chapter  9
42 Pages

The Song Cycle: Journeys Through a Romantic John Daverio (revised and with an Afterword by

WithLandscape David Ferris)

The song cycle, as a cultural product of nineteenth-century German musical Romanticism, discloses a paradoxical movement between the artlessness, the noble simplicity demanded by the lied tradition, and the artfulness that a cyclic form should display. It is this interplay of the naive and the artful, of miniaturism and large-scale grouping, that makes the song cycle a quintessentially nineteenth-century phenomenon. Contraries of this sort served as the point of departure for many early critical accounts. As the reviewer of Schubert’s Winterreise for the Munich Allgemeine MusikZeitung put it in an article of 28 July 1828, “the task of a song cycle, if it is to form a beautiful whole, seems to us to be to carry in the detail and variety of its parts the conditions of a continuous and increasing interest.” Two years earlier, the reviewer of Heinrich Marschner’s Sechs Wanderlieder von Wilhelm Marsano Op. 35 similarly noted that, although the cycle’s six songs might be sung individually, “nonetheless they also relate so closely to one another that they form a kind of tragic Liederroman.”1