This timeline focuses on the influential people and events that shaped German and French vocal music into the Romantic era. Enjoy! *A neutral purple color may be used if the composer/poet who influenced Germany or France was neither German or French, as in the case of Liszt. (Shades of Green signify German accomplishments and Shades of Blue signifiy French accomplishments)
The French Enlightenment or (the Age of Reason) emphasized the reason, science and progress. The Romantic era came into being as a rebellion of these beliefs. Prominent philosophers of the French Enlightenment include Isaac Newton, John Locke, and Voltaire.
The oldest member of the First Viennese School, Haydn contributed about forty songs to the Lied. Haydn did not emphasize text over the music and the relationship between the two is superficial at best. In regard to his lieder, he is best remembered for his 6 English Canzonettas of 1794. He made great breakthroughs in the style of the lied's piano accompaniment in that he wrote his songs out in three staves instead of two so that greater independence was established between the voice and piano. He was also one of the first composers to echo the voice in the accompaniment. Haydn used poems by Anne Hunter, Shakespeare and Metastasio in his works.
C.P.E. Bach is the composer most frequently associated with the First Berlin School and the dates listed above are his Berlin period. He makes uses of the old Baroque continuo from his father's generation. A good example of this style is Judgment Day (Der Tag des Weltgeriechts) from Herrn Professor Gellert's Geistlichen Oden Lieder.
Johann Herder is a German poet who served as Goethe's mentor, inspiring Goethe's Heidenröslein. He is best known for his Volksgeist (folk poetry) and for assembling his Stimmen der Völker in Lieder - important texts collected from other countries in the nineteenth century which composers such as Schubert and Schumann would later set to music. He hated the French Enlightenment and that it entailed - (reason, science, progress) and advocated virtue/simplicity, intution, rebellion, Sturm und Drang and was strongly against neo-classicism.
Arguably the most prominent poet of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He is the author of The Sorrows of Young Werther, or (Virrar oder Sturm und Drang) which launched the Romantic Movement in German literature. Goethe's Faust is also considered the best re-telling of the legend and has inspired countless of musicians such as Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Berlioz, and even Mahler. He also is remembered for his West-Östlicher Divan (based on his love interest, Marianne von Willemer. Goethe may be the best remembered German poet of the Romantic era.
Composer of the Second Berlin School whose texts greatly influenced Schubert and composed over 1000 lieder including his own version of Erlkönig. He was a German Nationalist and fought for German music to be published into the public sphere. The Second Berlin School emphasized text priority, strophic settings preferable to through-composed, and accompaniment in the background so that melody could stand alone.
Arguably the most prominent composer of the Classical era, (and a member of the First Viennese School) Mozart wrote his best lieder around the time of Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro. These lieder (not surprisingly) have aria-like qualities and are through composed. He composed lieder in German (Das Veilchen) French (Dans un bois solitaire) and Italian (Ridente la calma). He believed poetry to be "the obedient daughter of the music'
Composer, conductor, and teacher of the Second Berlin School. He served as musical advisor to Goethe and became good friends even using the informal "du" in letters. He also is responsible for music education being responsible administered to the state. He also served as piano teacher to Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn. The Second Berlin School stressed text priority, strophic lieder as opposed to through-composed, and accompaniment in the background so that the melody could stand out alone.
These approximate dates (late 1760s to early 1780s) for the late Classical movement of Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) rebelled against the characteristics of the French Enlightenment (reason, science, progress) and advocated raw emotions and turbulence...this rebellion gave way to the Romantic Era as the predominant genre of art music.
Member of the Second Berlin School, famous for his ballads (modeled after England and Scotland). His aim was to reflect a melodic line and overall mood without using cantabile and there are elements of recitative in his writing. The Second Berlin School stressed text priority, strophic form as opposed to through composed and accompaniment in the background so that melody could stand alone
A contemporary of Johann Herder who believed that Germans were better than other nationalities. He helped Herder collect songs while in Strasbourg.
