Although Felix Mendelssohn was dubbed a musical child prodigy himself, he was very cautious about the merits of hollow virtuosity. Also about the piano repertoire he had some opinions of his own – Chopin’s works he appreciated as fine, but mannerist, Liszt’s admirable but rash, and Kalkbrenner’s oeuvre he felt was ‘an indigestable sausage’. On the other hand, Bach, Weber and Beethoven breathed life into his own compositions, not the least in his legendary Lieder ohne Worte.
Mendelssohn indeed published 36 instrumental songs in six collections between 1832 and 1945 – two volumes appeared posthumously. Where exactly he got the idea, remains uncertain; is this an adult version of his little game with his sister Fanny, when they invented texts nspired by piano music? Or are they thoroughbred songs that were stripped of their text afterwards? Whatever may be the case, Mendelssohn’s Lieder ohne Worte have inspired generations of composers and musicians. Including Ronald Brautigam, who will take you along on a period pianoforte from wordless to breathless ….
Ronald Brautigam, fortepiano
F. Mendelssohn: work for piano