Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/147

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LIED-FORM.
135
LIEDERKREIS.

completeness may be obtained even with very vague structure in the music; whereas in instrumental music, unless the form is clear and appreciably denned, it is impossible for the most intelligent hearer to realise the work as a whole. So that, in point of fact, vocal music can do without a great deal of that which is vital to instrumental music; and therefore the Lied is just the member of the group which it is least satisfactory to take as the type: but as this form has been classified under that head, it has been necessary so to review it fully, in order that a just estimation may be formed of its nature, and the reason for taking exception to the title. The form itself is a very important one, but inasmuch as it admits of great latitude in treatment, it appears that the only satisfactory means of classifying it, or making it explicable, is by putting it on as broad a basis as possible, and giving it a distinctive title which shall have reference to its intrinsic constitution, and not to one of the many kinds of music which may, but need not necessarily, come within its scope.

LIED OHNE WORTE, i.e. Song without words (Fr. Romance sans paroles), Mendelssohn's title for the pianoforte pieces which are more closely associated with his name than any other of his compositions. The title exactly describes them. They are just songs. They have no words, but the meaning is none the less definite—'I wish I were with you,' says he to his sister Fanny in sending her from Munich[1] the earliest of these compositions which we possess—'but as that is impossible, I have written a song for you expressive of my wishes and thoughts' … and then follows a little piece of 16 bars long, which is as true a Lied ohne Worte as any in the whole collection. We know from a letter of later [2]date than the above that he thought music much more definite than words, and there is no reason to doubt that these 'Lieder,' as he himself constantly calls them, have as exact and special an intention as those which were composed to poetry, and that it is almost impossible to draw a line between the two.[3] He had two kinds of songs, one with words, the other without. The pieces are not Nocturnes, or Transcripts, or Etudes. They contain no bravura; everything is subordinated to the 'wish' or the 'thought' which filled the heart of the composer at the moment.

The title first appears in a letter of Fanny Mendelssohn's, Dec. 8, 1828, which implies that Felix had but recently begun to write such pieces. But the English equivalent was not settled without difficulty. The day after his arrival in London, on April 24, 1832, he played the first six to Moscheles, and they are then [4]spoken of as 'Instrumental Lieder für Clavier.' On the autograph of the first book, in Mr. Felix Moscheles' possession, they are named 'Six songs for the Pianoforte alone,' and this again was afterwards changed to 'Original Melodies for the Pianoforte,' under which title the first book was published (for the author) by Mr. Novello (then in Dean Street), on Aug. 20, 1832, and registered at Stationers' Hall. No opus-number is given on the English copy, though there can be no doubt that Mendelssohn arranged it himself in every particular. The book appeared concurrently in Berlin, at Simrock's, as 'Sechs Lieder ohne Worte, etc.[5]Op. 19.' The German name afterwards became current in England, and was added to the English title-page.

The last of the six songs contained in the 1st book—'In a Gondola,' or 'Venetianisches Gondellied'—is said to be the earliest of the six in point of date. In Mendelssohn's MS. catalogue it is marked ' Venedig, 16th Oct., 1830, für Delphine Schauroth'—a distinguished musician of Munich, whom he had left only a few weeks before, and to whom he afterwards dedicated his first P.F. Concerto. An earlier one still is No. 2 of Book 2, which was sent from Munich to his sister Fanny in a letter dated June 26, 1830.

Strange as it may seem, the success of the Lieder ohne Worte was but slow in England. The books of Messrs. Novello & Co., for 1836, show that only 114 copies of Book 1 were sold in the first four years![6] Six books, each containing six songs, were published during Mendelssohn's lifetime, numbered as op. 19, 30, 38, 53, 62, and 67, respectively; and a 7th and 8th (op. 85 and 102) since his death. A few of them have titles, viz. the Gondola song already mentioned; another 'Venetianisches Gondellied,' op. 30, no. 6; 'Duett,' op. 38, no, 6; 'Volkslied,' op. 53, no. 5; a third 'Venetianisches Gondellied,' and a 'Frühlingslied,' op. 62, nos. 5 and 6. These titles are his own. Names have been given to some of the other songs. Thus op. 19, no. 2, is called 'Jägerlied' or Hunting song; op. 62, no. 3, 'Trauermarsch' or Funeral march; op. 67, no. 3, 'Spinnerlied' or Spinning song: but these, appropriate or not, are unauthorised.

[ G. ]

LIEDERKREIS, LIEDERCYCLUS, or LIEDERREIHE. A circle or series of songs, relating to the same object and forming one piece of music. The first instance of the thing and the first use of the word appears to be in Beethoven's op. 98, 'An die ferne Geliebte. Ein Liederkreis von Al. Jeitteles.[7] Für Gesang und Pianoforte … von L. van Beethoven.' This consists of six songs, was composed April 1816, and published in the following December. The word Liederkreis appears first on the printed copy. Beethoven's title on the autograph is 'An die enfernte Geliebte, Sechs Lieder von Aloys Jeitteles,' etc. It was followed by Schubert's 'Die schöne Müllerin, ein Cyclus von Liedern,' 20 songs, composed 1823, and published March 1824. Schubert's two other series, the 'Winter-

  1. Letters from Italy and Switzerland, June 14, 1830.
  2. To Souchay, Oct 15, 1841.
  3. The Herbstlied (op. 63) was originally a Lied ohne Worte (MS. Cat. No. 204).
  4. See the Translation of Moscheles' Life. i. 207, for this and the following fact.
  5. There are two opus 19, a set of six songs with words, and a set of six without them.
  6. For this fact I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. Henry Littleton, the present head of the firm.
  7. Of the poet of these charming verses little information can be gleaned. He was born at Brunn June 20, 1794, so that when he wrote the Liederkreis he was barely 21. Like many amateurs of music he practised medicine, and he died at his native place April 16. 1858.