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Peter Cornelius and German Lieder

Classical Academy | Composers | Romantic Period


You'll probably be familiar with German lieder, but you might not know one exceptional composer of this art song: Peter Cornelius. Recognisable for their apparent simplicity with their blissful union of word and music, beneath these songs lies a heartfelt musical and emotional profundity.


Cornelius composed lieder even when he was a little boy growing up in 19th century Germany. When he eventually moved to Vienna for five years, he struck up a close friendship with fellow composer Richard Wagner, who subsequently influenced his style. Despite this friendship, and his close ties with Liszt, Cornelius had a strained relationship with the "New German School" of composition. He spent much of his later life writing music criticism.


This album, which also features songs by his contemporaries, includes the wonderful group of narrative songs written and composed by Cornelius called Trauer und Trost. Composed in late 1854, the work combines six poems written earlier that year. It tells the emotional tale of a man whose beloved has died, "moving from grief in the real world to solace in a realm of dreams that assure her immortality" (Cmabridge Companion to the Lied).