A group of German composers including Carl Zelter, Johann Reichardt, and Johan Zumsteeg whose works were important for influencing Franz Schubert. Carl Loewe, although younger than the other members is also considered a part of the the Second Berlin School. The Second Berlin School emphasized text priority, strophic settings preferable to through composed, and accompaniment in the background so that melody could stand alone.
Beethoven, member of the First Viennese School is best remembered as a symphonic composer, however his contributions to the lied are invaluable. He wrote An die ferne Geliebte the first song cycle and other lieder such as Adelaide and Wonne der Wehmut.
Goethe's novel which inspired Massenet's opera Werther. This novel set the standard for the Romantic literary tradition in Germany with the concept that people would commit suicide for unrequited love. In the Romantic era content proved more important than form of the French Enlightenment. This novella launched the Romantic Movement in German literature
These years mark the period of the First Viennese School which includes, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. (A few scholars include Schubert as well) Their music is characterized by late classical styles and in the case of Beethoven (and Schubert) a blend with the styles of the Romantic era.
French Revolution - vulnerable to Napoleon - lower classes revolted - paved way for the musical life in Italy and Austria - particularly the salon in Mettenich's censored Austria.
Also considered a member of the Second Berlin School Loewe and is best remembered THE composer of ballads, narrative song poems with a rhythm adapted for singing. The Second Berlin School valued text priority, strophic preferable to through-composed, accompaniment in the background so that the melody is present.
(See Poet Report - Blackboard - Tools and Communications - Wikis)
Franz Schubert is the first major composer of the modern Lied. According to Carol Kimball, "Schubert's Lieder produced a near-revolution in song composition influencing composers of the Lied for the remainder of the century." Schumann, Wolf and Brahms were highly influenced by this and continued to add to what Schubert had started to create the High Romantic Lied. Major works by Schubert include Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin, both with poetry by Wilhelm Müller as well as Schubert's setting of the Erlkönig.
Prolific French-Romantic writer set by the most famous French composers including Saint-Saëns, Bizet, and Gounod. Hugo's most famous works include The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables.
Hector Berlioz's early output of songs marks the beginning of the mélodie. His first songs were romances and strophic but he eventually published five volumes of mélodies, the most popular being the Mélodies irlandaises (Irlande) based on translated poetry into French (originally in English) by the Irish poet Thomas Moore. Les Nuits d'été marked the beginning of the mélodie as a song cycle. Berlioz always composed "orchestral mélodies" his equivalent to the orchestral lieder by Mahler and Strauss. Berlioz died while Mahler and Strauss were still children, proving how ahead of his time he was.
(See Poet Report - Blackboard - Tools and Communications - Wikis)
The three editions of Des Knabenwunderhorn by Clemens Brentano and Achim von Armin are highly regarded as some of the best German poetry. Most famously set by Mahler the themes of Des Knaben Wunderhorn include love, relgioon, humor, starvation, nature, war, deserters, and sweethearts. Other composers who set poems from Des Knaben Wunderhorn include Weber, Brahms and and Strauss to name a few.
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel wrote over 300 lieder some of which are now getting discovered and finally getting published. She was discouraged by her brother from publishing during her lifetime and it is for this reason her compositions are just now being discovered. She was able to publish two book of songs for voice and piano, four books of piano music and one book of partsongs before her death. Fanny's style was influenced by folk songs, strophic with repetitive rhythms.
Du bist die Ruh
Sehnsucht nach Italien
A student of Carl Zelter, Mendelssohn was exposed to classical music at a young age. Seventy-nine lieder are listed under his name, although the first five lieder really belong to his sister Fanny. Kimball describes his lieder as "charming, lyrical...characterized by a fine sense of melody and a vivid sense of poetic atmosphere.
Bei der Wiege
Robert Schumann is extremely important to the development of the lied because he took Schubert's supportive and descriptive piano accompaniment and made it an equal partner with the voice. Now there were piano preludes, interludes and postludes. Schumann came from an extremely literate family which influenced his choice of serious poets such as Eichendorff, Heine and Goethe. He edited the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik a musical journal where he signed everything by the name of Florestan (fiery) and Eusebius (dreamy) his two alter egos.
