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Ma Yingjun

“Songs without words” by Felix Mendelssohn (towards the history of the genre formation)

The article is devoted to the genre of song without words, which developed in the work by F. Mendelssohn and subsequently became the property of world piano music and musical pedagogy. The appearance of Mendelssohn’s “Songs without words” was quite innovative, primarily due to the fact that these works became deep and expressive sketches of momentary states of nature, echoing personal mental states, feelings and emotions. A significant degree of subjectivity, deep penetration into the spiritual world of a person, withdrawal into oneself determined such qualities of the genre as intimacy, meditativeness, contemplation. Accordingly, one can observe a great contrast between the brilliant concert repertoire, which always involved an enchanting and spectacular performance, and “songs without words”, simple, unsophisticated, without brilliance, but at the same time tuning the listener to communicate with music alone.

Analysis of form, texture and figurative structure of Mendelssohn’s musical sketches allows to conclude that they became the development of a number of genres that existed in the first third of the 19th century: leaf from an album, bagatelle and “characteristic” etude. In addition, some intersections with the nocturne are found. It is noted that in Mendelssohn’s legacy this genre has risen to a high professional and artistic level.

The article provides the study on the formation of the piano miniature genre “Song without words” and discusses the reason for high demand for the genre in the age of romanticism. The article analyses the programmatic content of the “Songs without words” in the context of the composer’s attitude to this problem. The importance of a wider inclusion of Mendelssohn’s piano opuses in the modern concert and pedagogical repertoire is emphasized.

Key words

musical culture of the romanticism era, piano miniature, F. Mendelssohn, “Songs without words”, Biedermeier, concert and pedagogical repertoire.

For citation

Ma Yingjun. “Songs without words” by Felix Mendelssohn (towards the history of the genre formation) // South-Russian Musical Anthology. 2022. No. 3. Pp. 122-126.