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.

Chanda VanderHart – pianist, chamber musician, art song accompanist, vocal coach.

In 2015, Chanda celebrates 15 years living in Vienna, Austria, the music capital of Europe where she has been acquiring a solid musical education, worked with world-class musicians and singers and developed exciting music related projects.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Recent Tweets