Germanic Languages | Lyric - The German Poem
G627 | 25716 | M. Weiner
G627 The German Poem
BH664 TR 2:30-3:45
Marc A. Weiner
Topic: “German Poem/German Lied”
The course seeks to investigate an artistic form, the “lied,” or art
song, that, from the latter half of the 18th century to the present,
has been understood as a musical genre intimately associated with
the cultural life of German-speaking Europe, indeed for some so much
so that it constitutes a uniquely German art form. As a phenomenon
that emerged largely with the growth of the bourgeoisie, the
development of the German lied accompanied and heralded the
transformations of the German public sphere, initially in the form
of Geselligkeitslieder, then as the vocal genre of choice within the
salon and other small convivial gatherings of the early 19th
century, and thereafter as a staple of the ever more ubiquitous
institution of the concert hall. Concurrently, and in conjunction
with the new spatial and social settings of the lied, its form
developed as well, from that of largely strophic repetition, to
interrupted strophic form, to primarily through-composed musical
structures, and as it did so, it also came to encompass new
subgenres, such as the Liedzyklus and the melodrama.
But from its inception the term “lied” also simply signified a poem,
usually of two or more verses of identical form, intended to be sung
or suitable for singing. With that in mind, the course will examine
various kinds of lieder from the early 19th to the mid-20th century
as musical manifestations of specific interpretations of German
poetry—some of it of notoriously negligible aesthetic quality, and
others magnificent—so that in each case we will begin with an
analysis of the poetry in question, and only then take into
consideration our impressions of the musical settings as structures
of signification revealing a specific exegesis. We will examine
works by a variety of poets—Goethe, Müller, Jeitteles, Hölderlin,
von Chamisso, Mörike, Rückert, Heine, George, von Hofmannsthal, and
Hesse, as set to music by a variety of composers--Zelter, Schubert,
Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Mahler, Wolf, Strauss,
Pfitzner, Schoenberg, and Martin.
In the course of our investigations we will seek illumination from
diverse schools literary, musical, and musical-poetic criticism.
Whenever possible, we will also take into consideration different
examples of the “New Musicology,” many of the methodological tenets
of which will already be familiar from their origins in literary and
cultural criticism. The course is not conceived of as a survey,
neither of the German poem nor of the German lied, but as an
examination of diverse aesthetic accomplishments viewed as exemplary
of a variety of aesthetic phenomena, issues, and concerns.
It is important to stress that no familiarity with music or musical
terminology is required. However, students from departments other
than Germanic Studies should be aware of the fact that a fluent
reading knowledge of German is assumed.
Ideally, the course will provide a frame within which students may
test and apply the various approaches and concerns they have
encountered to the exploration of their own musical-poetic and
cultural interests as they formulate a research project. In the
final sessions, students will distribute, discuss, and mutually
critique drafts of their papers-in-progress, and will subsequently
submit a revised, final version by the middle of finals week. Since
this is a 600-, and not an 800-level course, the papers need not
(though, of course, they may) be more than ca. 15pp. in length, plus
Course grades will be computed as follows: Participation: 66%;
Burdorf, Dieter. Einführung in die Gedichtanalyse. 2nd ed.
Stuttgart: Metzler, 1997.
Fischer-Dieskau, Dietrich, ed. Texte deutscher Lieder: Ein
Handbuch. Munich: DTV, 2001.