FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and Links

Q.What is this? Who owns this site? Who runs it?

A. Emily Ezust first opened the Archive on May 24, 1995 as a personal project hosted in a student account at McGill University, and titled it "The Lied and Song Text Page", which later expanded to "The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive". It was generously hosted by the REC Music Foundation from 1996 until June, 2015, when it became "The LiederNet Archive".

Please read the introduction for more information, and take a small tour of special features.

This website is owned by the LiederNet Corporation, a private Ontario corporation founded to preserve and protect the Archive.

Emily Ezust's LinkedIn page is here. Besides adding new material almost every day, Emily has written tens of thousands of lines of code to allow visitors to view and navigate the material in interesting and useful ways. Many dedicated and generous volunteers help out from around the world, a growing number of whom are using a content-management system Emily developed and made available in January, 2017.

Emily will be taking your questions.

Q.What's a Lied?

A.The word Lied is German for song (pronounced /leet/). The plural is Lieder (pronounced /leeder/). Kunstlied is the proper term for "art song" in German, but music-lovers speaking English or French commonly refer to German art songs as just plain Lieder. Note that this site includes art songs in many languages (e.g., in French, the terms chanson and mélodie are used as well as lieder).

Q.OK, then what's an “art song”?

A. Like most categorizations in classical music (even the term "classical music" is problematic), this is a very difficult definition to make due not only to the blurring of lines that many contemporary compositions create, but also due to the overlap of popular music, pop classics, broadway musicals, and folk music. This definition is intended only as a rough guide to the genre.

An art song is a relatively short piece of music written by a person commonly referred to as a "composer" and set to a poetic text (often, but not always, a pre-existing or separately-published poem) for a classically-trained vocalist with some form of accompaniment (usually but not restricted to the piano). During a performance, which is usually in a recital hall these days, even if the piece was originally intended for the salon, the audience sits quietly without smoking, eating or drinking (unless very stealthily). The singer is rarely also the composer of the song. The lighting rarely changes during a performance, and no special set, scenery, or costume (besides typical recitalwear) is required.

Q.Where can I buy sheet music for   ?

A.Get it from Glendower Jones! Classical Vocal Reprints specializes in Art Song, Oratorio, Opera, Choral and Musical Theatre scores.

Classical Vocal Reprints
  Classical Vocal Reprints

To locate public-domain sheet-music online, a few good starting points are the IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library (the free public domain sheet music library), Art Song Central and, for choral works, the Choral Public Domain Library.

If you are looking for something out-of-print or otherwise quite rare, your local university music library might have what you need. You might also be able to do an interlibrary loan through a public library.

Q.Where can I hear the songs online?

A. Here are a few URLs to get you started:

Q.I'm a composer/publisher/performer and I've written/published/performed some wonderful new art songs that you really ought to have in your database. What should I do to get them included?

A. We'd be glad to include them! Please send material to: 

Please send as much information as you can stand to send. Include (if possible) dates of composition and publication, instrumentation details, the full name of the author of the text, notes on textual variation(s) if they exist, and the copyright status for the text. If you send information about a song cycle, please describe the individual movements. If you don't have the texts at hand, first lines are very useful to have.

Q.Why do the first lines of texts sometimes appear at the top of texts instead of titles?

A. When the author of a text chooses one title and a composer who sets the text to music chooses another title, the headline shown at the top becomes the italicized first line. The various titles can then be seen below the text, next to the author and the composer name(s).

When possible, we show translated titles in the footnote area of a given translation, for example in this translation to German of a poem by John Keats.

Q.What is the purpose of the rectangles beside titles and first lines in the composer and poet index files, such as  ITA ,  ENG ,  FRE , and  SPA ?

A. These rectangles are used to indicate the existence of translation in a given language. The list of the three-letter codes is here but you can also hover the mouse over the rectangle to see the language.

Q.I could have sworn    composed a song named   , but it isn't in your index. Am I wrong?

A. Not necessarily. Our lists are not always comprehensive. Let us know and we'll investigate.

Q.I noticed a lot of wrong words in a text. What's going on?

A. Composers often change the words to fit their music. If you need a text as a stand-alone poem, please make sure you check whether the author's text has been verified. This will be indicated in green beside the author's name.

When possible, we note textual differences as footnotes.

Q.Did you know that you have lots of typos in   ?

A. Oops! Please let us know about them - we would love to fix them. Send a detailed message to: 

Please keep in mind that if a text seems to have many typos, it may be using an older spelling style.

Q.Do you have a translation of   ?

A. If you don't see it on the website, we probably don't have it, but sometimes we can find someone to write one. Send a message to: 

Q.I sent you a translation/text to post two months ago and it hasn't been posted! What's going on?

A.Sometimes it takes us a while to process, verify and integrate all the material we receive, but we are always grateful for new material. Thank you for your patience.

Q.What kind of technology does your site use? [and other technical questions]

A.The website is written in Perl 5 and uses DBIx::Class to connect to the Aurora (MySQL) database. Emily Ezust has written tens of thousands of lines of Perl code to allow specialized viewing and editing, with administrative features and a content-management system for guest editors. As of August 6, 2019 we have Shawn Thuris to thank for the Archive's new look. More information can be found in A Small Tour of Special Features.

Q.Why don't you post scores as well as texts?

A. There is already a fantastic online resources for scores - the Petrucci Music Library. They are one of our super donors.

Q.Do you plan to add biographical information on composers or poets, and perhaps other information that could go into program notes?

A. No, because there are so many resources on-line already.

Q.Can you add an search by theme or subject? For example, if I searched for "nightingale" I'd like to find any song not just with more than a passing reference to a "nightingale" but also to a rossignol, Nachtigall, соловей, Philomel, or so forth.

A. We recommend you visit the excellent SongHelix Project, which lets visitors search or browse by subject.

Q.Where can I find information on how to pronounce words in different languages?

A. Try IPASource (provides many IPA versions of art song texts) or The Diction Domain

Q.What can I do to help?

A.Any of these: write translations, obtain texts, take note of typos or incorrect dates, report textual variants, or even just send lists of works. You can also send me material by post if you don't have time to type things in. And get your friends to help too if you can! Please e-mail: 

As of January 2017, we have a guest editor system that will let you add material directly to the website. If you're interested, please send an e-mail to Emily directly: 

Q.Is the LiederNet Archive really older than Wikipedia? Can you prove it?

A. Sure. You can use the WayBack machine to see what we looked like in 1997. And this is a post I made in the USENET group rec.music.classical (now hosted as Google Groups) in 1995 announcing the website. (This was before Twitter and Facebook, etc.)

Q.Can you write me an essay for school? [usually asked in more roundabout ways]

A. Nope!