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Published on Nov 29, 2008
The eight volumes of Songs without Words were written at various points throughout Mendelssohn's life, (two of the volumes being published posthumously). The piano became increasingly popular in Europe during this era, where it became the focal point of many middle-class households. The pieces are within the grasp of pianists of various abilities and this undoubtedly contributed to their popularity. This great popularity has caused many critics to under-rate their musical value.
The works were part of the Romantic tradition of writing short lyrical pieces for the piano, although the specific concept of 'Song without Words' was new. Felix's sister Fanny Mendelssohn wrote a number of similar pieces (though not so entitled) and she may have helped inspire the concept according to some music historians.
Mendelssohn himself resisted attempts to interpret the Songs too literally, and objected when his friend Souchay sought to put words to them to make them literal songs