Song was one of the foremost genres of the Romantic age, and Felix Mendelssohn was engaged in song composition at intervals from childhood until his untimely death at the age of thirty-eight. His first known song, indeed one of his first extant compositions of any kind, is the Lied zum Geburtstage meines guten Vaters
, composed on an anonymous text for Abraham Mendelssohn’s birthday on 11 December 1819 by his ten-year-old son. (Abraham supposedly told a friend: ‘Once I was the son of a famous father [the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn], and now I am the father of a famous son’; it was Abraham who took the radical step of not having his sons circumcised and having them baptized into the Lutheran church in 1816.) This sweet specimen of juvenilia foreshadows Mendelssohn’s love of strophic song thereafter; simple, heartfelt, and straightforward in a hymn-like G major, the song ends with a postlude in which the precocious child experiments with a modicum of chromaticism.
from notes by Susan Youens © 2010