Hungarian born Liszt lived in Austria, France, Germany and Italy so he is neither a "German" nor a "French" composer. He was known as THE piano virtuoso of the nineteenth century and became a celebrity. He is especially crucial to the development of the salon in France because he introduced Schubert 's Lieder into the French salons. The French then modeled their mélodies after Schubert. Liszt's most famous mélodie or "French Lied" as according to Carol Kimball, author Frits Noske calls this style is Oh! quand je dors (poetry by Victor Hugo).
Richard Wagner although predominantly an operatic composer influenced the Lied and its composers heavily among them Liszt and Wolf. His writing of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) demanded that singers have a heightened sense of speech while performing.
His own personal contribution to the lied comes in the form of the Wesendonck lieder, his love affair with Mathilde Wesendonck. Wesendonck No. 5 Träume anticipated his operatic style and was a birthday present for Mathilde. Wagner even wrote in French, Les deux Granadier during his brief time in Paris.
The lands which Napoleon conquered in the French Revolution met to re-divide and redistribute their boundaries after the fall of Napoleon. The Austrian minister Metternich grew increasingly paranoid during this time and and intimidated members of the German Confederation. He placed censorship everywhere he could throughout Austria - even in the schools because he could not trust even his country's teachers. This suppression and censorship gave rise to the first salons where people could express their ideas about music, art, and literature freely in the privacy of their own homes
The composition date for Schubert's Gretchen am Spinnrade which is considered the birthday of the modern Romantic lied!
This is one of the three "Amus Mirabili" in German lieder. During this year Schubert wrote 250 songs.
The first salons which grew out of Metternich's oppression and censorship at the end of the Congress of Vienna. Urbanization and industrialization also grew in this period. The word Biedermeier is now commonly used to describe a particular style of furniture of this era with simple graceful curves as opposed to the the angular lines of the French. The Biedermeier era was social phenomenon of family and private life.
Beethoven's most important contribution to the lied is An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved) the first song cycle. It is thirteen mintues long, with six unique sections. Each song is tied to transitional material in the piano, meaning that no one song can be excerpted or transposed. (If transposition is necessary, then the whole cycle would have to be transposed.)The songs are unified by poetry. An die ferne Geliebte is in cyclic form (beginning comes back at the end) and predates Schumann's Frauenliebe und leben.
Known as the "father of the mélodie" Gounod's popularity came into being during the decline of the Romance. According to Carol Kimball, "Gounod helped the mélodie become an independent, specifically French genre in its new phase in 1850".
Gounod began writing mélodies around 1840. and wrote over 200 songs. A great surge of French poetry was happening around this time and so the new phase of the mélodie spearheaded by Gounod had higher poetic qualities, were freed up from strict rhyme and meter, to accommodate the new poetry. Gounod's style is characterized by his elegance and grace, and Italianate style (He studied in Rome for a period of time after he won the Prix de Rome). Gounod's contributions are invaluable to the mélodie.
Viens, les gazons sont verts
O ma belle rebelle
Clara Schumann wife of Robert Schumann, pianist and composer represents the success of the woman as a musician. Most women during this time were amateur musicians at best and were "confined to the home" (Kimball). They played evening concerts, but even if the amateur women were composers, their compositions were almost never played. Clara went performed concerts during her eight pregnancies and edited and interpreted Robert's work.
She contributed three collections of Lieder to the Romantic lied
her most famous contributions are Liebst du um Schönheit Op.37/12 with husband Robert Schumann (his 37th opus, her 12th) and Er ist gekommen in Sturm und Regen.
The Schubertiaden were salons, similar to the Biedermeier salons hosted by Schubert for his friends. At the Schubertiaden they would discuss music, poetry, and literature in private. Poets would come to Schubert with their poetry to see if it could be set to music. They would also perform Schubert's works including a staging of the Erlkönig with four voices as the Narrator, Father, Son and Erlkönig respectively.
(See Poet Report - Blackboard - Tools and Communications - Wikis)
Der Freischutz by Carl Von Weber marked the beginning of German Opera
International mezzo-soprano and composer Pauline Viardot held the best salons in France. She held two old celebrated salons one fro music, and one for literature, which is not so surprising as she was undoubtedly influenced by Liszt, her piano teacher throughout her childhood. She was also the sister of soprano Maria Malibran who she outlived by several years.
