Though still couched in mystery, the origins of the Lieder ohne Worte
may lie in a childhood musical game the composer played with his sister, the musical prodigy Fanny Mendelssohn, who reported in a letter from the 1830s that as children they experimented with fitting newly contrived texts to their piano pieces. To Fanny we also owe the revelation that her brother composed for her birthday on 14 November 1828 a Lied ohne Worte
, which was preserved in her autograph album, where he recorded a Lied
in E flat major. Fanny’s comment is the first documented reference to the new genre, which became inextricably associated with Felix Mendelssohn, though his sister also produced several finely wrought, gem-like examples of piano Lieder
. In two parts, Mendelssohn’s Lied
in E flat major comprises an expressive Allegro that spills over into a coda marked Grave, the first few bars of which resemble the principal theme of the Lied ohne Worte
, Op 19b No 4. Here we find a relatively rare instance of Mendelssohn’s use of self-quotation.
from notes by R Larry Todd © 2014