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date: 28 January 2020

Wiegenlied (Ger.: ‘cradle song’)locked

  • Malcolm Boyd

Extract

(Ger.: ‘cradle song’)

A song actually or supposedly designed to lull children to sleep; the German equivalent of the English Lullaby and the French Berceuse. Numerous examples of the Wiegenlied exist in German folk music (see E. Gerstner-Hirzel: Das volkstümliche deutsche Wiegenlied, Basle, 1984), and its influence can be discerned in many of the settings with piano accompaniment that belong to the 19th-century lied tradition, notably those of Bernhard Flies (wrongly attributed to Mozart as k350) and Brahms (op.49 no.4). Both these songs are typical of the genre in their use of flat keys (F major and E♭ major) and in their time signatures (6/8 and 3/4 respectively). Brahms’s Geistliches Wiegenlied for alto, viola and piano op.91 no.2 actually uses a folk melody, ‘Josef lieber, Josef mein’, and Brahms also included a Wiegenlied among the 14 folksong arrangements he made about 1858 for Clara Schumann’s children. Schubert’s well-known Schlafe, holder, süsser Knabe...

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