Viardot married the much older Louis Viardot who introduced her to the most influential poets of the time, including the Russian poet Ivan Turgenev, with whom Viardot would have a ménage à trois until both men's death in 1883. Viardot wrote over 100 songs "salon pieces of the day" (Kimball), was a gifted pianist, fluent in five languages, admired by Clara Schumann, and had works written for her such as Alto Rhapsody by Brahms.
Although Franck wrote few songs, his style is influential as he experimented with chromatic harmony and cyclic form. He was deeply religious and brought depth to the mélodie. He taught other famous composers such as Duparc, Chausson, and d'Indy. Franck, along with Saint-Saëns, Duparc and Bussine founded the Société Nationale de Musique, a group committed to performing French chamber music and to promote concert attendance over opera attendance.
Franck's Best Mélodies:
While not the first song cycle (An die ferne Geliebte, Beethoven), according to Carol Kimball, Die schöne Müllerin is considered to be the first GREAT song cycle of the nineteenth century. Written eight years after An die ferne Geliebte, Die schöne Müllerin is unique because unlike Beethoven's cycle this work can be excerpted (each song stands alone.) The story centers around a young miller who fall in love with the master miller's daughter; however she loves another and he eventually kills himself. Principal characters include the young miller, the master miller's daughter, the huntsman (master miller's daughter's boyfriend) and the brook who is a friend and a confidante to the young miller. The musical and poetic aspects to this cycle are so crucial to understanding this beloved cycle. Within the brook, Schubert employs "water figures" to illustrate the brook. The major colors in this cycle are green which represents the böse (bad) farbe the hunstman for the young miller, the grass he lies down in, the color he wears as he contemplates his death, the liebe (loved) farbe blue, the maiden's eyes, color of brook flowers, and white for purity (the flour). This cycle is a beautiful blend of Schubert's descriptive melodies and supportive piano accompaiment in the folk style.
Schubert's second epic song cycle Winterreise, is an interior drama with little change of mood, a protagonist who is at war with society and fate with no resolution.
Event that inspired Heinrich Heine (see poet report) and Victor Hugo's Les Misérables.
Brahms is without a doubt one of the greatest German composers. He loved folk melodies and wrote about 100 arrangements of his favorites. He is seen as a forward looking composer who appreciated and utilized older styles (counterpoint and classical forms.) Brahms did not think text was always so important and valued music over text. There is much speculation as to whether or not Brahms and Clara Schumann were ever more than friends. (His feelings for her are clear.)
His output: Brahms' only song cycle, Magelone Lieder poetry by Tieck his Vier Ernste Gesänge (Four serious songs), and Deutsche Volkslieder
The French Mélodie - the name given for French art song - thrived from Berlioz to Poulenc (a span of about 130 years.) Berlioz wrote the first quote cycle of "Mélodies" called Les Nuits d'été in 1841. This cycle marked the treatment of the mélodie as a serious form.
According to Carol Kimball, The mélodie emerged as a result of "the decline in the artistic level of the eighteenth-century Romance (French art song marked by its simplicity), the introduction into France of Schubert's Lieder, which became very popular and widely published and disseminated, and the new romantic poetry (namely Paul Verlaine, Charles Baudelaire, and Victor Hugo) that called for new compositional styles and techniques".
Themes include the French fascination with the oriental/exotic,
the Moor influence (Spain), the tradition of the Flamenco and the second as an interval.
Saint-Saëns was an impressive composer whose lyrical atmosphere evoked influences from the days of Schubert and Schumann. His mother was extremely demanding and perhaps is the reason he explored so many exotic scenes in his composition as she was so overbearing he always had to be near her. Themes in his mélodies include seraglio dancers, passionate and voluptous dreams, and opium. His favorite poet was Victor Hugo and according to Graham Johnson "was a pioneer in the setting of Victor Hugo". Saint-Saëns set Hugo's Le pas d'armes du Roi Jean, a historical ballad as well as L'attente and La Cloche. He wrote his Mélodies Persanes in 1870.
