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The Song Cycle

A Minute with Miles

A song cycle is a set of songs whose texts—often by a single poet—are linked by a common subject, mood, or story. Though the songs of the cycle are all individual entities, they’re designed to be heard together.  And if the marriage of music and poetry in the song represents a 19th century Romantic ideal, the song cycle carries that ideal even further, allowing for an expanded range of expression, a deeper exploration of the individual psyche.

Beethoven’s An die Ferne Geliebte, “To the distant beloved,” is generally considered the first modern song cycle, and Beethoven’s work was followed by wonderful song cycles by Schubert, Schumann, Berlioz, Fauré, Debussy, and a whole host of other great 19th and 20th century song composers. Indeed many Twenty-first century composers still find themselves attracted, and challenged, by the expressive potential of the song cycle.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.