Author has written 2 stories for Lion King.
So what the heck is "Lieder" anyway? They're poetic songs from Germany ("Lied", pronounced "LEED", is the singular word for "song"; "Lieder" is plural), nothing too complicated about them. When people over on this side of the Atlantic started performing them, the word "German Lieder" crept into the English lexicon (which is kind of like saying "wet water"), and so that's what most people know them as today. Most credit Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann for writing the most famous cycles of Lieder, but other composers such as Beethoven produced their own cycles which were instrumental (no pun intended) in developing the genre into its full form. Most of the time, as many of these composers had a variety of problems with the ladies (and STDs, but that's another matter entirely), their songs are a rather artistic take on the "screw her, I don't need her anyway" approach to handling a bad break-up. Schumann's Dichterliebe, for example, for all its artistic merit, is little more than a glorified rant spelled out over sixteen songs, the seventh of which containins the particularly touching line, "I saw the blackness in your heart, and the snake that's feasting upon your fetid soul." No, Robert, tell us how you really feel about her.
As far as film composers go, Hans Zimmer and James Horner are two favorites (even though Zimmer writes in D minor and F major, which is just the relative major to D minor, as if his life depends on it, and Horner can't go five minutes without throwing in that Shostakovich-y "trumpet of doom" motif). If I had to pick a favorite classical composer, on the other hand, there's no way I could do that! Heinrich Heine, the German poet, said that "Music picks up where words leave off." Having spent so many years of my own life in music, I can fully attest to the fact that couldn't have been more correct.
Just a few favorite pieces I think are definitely worth a listen...these are all out there on youtube somewhere:
-Max Bruch, Kol Nidrei. Being Jewish myself, I've always had a soft spot for Jewish or Jewish themed music. I suppose Bruch might have more appropriately titled the piece Kol Nidrei Variations, as it belongs much more to the "variations on a theme" category than any other, but the title's fairly irrelevant. It's the best piece for cello and piano I can think of.
-Any of the Wagner overtures. Flying Dutchman, Mastersingers of Nuremburg, Lohengrin, it doesn't matter, they're all awesome and will detonate your speakers if left unattended.
-Camille Saint-Saens, Symphony No. 3 in C Minor. Also known simply as the "Organ Symphony", and somewhat unique in the symphonic world in that the piece really does feature a full pipe organ along with the orchestra. Other composers apart from Saint-Saens tried it from time to time, but he was the one who truly perfected it.
-Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 9. Where we get "Ode to Joy" from, although the familiar chorale doesn't appear until the end. Who can argue with that?
-Johannes Brahms, Deutsches Requiem. The prettiest, most moving piece for voice and orchestra ever written; not even the Mahler Second Symphony can beat it. Anyone who has ever thought that German can't sound beautiful--and in a world where most people associate German with Rammstein, that's understandable--has obviously never heard it. (For the record, I like Rammstein myself, but it does give the German language a somewhat angry reputation!)
-Carl Orff, Carmina Burana. Some of it's in Latin, some of it's in Middle German, all of it is pure epicness.
-Hector Berlioz, Grande Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale. Why this piece so often takes a back seat to the better-known Symphonie Fastastique I'll never know. The end movement is the kind of stuff you'd expect to hear in a movie battle sequence.
-Ralph Vaughan Williams, Tallis Fantasia. The theme to "Master and Commander". Slow, thoughful, and out-of-this-world gorgeous.
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