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Felix Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words

Mendelssohn first referred to a “lied ohne worte” in a letter to his sister Fanny Mendelssohn in 1928. But when the first set was published in London it was given the title Original Melodies for the Pianoforte. Eventually, the name that stuck to these works was the one Mendelssohn had thought of in the first place, and five more sets of Songs Without Words followed in his lifetime (the last two were published posthumously).
They became immensely popular, not least because of the fact that many of the pieces were within the grasp of the amateur musician. Fanny Hensel noted that wherever she played Lieder ohne Worte a pair of young ladies would regularly fall into a faint. Mendelssohn himself has very eloquently summed up the idea behind these works: “People usually complain that music is so ambiguous; that they are doubtful as to what they should think when they hear it, whereas everyone understands words.
For me, it is just the reverse… [Words] seem to me so ambiguous, so indefinite, so open to misunderstanding in comparison with real music which fills one’s soul with a thousand better things than words.”

Sheet Music Downloads:

TitleASTKey Published Type Level
Songs Without Words Op. 19 No. 1E Major 1834 Piece 6
Regrets Op. 19 No. 2A Minor 1834 Piece 6
Hunting Song Op. 19 No. 3A Major 1834 Piece 7
Confidence Op. 19 No. 4A Major 1834 Piece 6
Restlessness Op. 19 No. 5F-sharp Minor 1834 Piece 8
Venetian Boat Song Op. 19 No. 6G Minor 1834 Piece 6
Contemplation Op. 30 No. 1E-flat Major 1834 Piece 7
Unrest Op. 30 No. 2B-flat Minor 1834 Piece 7
Consolation Op. 30 No. 3E Major 1834 Piece 6
The Wanderer Op. 30 No. 4B-flat Minor 1834 Piece 8
The Brook Op. 30 No. 5D Major 1834 Piece 8
Venetian Boat Song Op. 30 No. 6F-sharp Minor 1834 Piece 6
The Evening Star Op. 38 No. 1E-flat Major 1837 Piece 8
Lost Happiness Op. 38 No. 2C Minor 1837 Piece 8
The Poet's Harp Op. 38 No. 3E Major 1837 Piece 8
Hope Op. 38 No. 4A Major 1837 Piece 7
Passion Op. 38 No. 5A Minor 1837 Piece 8
Duet Op. 38 No. 6A-flat Major 1837 Piece 8
On the Seashore Op. 53 No. 1A-flat Major 1841 Piece 7
The fleecy Clouds Op. 53 No. 2E-flat Major 1841 Piece 6
Agitation Op. 53 No. 3G Minor 1841 Piece 6
Sadness of Soul Op. 53 No. 4F Major 1841 Piece 6
Folksong Op. 53 No. 5A Minor 1841 Piece 6
The Flight Op. 53 No. 6A Major 1841 Piece 7
May Breezes Op. 62 No. 1G Major 1844 Piece 6
The Departure Op. 62 No. 2B-flat Major 1844 Piece 6
Funeral March Op. 62 No. 3E Minor 1844 Piece 6
Morning Song Op. 62 No. 4G Major 1844 Piece 6
Venetian Boat Song Op. 62 No. 5A Minor 1844 Piece 7
Spring Song Op. 62 No. 6A Major 1844 Piece 7
Meditation Op. 67 No. 1E-flat Major 1845 Piece 7
Lost Illusions Op. 67 No. 2F-sharp Minor 1845 Piece 7
Song of the Pilgrim Op. 67 No. 3B-flat Major 1845 Piece 6
Spinning Song Op. 67 No. 4C Major 1845 Piece 8
The Shepherd's Complaint Op. 67 No. 5B Minor 1845 Piece 8
Lullaby Op. 67 No. 6E Major 1845 Piece 6
Reverie Op. 85 No. 1F Major 1845 Piece 6
The Adieu Op. 85 No. 2A Minor 1845 Piece 6
Delirium Op. 85 No. 3E Major 1845 Piece 7
Elegie Op. 85 No. 4D Major 1845 Piece 7
The Return Op. 85 No. 5A Major 1845 Piece 6
Song of the Traveller Op. 85 No. 6B-flat Major 1845 Piece 7
Homeless Op. 102 No. 1E Minor 1845 Piece 7
Retrospection Op. 102 No. 2E Minor 1845 Piece 7
Tarantella Op. 102 No. 3C Major 1845 Piece 7
The Sighing Wind Op. 102 No. 4G Minor 1845 Piece 7
The Joyous Peasant Op. 102 No. 5A Major 1845 Piece 7
Faith Op. 102 No. 6C Major 1845 Piece 6

Posts in the piano forum about Songs Without Words by Mendelssohn:

xx Mendelssohn----Songs Without Words
September 08, 2006, 10:15:11 AM by kitty on the keys

I dont see Mendelssohn mentioned very much. The songs without Words are delightful pieces, anybody working on them; favorite recordings, favorites  in the collection.


xx Re: Love Piece
August 10, 2006, 10:01:40 PM by moi_not_toi

Glad you've got a gurl that likes music. Way to go. Grin
Try some Mendelssohn.
On Wings of Song is really good, but I haven't tried it in a while so it might be harder than I remember it.

Pretty much anything by Mendelssohn is good. Try to play something from Songs w/o Words.

Good luck, mate! Wink

xx Mendelssohn's neglected masterpieces?
December 22, 2001, 09:37:23 PM by pianoloverus

I find SOME of Mendelssohns's Songs without Words incredibly beautiful and moving despite their often very simple harmony. I have become especially enamored of #12(Venetian Boat Song), #18(Duetto-until recently, my favorite), #20, #25(May Breezes), #32(my current favorite), #40(Elegy), and #47. I once attended one of Jeffrey Siegel's Keyboard Conversations where he began the concert by playing #30(Spring Song) and then asked the audience whether they thought the piece was terrific or a piece of schlock . The audience was about equally divided their opinion. What do you think about Mendelssohn's Songs without Words? Do you think any of them can stand beside the Chopin Preludes, Debussey Preludes, or Brahms Intermezzi?
Does anyone know the "names" of the ones I've listed above with only their number?

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