Although mostly known as a composer of ballets, Delibes composed in the style of the chansonette, a light song more lively and engaging than the Romance and not so heavily influenced by the German lied. In this respect the chansonette was anti the French Romantic era and influenced by Spain, Italy the Orient and the Danube countries. It is known for its rhythm, melody, harmony, and folk elements.
La Filles de Cadix
Georges Bizet wrote mélodies intended for professionals. He wrote forty-eight songs in three collections. He studied with Gounod at the Conservatoire and his influence is noticeable although Bizet's music is much more rhythmic and than Gounod's. Bizet wrote very well for the voice and his writing is filled with "passion" and "life" according to Saint-Saëns and "light, sensibility, and charm" according to Fauré.
Contributions to the Mélodie:
The second of the Amus Mirabili, 1840 is the Miracle Year for Robert Schumann, the "Year of Song." whenhe composed 138 songs including the great song cycles Dichterliebe, Liederkreis, Frauenliebe und - leben. He married his long sought after bride Clara Schumann in this year and many of his songs are dedicated to her.
Chabrier is a very conventional and quintessentially French composer. He wrote few songs and they favor the older style of the Romance. He achieves a style that is both strophic and musically allows for text depiction. He is most known for his "barnyard songs" with poetry by Rosamond Gérard, and Edmond Rostand (Cyrano de Bergerac).
The first mélodie song cycle by Berlioz and is of great importance to the mélodie as a genre. The piece is unique because although it is one cycle, the songs within the cycle are not written for the same singer/voice type. Nos. 1, 4, and 6 are best sung by a soprano, No. 2 for a contralto, No.3 for a baritone, and No. 5 for a tenor. Normally today one singer sings the entire cycle with transpositions. The outer mélodies are more joyous (optimistic) and the inner mélodies are more introspective and wistful.
Although best known as an operatic composer, Massenet contributed to the mélodie by bringing to it a sense of sentimentality and refinement. He was enormously successful and his output surpasses any other. He published about 260 songs in eight volumes. Massenet was particularly fascinated by the thespian and his mélodie titled Prélude makes use of a declamatory spoken voice and many of his other songs are half-sung/half-spoken in both the Expression Lyriques and the Poème d'avril.
Significant contributions to the Mèlodie:
Opus 12 - Élégie, Si tu veux Mignonne
(See poet report - Blackboard, Tools and Communications - Wikis)
Carol Kimball credits Fauré along with Duparc and Debussy as one of the three composers who perfected the mélodie. His mélodies expand textures and convey deeper emotions more subtly and profoundly than many of the mélodie composers who came before him. He has three style periods his early style from 1860-1865, (sentimental, yet mature - lydia middle style from 1880-1904 (parnassian and symbolist -cinq mélodies de venise) and his late style from 1906-1922 (lean sparse textures (Mirages). His breakthrough mélodie was Lydia and the themes of Lydia return in his famous La bonne chanson of his second period.
Only sixteen Duparc songs exist. He paralleled Hugo Wolf in his manic perfectionism and destroyed most of his output. Duparc translated German influences and brought them into a new French idiom. Duparc was extemely operatic in scope. He like "violin voices" voices that could spring easily and voices that were rangy. Wagner's music was a very important influence on Duparc. He was transfixed by Wagner's unusually expanded rhythms, harmonic language, and enharmonic modulation. He helped to found the Société Nationelle de Musique whose motto was "Ars Gallica" or "French Art" Due to illness Duparc stopped composing in 1885.
L'invitation au voyage
The new phase of the mélodie begins as more highly literary French poets come onto the scene such as Victor Hugo, Alfred de Musset, la Fontaine and Théophile de Banville. Now freer forms could take the place of strict meters and French composers learned to gracefully "accomodate" (Kimball) the new poetry.
Chausson had the privilege of studying with both Franck and Massenet. He falls in an interesting position in Music History between the Musical compositional styles of Duparc and Debussy. He came from a wealthy family and held his own salon on the Boulevard de Courcelles for other disciples of Franck. He was both religious and pessimistic in nature. He wrote an opera, Le Roi Arthur, but his heart lay in smaller works such as the song. He blended Franck-like chromaticism with classical simplicity. His most famous songs are Les Papillons and Le Temps des Lilas.
