Song Cycle

The Song Cycle was developed in Germany during the early 19th century. Song Cycles are groups of songs with musical accompaniment. The lyrics are often taken from poems or the works of a single poet and based on a theme such as life, music, nature, or even love. Song Cycles can pertain to most any topic. The songs of the cycle will usually be founded harmoniously in the same key or closely related keys (refer to, Chords & Keys / Enharmonic)

Composers known for the use of song cycles are Hugo Wolf, Schubert, Schumann, and others. Schubert's gift for matching music to lyrics can be heard in masterpieces such as 'Wintereise.' His true successor is Schubert with his work on '1840,' written and inspired entirely for his wife Clara Wieck, also a competent musician.

During that same century, Mahler took the song cycle into symphony. Faure' too wrote contributions during this period of traditional French song composing.

More recent occurrences of the Song Cycle can be heard in works by English composers like Britten, Tippett, or in Janacek's 'Diary of One Who Disappeared' along with Vaughan Williams giving song cycles new international exposure.

Romantic Song Cycle


Composed by Frank Peter Schubert 1827

Modern Song Cycle


Composed by Luciano Berio 1960

Renowned Song Cycles with composers arranged by date















'An die Feme Gelieble'
'Frauenliebe und Leben'
'Led Nuits D'ete'
'Italienisches Liederbuch'
'La Bonne Chanson'
'Chansons de Blilitis'
'Das Lied von der Erde'
'Pierrot Lunaire'
'Vier Letzte Lieder' (Last Four Songs)
'Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson'
Ludwig von Beethoven
Frank Peter Schubert
Robert Schumann
Hector Berlios
Johannes Brahms
Hugo Wolf
Gabriel Faure'
Claude Debussy
Gustav Mahler
Arnold Schoenberg
Benjamin Britten
Richard Strauss
Aaron Coplan
Luciano Berio