Spohr was first and foremost a violinist. His most popular songs in the repertoire today are his Deutsche Lieder
, Op 103, with piano and clarinet accompaniment, but it is entirely logical that he should have written a group of lieder with violin obbligato. These are the Sechs Deutsche Lieder
, Op 154, composed in 1856 and published the following year. Of the six songs this is the only Goethe setting. The writing for the violin is fiendishly difficult and poses a problem of balance that can only be solved by the finest violinist prepared to play in a truly ghostly fashion. Spohr must have been only too aware that there had been so many celebrated settings of this lyric that it was almost impossible to present a new viewpoint. His idea was clearly to use the violin to represent the beguilingly sweet and unearthly voice of the Erlkönig.
comparative Schubert listening:
Erlkönig D328. October (?) 1815
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006