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Lied ohne Worte

Op. 19. No. 2
Manuscript, 1830

Misc. Ms. 423, Gilmore Music Library
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Many romantic composers produced numerous short character pieces for piano, and Mendelssohn was no exception. He frequently used the title “Lieder ohne Worte,” or “Songs without Words.” The piece displayed here is an example. The manuscript is dated December 11, 1830. It was published in 1833 as Opus 19, No. 2. Mendelssohn gave evocative titles (such as “Hunter’s Song” and “Gondolier’s Song”) to some of the pieces in Op. 19, but No. 2 has no title. The manuscript consists of two pages, with writing on both the front and back. Mendelssohn’s musical handwriting was always meticulous, and he wrote this piece on embossed music paper.

This manuscript formerly belonged to Vladimir Horowitz (1903–1989). The most celebrated pianist of the 20th century, Horowitz became a wealthy man from his concert fees and record royalties, so he was able to acquire a number of important musical artifacts. In addition to this manuscript, Horowitz owned a letter by Mendelssohn (also on display) as well as letters by Liszt, Robert and Clara Schumann, and Tchaikovsky. Horowitz and his wife, Wanda Toscanini Horowitz, donated their papers to Yale between 1986 and 1992, but their collection of rare letters and manuscripts was cataloged separately.