“Three Songs Without Words” by Felix Mendelssohn
Edited by Samuel O. Pratt
For Pedal Harp
Intermediate / Advanced / 11 Pages
-“The Spinning Song”
Copyright 1966 by CHARLES COLIN
We have long cherished a pet theory about the Songs Without Words, and that is the possibility that at least some of them were composed for the harp, or with the harp in mind. There have been recent rumors of a work for harp by Mendelssohn, and the Rothchilds, in their history, tell of sending one of their daughters to Mendelssohn for harp lessons. This is the sort of thing that many families would remember many years after it happened, and perhaps it was another Mendelssohn, or another teacher altogether. But it is known that Mendelssohn knew and had some degree of contact with the famous harpist, Parish-Alvars. It is possible that both men had some degree of influence on each other. Stylistically, the Songs Without Words seem harpy, or at least some of them do. The common names now given them was, in most cases, not by the composer, but the publisher and, in a complete edition of the Songs Without Words, published around 1873, there are almost no titles. In number 18, the greatest problem will be to keep the two voices well distinguished and separate from the accompaniment. The notes are not of extreme difficulty, and there are few fingering problems. Musicality will be the main issue. In the next Lied, number 9, now known as Consolation, there are few technical problems. A sound legato, without blurring the melodic lines, should be worked on. Remember that on the harp, a legato is best obtained by staying very much off the strings. If the first two of these three Songs pose few technical problems, they are more than made up for by the third. This is The Spinning Song, and should be well known to anyone who has listened to music. Practice it slowly, and with the exact fingering given. The fingering is conceived for the presto tempo which must ultimately follow. Cross-overs with the third and second finger will seem strange, and you may find yourself confused for a little while, but take the time to learn. The resultant addition to your technique will be worth many times more than the extra patience required. The short chromatic passages on the third from the last page require a little trick of the pedal slide. This is indicated by an O in the fingering. This is not a harmonic, but indicates that the string is not to be plucked. The pedal slide is enough.