is a testament to the merger of music and friendship. The text is by Friedricke Robert, née Brun (1795–1832), a spirited and very beautiful young Jewish woman (Heine hymned her as ‘Venus de Milo’s cousin’ and dedicated ‘Auf Flügeln des Gesanges’ to her) who married Ludwig Robert, brother to Rahel Varnhagen von Ense, in 1822. Mendelssohn composed this song shortly after his trip to Paris in 1825, and it is, by his own designation, a ‘theme-and-variations set’ in song. The poetic theme is ‘pity as torment’, the way in which ‘comforting’ words pierce the heart; one notes in particular the frank admission at the end that any assurance of her former sweetheart’s happiness in love with someone else will only increase her pain.
from notes by Susan Youens © 2009