Des Knaben Wunderhorn – 12 Songs

Introduction Des Knaben Wunderhorn, 12 songs

Mahler set a total of fourteen large-scale songs with orchestral accompaniment to texts from the folk collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

  1. Lied 11: Urlicht was rapidly incorporated (with expanded orchestration) into the 2nd Symphony (1888–1894) as the work's fourth movement.
  2. Lied ...
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Lied 1: Der Schildwache Nachtlied

Der Schildwache Nachtlied is a complex military-style song with trumpet calls and drum rolls, but it is also a dialogue song. The sentinel's defiant rejection of joy and love is three times interrupted by more tender music setting words of his beloved. He rejects these, becoming more defiant and ...
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Lied 10: Lob des hohen Verstandes

Lob des hohen Verstandes is, like the Fischpredigt, a satirical song. It is of a jolly nature, describing a singing contest between the cuckoo and the nightingale. The judge of the contest is an ass. The ass of course declares the cuckoo the winner. The musical painting of the ...
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Lied 12: Es sungen drei Engel einen Sussen Gesang

Bimm Bamm. Es sungen drei Engel einnen Sussen Gesang (German: Armer Kinder Bettlerlied). "What the Angels Tell Me". The text is loosely based on a 17th-century ...
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Lied 2: Verlor'ne Muh!

Verlorene Müh' is another dialogue song, and it is in the distinctive Swabian dialect. It is a sort of fruitless serenade in a playful 3/8 rhythm. It is quite similar to the famous song by Brahms called Vergebliches Ständchen, but with a reversal of gender roles. The foolish girl ...
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Lied 3: Trost im Ungluck

Trost im Unglück describes the feelings of somebody trying to move past a lost or rejected love, comforting himself with the assurance that he loved her out of foolishness and can live without her.

Year 1892. Lied 3: Trost im Ungluck. 'Trost im Ungluck (aus der "Knaben ...
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Lied 4: Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht?

Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht? is another pastoral setting and, as Verlorene Müh'; it is in 3/8 meter. It is a typical rustic scene involving admiration of an innkeeper's daughter living on a hill. The song is reflexive however, and ends by asking the question of who came up ...
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Lied 5: Das irdische Leben

Das irdische Leben is a grim little piece, perhaps providing the negative counterpart to Das himmlische Leben, the song that became the finale of the Fourth Symphony. The music is of a decidedly eerie nature, employing divided strings in a quiet perpetual motion. Some of the string parts play ...
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Lied 6: Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt

Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt, in 3/8 time, is best known as the source for the music of the scherzo of the Second Symphony. Its music employs strings and winds in perpetual motion as well as interjecting woodwind figures. The ironic text describes a saint who, on finding an ...
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Lied 7: Rheinlegendchen

Rheinlegendchen is perhaps the most tender of the settings and, as many others of a pastoral nature, employs a 3/8 meter. It is quite lightly scored and very leisurely in pace. It describes the story of a girl who throws her ring into the sea hoping that her true ...
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Lied 8: Lied des Verfolgten im Turm

Lied des Verfolgten im Turm is very similar to Der Schildwache Nachtlied, but now the protagonist is a prisoner. Again, the style is military. The burden of the song is the refrain that thoughts are free, despite the fact that he himself is not. Again, this is a dialogue ...
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Lied 9: Wo die schonen Trompeten blasen

Wo die schönen Trompetten blasen is another rather sad, but achingly beautiful song. This song combines elements of the military and the pastoral. The trumpet and horn calls are soft, however, and we are dealing with a meeting of two lovers before the man goes off to war. The ...
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Orchestration Des Knaben Wunderhorn, 12 songs


  • 3 Bassoon. 
  • 2 Clarinet A. 
  • 2 Clarinet Bb. 
  • 1 Cor Anglais (English horn).  
  • 2 Flute. 
  • 2 Oboe. 
  • 1 Piccolo. 
  • 1 Piccolo clarinet Eb.


  • 4 Horn F (French horn). 
  • 1 Trombone.
  • 2 Trumpet F. 
  • 2 Trumpet Bb.
  • 1 Tuba. 

String sections