Song Acts

Writings on Words and Music


This volume collects twenty of Lawrence Kramer’s seminal writings on art song (especially Lieder), opera, and word-music relationships. All examine the formative role of culture in musical meaning and performance, and all seek to demonstrate the complexity and nuance that arise when words and music interact. The diverse topics include words and music, music and poetry, subjectivity, the sublime, mourning, sexuality, decadence, orientalism, the body, war, Romanticism, modernity, and cultural change. Several of the earlier essays have been revised for this volume, which also contains a preface by the author and a foreword by Richard Leppert. The volume should be essential reading for scholars, students, performing musicians, and other music-lovers interested in musicology, word-music relationships, cultural studies, aesthetics, and intermediality.

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Lawrence Kramer, Ph.D (1972, Yale), Distinguished Professor of English and Music at Fordham University, has written prolifically on music, most recently in a trilogy on musical understanding: Interpreting Music, Expression and Truth, and The Thought of Music (University of California Press).

1 Song [1984]
2 The Schubert Lied: Romantic Form and Romantic Consciousness [1986]
3 Performance and Social Meaning in the Lied: Schubert’s Erster Verlust [1994]
4 “Syringa”: John Ashbery and Elliott Carter [1984; 1980]
5 Decadence and Desire: The Wilhelm Meister Songs of Wolf and Schubert [1987]
6 Hugo Wolf: Subjectivity in the Fin-de-Siècle Lied [1996/2009]
7 Recognizing Schubert: Musical Subjectivity, Cultural Change, and Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady [2002]
8 “Little Pearl Teardrops”: Schubert, Schumann, and the Tremulous Body of Romantic Song [2002]
9 The Harem Threshold: Turkish Music and Greek Love in Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” [1998]
10 Like Falling Leaves: The Erotics of Mourning in Four Drum-Taps Settings [2002]
11 Murderous Women in German Opera [2008]
12 “Longindyingcall”: of Music, Modernity, and the Sirens [2006]
13 Recalling the Sublime: The Logic of Creation in Haydn’s Creation [2009]
14 Wagner’s Gold Standard: Tannhäuser and the General Equivalent [2010]
15 The Talking Wound and the Foolish Question: Symbolization in Parsifal [2006]
16 The Great American Opera: Klinghoffer, Streetcar, and the Exception [2007]
17 Modern Madrigalisms: Elliott Carter and the Aesthetics of Art Song [2014]

Appendix: Unsung Words and Music

18 The Strange Case of Beethoven’s Coriolan: Romantic Aesthetics, Modern Subjectivity, and the Cult of Shakespeare
19 Tolstoy’s Beethoven, Beethoven’s Tolstoy: The Kreutzer Sonata [1997/2006]
20 Subjectivity Unbound: Music, Language, Culture [2003/2012]
Academic libraries, public libraries, practicing (performing) musicians, musical scholars, literary scholars, post-graduate students, educated non-academics, music teachers, song coaches, singers
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