastly first carried out in full by Richard and John Contiguglia on the 1984 Holland Liszt Competition in Utrecht.[15]

There are additionally examples of recordings of transcriptions, for solo instrument and piano accompaniment, of Mendelssohn lieder written for the voice, which have been entitled “Songs With out Phrases”, as an illustration by Mischa Maisky. No such preparations had been nevertheless made, or so titled, by Mendelssohn himself.

By different composers[edit]

Fanny Mendelssohn’s early collections of piano works opp. 2,6, and eight are titled Lieder für das Pianoforte (Songs for the piano).

Different composers who had been impressed to provide comparable units of items of their very own included Charles-Valentin Alkan (the 5 units of Chants, every ending with a barcarolle), Anton Rubinstein, Ignaz Moscheles and Edvard Grieg (his 66 Lyric Items). Two Songs With out Phrases (Op. 10) for piano had been additionally written by Mykola Lysenko.

Each Alkan and Rubinstein regularly included objects from Mendelssohn’s Songs of their recitals. Ferruccio Busoni, who thought-about Mendelssohn “a grasp of undisputed greatness”, turned to the Songs With out Phrases within the final yr of his life for a projected sequence of recitals in London.

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Andrew Porter, Liner notes from Walter Gieseking recording, Angel 35428
  2. ^ Mendelssohn, (1864): letter to Marc-André Souchay of 15 October 1842 (pp. 271–272)
  3. ^ A few of these have now been printed within the Urtext version of Könemann Music (ISBN 3833113413)
  4. ^ see Todd (2003), 648.
  5. ^ a b Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, fifth ed., 1954, Vol. V, p. 703, Felix Mendelssohn: Catalogue of Works
  6. ^ Stratton, Stephen Samuel (1910). Mendelssohn. J.M. Dent
  7. ^ Prieto, Carlos, Álvaro Mutis (translated by Elena C. Murray) (2011). The Adventures of a Cello: Revised Version, with a New Epilogue. College of Texas Press, ISBN 9780292723931
  8. ^ Albumblatt, op. 117: Scores on the Worldwide Music Rating Library Mission (IMSLP)
  9. ^ Gondellied, WoO 10: Scores on the Worldwide Music Rating Library Mission (IMSLP)
  10. ^ Todd (2003), 474
  11. ^ Todd, (2003), 355
  12. ^ Strings Journal on Hermann Archived 2010-04-04 on the Wayback Machine, Naxos catalogue for a recording of the preparations
  13. ^ Liszt Society Publication No. 70, June 1999[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, fifth ed, 1954, Vol. V, p. 286, Franz Liszt: Catalogue of Works
  15. ^ Richard and John Contiguglia, Duo-Pianists


  • Felix Mendelssohn, Letters, Philadelphia, 1864
  • R. Larry Todd, Mendelssohn: A Life in Music, Oxford, 2003.

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