Affectionately called "little Mozart" by Bizet, he insisted that Cécile be enrolled in the Conservatoire de Paris. Chaminade's father refused at the time as Cécile was after all a woman and women were meant to stay in the home as a wife and mother. Bizet took care that Cécile received private instruction rivaling the conservatoire. She was even exposed to the great composers Gounod, Massenet, Chabrier, and Saint-Saëns through her family's salon. She was a quite talented pianist and (after her father's death) toured Europe and the United States performing her own compositions. She wrote over 100 songs and her music retains much of the nineteenth century French style never moving into modernism as Debussy and Poulenc had as she was appalled by the twentieth century.
Renowned for both his conducting and compositions, Mahler's contributions are invaluable to the German lied. He was one of the first composers (along with Berlioz in the French sphere) to write lieder with orchestral accompaniments known as the orchestral lied. The orchestral lied offered more opportunities to explore a wider range of colors and a variety of textures than the piano could offer. Most of Mahler's song cycles are orchestrated, including his famous setting of Des Knaben Wunderhorn by Achim von Arnim and Klemens Brentano.
Notable contributions to the lied.
- 24 Wunderhorn songs (1880-1885)
Hugo Wolf was a manic composer who wrote the most intellectual lieder of any of his contemporaries. He published 245 songs, 200 written in over his Miracle Years of 1888 to 1891 (see timeliine). He wrote five major songbooks including the works of Mörike, Eichendorff, Goethe and the Spanisches and the Italienisches Liederbücher. He would write up to three songs a day and his whole creative period (if you don't count eating, drinking, sleeping, etc.) was finished in 18 months. He ran himself so ragged that he fell into a depression from the years 1892 - 1894. He wrote one opera Der Corregidor and left an unfinished opera behind. He is the master of art songs with his wit and comedic timing and is effectively able to combine religion and love with slap/stick humor. He died hospitalized due to mental instability.
Richard Strauss though most celebrated for his operatic output is also celebrated for his orchestral lieder. His most productive "song period" lasted from 1899-1901 in which he wrote 31 songs (Op. 10 to Op. 49). His greatest contribution to the Lied is that he continued in the tradition of Berlioz and Mahler in that he wrote orchestral accompanied lieder which could encompass more colors and textures than a piano.
- over 100 lieder
-15 originally written for orchestra; 27 vocal/piano later re-scored by Strauss for orchestra
-famous lieder: Op. 27, Allerseelen, Vier letze lieder (Four last songs)
The piano lieder lose popularity as composers such as Mahler and Strauss begin to write orchestral lieder.
The Sociéte Nationale de Musique was founded by Franck, Duparc, Saint-Saëns, and Bussine in order to promote the composition and performance of French chamber music as well as to promote concert attendance over opera attendance. Their motto was "Ars Gallica" or "French Art".
a Venezuelan by birth, Hahn made a great career in France and wrote at the height of the mélodie called la belle époque. Hahn wrote a variety of mélodies; eighty-four French mélodies, five English songs, and six songs in Venetian dialect. Hahn was very opinionated about the styles of singing and later a book titled Du chant was compiled of his lectures. Hahn wrote for the voice "baryton matin" a high baritone comfortable with F's and G's, which is believed to be his own voice type. Hahn's restained passion falls between the styles of Gounod and Massenet.
The third "Amus Mirabili." tHugo Wolf, although a brilliant composer was also undoubtedly a fanatic and composed several songs a day. He composed over 200 songs within these two years, his Mörike lieder, his Goethe lieder, Eichendorff lieder,Geibel lieder and Keller and Heyse lieder. This intense output brought on a depression which lasted two years before he began composing again in 1895.
A period in French history that in terms of vocal music meant the height of the mélodie.
Edmond Rostand,writer and poet whose poems as well as the poems of his wife, Rosamond Gérard were used by Chabrier for his barnyard songs, writes the epic Cyrano de Bergerac.