German Song Onstage, 1770-1914

German Song Onstage 1770-1914
12-14 February 2016, Royal College of Music London

Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in the public musical concert as an artistic, cultural and social phenomenon. The purpose of this conference is to explore the role a largely private genre – German song– played within these public events. Concert programmes are littered with cryptic mentions of ‘Lied’ or ‘Gesang’, and although the specific songs are rarely listed, song seems to have played a small but essential role in the makeup of public concerts alongside the more obvious symphonies, concerti, overtures and even arias. Furthermore, as William Weber has argued, it was the inclusion of song which upset the eighteenth-century hierarchies of concert genres, leading to a change in concert programming over the century. Alongside this was the gradual emergence of the practice of singing complete song cycles beginning in the 1850s, and the even later concept of the dedicated song recital.
We invite researchers to submit proposals exploring the following questions:
– What function did German song have within the public concert and how did this shift during the century?
– Which venues and cities both inside and outside the Austro-German realm were particularly significant in the emergence of German song as a recital-worthy genre?
– Who were the singers of German song both inside and outside the Austro-German realm, and what role did song play within their wider repertoires?
– How did the notion of song accompaniment emerge, and how did multifaceted musicians like Liszt, Clara Schumann, or Brahms respond to this work?
– How was German song in concert received by critics and the public?
– How did performers approach programming strategies in concerts and how did this evolve?

Keynote speaker: Professor Susan Youens (University of Notre Dame)

We welcome abstracts in English and German of no more than 250 words for
– Paper presentations (max. length 20 minutes)
– Panel presentations (maximum length 1.5 hours including questions): please submit a general abstract of 250 words and individual abstracts of 250 words for each named speaker.
– Lecture-recitals (maximum length 40 minutes)
All abstracts should be accompanied by 250-word biographies of all participants.

A special feature of the weekend is the reproduction of three historical concerts by senior students at the Royal College of Music. These concerts will be open to the public and will take place in the College’s Parry Rooms, Britten Theatre and Concert Hall. All prospective presenters are therefore strongly encouraged to propose a concert programme of particular historical significance, such as the first performance of a major cycle, or a ‘pedagogical’ concert, or a miscellaneous programme in which German song plays a substantial role. Concert proposals should include the following where possible:
– The date, time (if possible), venue, and performers of the concert
– The complete programme of music performed
– The original programme leaflet
– A 250-word rationale for proposing the concert
Concert proposals will be evaluated jointly by the committee panel and the Artistic Planning Group of the Royal College of Music.

Abstracts, biographies and concert proposals should be sent to by 29 May 2015. Presenters will be advised as to their acceptance or otherwise by 29 June 2015. Following the conference, selected presentations will be published in an edited volume surveying the history of German song onstage, and presenters may wish to keep this in mind.

Natasha Loges, Royal College of Music
Laura Tunbridge, Oxford University

This event will take place in collaboration with the German Historical Institute, London.