Books on music

The Songs of Hugo Wolf

Methuen 1961, Eulenburg 2/1983, 3/1992, Faber Finds 4/2008 [pp. xii, 401; ISBN 0 903873 32 X]

Foreword by Gerald Moore

This is the most important book in the English language on the songs of Hugo Wolf since Ernest Newman proclaimed the composer's genius in 1907. It is the first time, so far as I am aware, that every single song (except the posthumous which the author has rightly omitted) has been translated, examined and elucidated between the covers of one single volume. 


The songs of Robert Schumann

Methuen 1969, Eulenburg 2/1975, 3/1993, Faber Finds 4/2008 [pp. xii, 292; ISBN 0 903873 18 4]

Foreword by Gerald Moore

Eric Sams's The Songs of Hugo Wolf has proved of such immeasurable help to lovers of this composer, a source of such inspiration to those of us who sing and play his songs, that we can only be grateful that the author has now performed a similar service for Robert Schumann. 


Brahms Songs

2/1980 [pp.  68; ISBN 0 563 10431 7]


      The Lied as an art‑form arises when words inspire music which embodies them, just as a face or scene might move another artist to paint a portrait or landscape. So it is not necessarily the greatest poems that make the best Lieder, any more than it is the most beautiful faces or landscapes that make the best pictures. What matters is the quality of feeling distilled into the finished work of art. This comparison is especially apt to Brahms, whose song­themes are love and nature and whose penchant is for second‑rate verses on those themes. There are two reasons for that predilection. First, his passion for reading was self‑determined, and his apprecia­tion of it self‑taught; and he could never tell good verse from bad, or folk from fake. Secondly, and more important, he was above all a musician, seeking an outlet through poetry for his own feeling. His songs are always ready to turn into instrumental music; it is no mere chance that so many of them are echoed in his violin sonatas, nor that they contain so much long‑flighted melody and contra­puntal device.


The Songs of Johannes Brahms, Yale 2000

Yale, 2000, [pp. xii, 370; ISBN 0 300 07962 1]

Foreword by Graham Johnson

This is the most eagerly awaited book on lieder to be published in recent times. For twenty years there have been rumours of a 'Brahms' to complement the Sams Wolf and Schumann; indeed, it was beginning to seem a chimera as elusive and legendary as Proust's long-promised chef-d'oeuvre.