• The Erlkings, music ensemble from Vienna

    Listen to Franz Schubert with The Erlkings

    The Erlkings reimagine the beautiful songs of Franz Schubert through the lens of a modern music vocabulary, giving them new life with delightful English translations. Listen to their radical take on Franz Schubert’s Lieder.

    The Erlkings, a Vienna-based ensemble, first took a deep dive into the world of Franz Schubert and his Kunstlieder (art songs) in 2013. Founder Bryan Benner--the group’s translator, singer, and guitarist--has reinterpreted the songs of this master composer with a modern music vocabulary and delightful English translations. By combining voice, guitar, cello, tuba, drums, and vibraphones, The Erlkings have created a whole new sound--one that even traditional art-song enthusiasts can enjoy as though hearing Schubert again for the first time.

    Listen to The Erlkings’ contemporary take on Franz Schubert’s classical Lieder.

    “Der König in Thule“

    This is the first Schubert song that Bryan Benner rearranged on guitar and subsequently translated into English. As he played around with it, he experienced a personal revelation: Franz Schubert’s Kunstlieder, however, cultivated and refined, have a great deal in common with ordinary folk songs and can be performed with similar simplicity and directness. This discovery lies at the core of The Erlkings’ work.


    Notoriously difficult to play on the piano, this song was the ideal testing ground for their new concept of Schubert on the guitar and in English. In fact, The Erlkings took their name from the title itself. The poem, much revered and beloved, epitomizes the German Romantic. It became the first true Erlkings arrangement, complete with vibraphone, cello and tuba. In many ways, this song is Kunstlied at its best: a thrilling depiction of sympathetic characters that refuse to lose their potency with time.



    This song from The Erlkings’ second album, "Die schöne Müllerin," represents the miller's apprentice unbridled joy, as he imagines the miller's daughter to be in love with him. There are few songs in the repertoire that The Erlkings have as much fun performing. Most of the songs in the cycle are filled with mixed emotions of doubt and longing, but here the poet experiences a moment of confidence and ecstasy, made all the more beautiful by the listener's understanding that this feeling cannot last.

    "Der Müller und der Bach"

    Throughout “Die schöne Müllerin” song cycle, the young apprentice-miller regularly speaks to his one friend and confidant, the river. It is only in this song, as he begins to descend into potentially suicidal acceptance of unrequited love, that the river speaks back to him. The Erlkings chose to accompany the lonely young man with a solo guitar, but when the river speaks back to comfort him, we hear for the first time a marvellous combination of vibraphone, cello and guitar. Alas, the river's comfort is not enough, and the poet asks the river to sing him one final song, releasing him into a sleep of death. By the end of this tragic sequence, there’s usually not a dry eye in the audience--or on stage.

    Learn more about The Erlkings and where in Vienna they perform:

    Erklings Version "Der Müller und der Bach"

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