PhD research


Forgotten Lieder Composers


The estab­lished canon of Ger­man Lieder encom­pass­es a small num­ber of well-known com­posers, and recent­ly includes a few pre­vi­ous­ly neglect­ed female com­posers despite the fact that 19th cen­tu­ry Vien­nese audi­ences were privy to a rich vari­ety of songs, and in many oth­er con­texts than today’s art song recitals. More­over, the cur­rent­ly accept­ed canon of Lieder is based on a premise of the Lied’s devel­op­ment pri­mar­i­ly focus­ing on pro­gres­sion, inno­va­tion and com­plex­i­ty, a view incon­sis­tent with val­ues held for the Lied through­out the 19th cen­tu­ry.

In order to rep­re­sent Lieder com­po­si­tion more com­plete­ly, sta­tis­tics were dis­tilled through perusal and cat­e­go­riza­tion of con­cert pro­grams archived in the “Gesellschaft der Musik­fre­unde”, the Aus­tri­an Nation­al Library and the “Stadt- und Lan­des­bib­lio­thek” in Vien­na. All avail­able, phys­i­cal­ly print­ed pro­grams dat­ed between 1848 and 1897 were cat­a­loged to deter­mine which Lieder were most com­mon­ly pro­grammed. Besides Lieder by known com­posers such as Schu­bert, Schu­mann, Brahms, Loewe, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Franz, Grieg, Cor­nelius and lat­er Wolf, a sig­nif­i­cant pres­ence of Lieder by less­er-known com­posers (Rubin­stein, Lassen, Jensen, Gold­mark, Taubert, Bauduin, Riedel, Ess­er, Dessauer, Amadei, Rück­auf and Proch) was dis­cov­ered and is pre­sent­ed in order of sta­tis­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

Loca­tions where songs were per­formed are explored, from the Musikvere­in to the halls of piano man­u­fac­tur­ers; from pub­lic insti­tu­tions to pri­vate and half-pri­vate salons. A selec­tion of Lieder by the afore­men­tioned dozen com­posers is ana­lyzed accord­ing to musi­cal para­me­ters, text and style all of which aid in under­stand­ing the con­text with­in which these songs were com­posed. Inter­preters of song as well as their crit­ics and sup­port­ers, all of whom influ­enced a song’s recep­tion and aid­ed or hin­dered its con­tin­ued pres­ence in the reper­to­ry are also includ­ed in this study.

A num­ber of obser­va­tions can be made through this process. First­ly, the deval­u­a­tion of those com­posers who were either con­sid­ered first and fore­most to be per­form­ers, or who found them­selves in dis­fa­vor as a result of his­toric and polit­i­cal con­di­tions is appar­ent. Sec­ond­ly the rise of the Lied as a legit­i­mate genre, demon­strat­ed through ency­clo­pe­dias and music the­o­ry trea­tis­es is traced. Final­ly there are a num­ber of unjust­ly for­got­ten Lieder (and their cre­ators) which deserve a place in vocal reper­toire for edu­ca­tion­al and/or per­for­mance pur­pos­es. An enrich­ment of the canon would be a sig­nif­i­cant first step towards a more thor­ough under­stand­ing of Lieder his­to­ry in the 19th cen­tu­ry.