Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Vocal Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Esther Jane Hardenbergh

Second Committee Member

Alan Johnson

Third Committee Member

Robynne Redmon

Fourth Committee Member

Karen Henson


The solo vocal songs of Richard Wagner are an under-performed part of the standard classical vocal repertoire. In this paper, fifteen of Richard Wagner’s solo vocal songs have been researched and analyzed. The orchestrated solo works, fragments, songs with chorus, arias or operatic compositions of Richard Wagner were not considered in this paper. The background of each song is addressed including what was going on in Wagner’s life at the time they were written, and any note-worthy information about the poet of the text, or the text itself. A poetic translation of each text has been included. The songs are examined based on vocal requirements such as: range, tessitura, dynamic range, composer’s markings and special techniques, melodic and rhythmic aspects of the vocal line, text and diction, and suggested voice categories. Additionally, the piano accompaniments for each piece are analyzed and categorized. The songs discussed in this paper contain many of the styles, colors, and textures that Wagner would later use in his operas. These songs are a form of “Wagner in miniature” that allow a student to experience Wagnerian vocal music without the risk of injury to the vocal folds that is possible from attempting his arias. It is true that Wagnerian operatic works are not appropriate for every voice; however, his art songs are accessible to a large population of singers and in many ways are not any more challenging than the art songs that act as foundations of the standard vocal repertoire. Adding awareness of Wagnerian art songs helps diversify the standard repertoire list and provide a good introduction to the world of Wagnerian music to voice students and teachers.


Wagner song; Wagner; art song; German art song; song guide