Cycles and Songs

CD 9 of 24

To find the origins for the song cycle, a form predominantly associated with the German songwriters of the nineteenth century, we need to look back to eighteenth-century England. It is there that songwriters began to place similarly themed songs into collections, such as those by James Hook (1746-1827), his Hours of Love and The Seasons being two such examples. By the early nineteenth century this idea was being imitated on the Continent, with the outburst of Romantic poetry by such writers as Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749 – 1832) and Heinrich Heine (1797 – 1856) providing the catalyst. Their poetry touched the human spirit in words about nature, love and the individual’s place in the universe. Fusing lyrics and music written predominantly for the piano, vocalist and pianist were treated as equal partners in the musical dialogue. Thus the German song cycle was born.

One of the greatest song-cycles is Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love) by Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856), with poetry by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), which has been called the “most perfect of love-song cycles” and “one of the handful of masterpieces in Western music”. At the time of composition, Schumann was attempting to wed Clara Wieck, but her father kept putting up roadblocks, citing as his reasons Schumann’s poverty, alcoholism, and basically being unable to care for his daughter – a litany of complaints that every father makes of any young man wanting to steal away his daughter. Eventually, Schumann filed a complaint in court against Herr Wieck, triumphing after almost three years, during which time he did not see Clara. After his victory Schumann launched into what has been called his Year of Song, a period including Dichterliebe. Heine’s poetry makes use of floral imagery, nightingales, Romantic bliss, unrequited love and dreams, but comes to a gloomy end, when the poet asks that he be buried in a large coffin, the only size coffin that could contain all of his pain and love. 

Compare this to Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) and his setting of Adelaide, written by Friedrich von Matthison (1761 – 1831). As in Heine’s poetry, the poet in Adelaide speaks of blossoming flowers in May, twittering nightingales and concludes with him speaking of blossoms sprouting from his grave, the petals inscribed with the name – Adelaide. Ah, love was thus ever so trying.

Another great composer of Lieder was Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828), who we last heard from on CD 8, with his Unfinished Symphony. Equal in greatness to his symphonic output are his lieder, some 600 in total, written as separate works and for inclusion in song-cycles. Of particular note are Ständchen (Serenade) with poetry by Ludwig Rellstab (1799 – 1860), a work wherein a lover pines for his love to bring him happiness, and An Die Musik (To Music), with poetry by Franz von Schober (1796 – 1882). Schober, a friend of Schubert, wrote poetry speaking of a love to “music whose touch of heavenly sweet harmony has opened up a paradise for me”.


Recommended Tracks

Recommended Tracks

Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856):
Dichterliebe, Op.48 | 1. Im wunderschönen Monat Mai
Giesen · Wunderlich
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827):
Adelaïde, Op.46
Giesen · Wunderlich
Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828):
Schwanengesang, D. 957 | An die Musik, D.547 (Op.88/4)
Giesen · Wunderlich


(Please find our recommended audio excerpts for this CD on the bottom of the "Overview" page.)

      1. Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856)
        Dichterliebe, Op.48
        1. 1.
          1. Im wunderschönen Monat Mai
        2. 2.
          2. Aus meinen Tränen sprießen
        3. 3.
          3. Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne
        4. 4.
          4. Wenn ich in deine Augen seh'
        5. 5.
          5. Ich will meine Seele tauchen
        6. 6.
          6. Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome
        7. 7.
          7. Ich grolle nicht
        8. 8.
          8. Und wüßten's die Blumen, die kleinen
        9. 9.
          9. Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen
        10. 10.
          10. Hör' ich das Liedchen klingen
        11. 11.
          11. Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen
        12. 12.
          12. Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen
        13. 13.
          13. Ich hab' im Traum geweinet
        14. 14.
          14. Allnächtlich im Traume seh' ich dich
        15. 15.
          15. Aus alten Märchen winkt es
        16. 16.
          16. Die alten, bösen Lieder
      2. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
      3. 17.
        Zärtliche Liebe, WoO 123 "Ich liebe dich"
      4. 18.
        Adelaïde, Op.46
      5. 19.
        Resignation, WoO149
      6. 20.
        Der Kuss, Op.128
      7. Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
      8. 21.
        An Sylvia, D.891 (Op.106/4)
      9. 22.
        Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren, D360
      10. 23.
        Liebhaber in allen Gestalten, D.558
      11. 24.
        Der Einsame, D.800
      12. 25.
        Im Abendrot, D.799
      13. Schwanengesang, D. 957
        1. 26.
          Ständchen "Leise flehen meine Lieder"
      14. 27.
        An die Laute, D. 905 (Op.81/2)
      15. 28.
        Der Musensohn, D.764 (Op.92/1)
      16. 29.
        An die Musik, D.547 (Op.88/4)
        Fritz Wunderlich, Hubert Giesen
    Playing Time 01:05:11