German Repertoire

German Lieder are so numerous that it is impossible to know or even catalogue them all. Franz Schubert (1797–1818) alone wrote more than 600 Lieder we know of and many we do not. Besides Schubert, other composers of Lieder include Hugo Wolf, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Richard Wagner, Peter Cornelius, Carl Loewe, and Felix Mendelssohn, just to name a few.

The inspiration for most songs came from German poets, some very famous, some less known, who expressed the romantic soul of Germany. At that time, there were very few Germans who could not recite a Goethe or Schiller poem by heart. Recitation was also a great art form which was practiced by many people as a hobby.

Here are a few tips for singing Lieder. In German the consonants, especially “m”, “n”, and “r”, have to precede the beat. Aiming the vowel to start right on the beat helps for clarity of diction. The German vowels are straight and have no diphthongs unless they are written (e.g., “ei” or “au”). In contrast to the English pronunciation of the word “rose”, which is really “ro(oo)s”, the German word “Rose” is pronounced with a straight “o”. Attention to these details will also help you to be more aware of your English diction as well.