Themes of the German Lieder: From Mozart to Strauss

Author: Russell, Peter
This is the first study systematically to map and classify the major German lieder according to the themes of their texts. It also traces in detail the extent to which each theme as evolved from German folk-song, or derives from elsewhere, notably the Romantic movement. This analysis also affords new insights into the differing personalities of the major lieder composers. It constitutes a comprehensive reference-work, an encyclopedia of lieder themes. Through its lists of contents and its detailed indexes (by composers, poets, song-titles, and themes) it provides an easy means of racing lieder by theme.


“These comparisons yield fascinating results; as expected, emphasis on love and spring are common to both folksong and Romantic lieder, but relatively few lieder deal with heroic deeds and violence, which are common folk ballad topics. Some topics present in 19th-century lieder, e.g., the fascination with night and the joys of wandering, are not found in folksong at all….. his volume is recommended for upper-division graduates as a supplement… and for specialists to be used in conjunction with Susan Youens’s work on Schubert and Hugo Wolf.” - CHOICE

“In addition to providing information… the author also brings to bear his expertise as literary critic and musician. The whole is thus studded with sharp observations on all aspects of the genre and interpretations of individual examples…. For the specialist in German literature and music, there are many interesting observations which the standard ‘companions’ to the great composers do not offer, and there is, above all, a precise documentation of thematic relationships with the folksong, showing those themes which do survive in the lied… and those which do not…. although I have suggested that this book will function for most as a source of reference, it is nevertheless highly readable, performing with flair its interdisciplinary task of classification, analysis and entertainment.” – Peter Hutchinson