Thomas Hampson was 17 years old when he discovered his deep love for the German art song: "The songs almost swallowed me up and opened the door to a world of imagination that had been foreign to me until then."
A few decades later, he is not only considered one of the most important lied composers of our time, he is also an exquisitely enthusiastic expert on the cultural-historical context of the lied repertoire from the classical period to the present. As part of his honorary professorship at the University of Heidelberg, he gave three lectures, which, with numerous audio examples, that were devoted to the interplay between history and song production in three distinctive periods of the 19th century.
The lectures tied in with his highly acclaimed SWR radio series "Das Lied als Spiegel seiner Zeit." The first lecture "Vienna around 1800" was about the art song, which between enlightened absolutism and the French Revolution was striving towards its first flowering. "Wagner and the Consequences" explored the tremendous influence of the music dramatist Wagner on song composers such as Hugo Wolf, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, and Claude Debussy. "Songs of the Fin de Siècle" finally, traced the farewell to the century of Romanticism: in the United States, Great Britain, France, and the German-speaking world. The sequence ended with an outlook on the Lied oeuvre of the composers of the Second Viennese School.