Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lied (plural Lieder) is a German word, literally meaning "song"; among English speakers, however, it is used primarily as a term for European classical music songs, also known as "art songs". Typically, Lieder are arranged for a single singer and piano. Sometimes Lieder are gathered in a Liederkreis or "song cycle" — a series of songs tied by a single narrative or theme. The composers Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann are most closely associated with this genre of classical music.
Amongst German speakers, the term Lied has a much older and longer history, ranging from 12th century troubadour songs (Minnesang) via folk songs (Volkslieder) and church hymns (Kirchenlieder) to 20th-century satirical or protest songs (Kabarettlieder, Protestlieder).
In Germany, the great age of song came in the 19th century. German and Austrian composers had written music for voice with accompaniment before then, but it was with the flowering of German literature in the Classical and Romantic eras that composers found high inspiration in poetry that created the genre known as the Lied. The beginnings of this tradition are seen in the songs of Mozart and Beethoven, but it is with Schubert that a new balance is found between words and music, a new absorption into the music of the sense of the words. Schubert wrote over 600 songs, some of them in sequences or song cycles that relate a story - adventure of the soul rather than the body. The tradition was continued by Schumann, Brahms, and Hugo Wolf, and on into the 20th century by Strauss and Mahler. The body of song created in the Lied tradition, like that of the Italian madrigal three centuries before, represents one of the richest products of human sensibility.
Other National Traditions
The Lied tradition is closely linked with the actual sound of the German language. But there are parallels elsewhere noticeably in France, with the melodies of such composers as Faure, Debussy and Francis Poulenc, and in Russia, with the songs of Mussorgsky in particular. England too had a flowering of song in the 20th century represented by Vaughan Williams and Britten.
- At http://www.lieder.net/ you can find thousands of texts to classical art songs in many languages, with translations to English.
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