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Luise Eitel Peake

(Ger.: ‘song circle’)

A circle or club of people dedicated to the cultivation of popular song. Examples are the ‘Mittwochskränzchen’ (‘Cour d’amour’) that met during the early 1800s in Goethe’s Weimar home, the Stägemann circle in Berlin, 1815–18, that included the young poet Wilhelm Müller, the Dresden Liederkreis (‘Dichtertee’), c 1804–24, in which Weber met the poet Kind, and the ‘Schubertianer’ or friends of Schubert in Vienna, who held regular meetings during the 1820s. Liederkreis activities were varied, recreational as well as creative. They included singing simple group songs, playing charades and other games with songs, and listening to song performances staged with costumes, ‘attitudes’ or elaborate ‘living pictures’. To supply the demand parody texts were often set to song melodies from, for example, Das Mildheimische Liederbuch (ed. R.Z. Becker, 1799, 4/1810); either the melodies were rearranged or the verse newly set. Collections that reflected the work of a Liederkreis were titled accordingly, like J.H.C. Bornhardt’s ...