Document Type



Art song, Lied, Song, Alto Rhapsody, Gretchen am Spinnrade, Erlkönig, Dichterliebe, Book of the Hanging Gardens, Transmemberment, Ninth Symphony


Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature | Music | Musicology | Other Arts and Humanities


This revised version of an essay first published in 1984 sustains the impetus of the original to upend the traditional understanding of song, in particular of art song, as a harmonious fusion of words and music. Song in general, and art songs or Lieder in particular with their generically mandated dependence on preexisting poetic texts, produces a much wider range of text-music relationships than mere fusion, many of them riddled with tension, cross-purposes, and even outright antagonism. Among song genres, the Lied stands out historically for giving prominence to the diversity of these relationships, starting in the early nineteenth century. The essay theorizes the complex character of word-music interaction in the art song and explores a sampling of them in Lieder or Lied-related music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Arnold Schoenberg, with some attention to other traditions both earlier and later

Publication Title

Lawrence Kramer, Song Acts: Writings on Words and Music (Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2017)

Article Number


Publication status

pre-submission, Spring 2017; The author holds the copyright and has licensed Brill to reprint the article

Publication Date