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Wiener Lied (literally: Viennese song, plural: Lieder). The earliest evidence of the Wiener Lied can be traced back to approximately 1700; "Ehrliche Gemuethserquickung" (Honest Refreshment for the Mind), dated 1686, is often considered to be the oldest collection; it consists of students' songs rather than of actual Wiener Lieder. Several Wiener Lieder have been handed down from the 18th century, which were sung by harpists and itinerant ballad singers. They often contain obscene jokes (e.g. "Spittelberglieder") and critical comments on the government and were therefore only reluctantly tolerated by the authorities. In their early days, famous Wiener Lieder were already published on leaflets.

The real Wiener Lied reached its heyday in the 19th century, which is closely related to the development of Volkssaenger.The Wiener Lied was improved in terms of language and content by J. B. Moser and I. Nagel and social criticism and political jokes often made poets and singers clash with censorship during the Biedermeier period. The rise of popular entertainment during the last quarter of the 19th century (inns and restaurants in the Prater gardens, nightclubs, Singspiel halls, "Heuriger" wine taverns, etc.) promoted the Wiener Lied and several songs gained great popularity. After World War I, the Wiener Lied languished, lost its critical features and turned into a sentimental wine tavern song. After World War II the tradition was continued by such artists as H. Schmid ("Schmid-Hansl"). However, the Wiener Lied was revived around the middle of the 1970s owing to a new Wiener Lied movement led by artists including K. Hodina, R. Neuwirth, T. Mally and others.

Literature: L. Schmidt, Volksgesang und Volkslied, 1970; S. Lohr, Drum hab i Wean so gern, 1980.

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This contribution was taken from an Austrian Encyclopaedia "Österreich Lexikon" © 1995 by Verlagsgemeinschaft Österreich-Lexikon. Pictures and links (if applicable) have been removed. To view them click the link above to get to the Austrian version. That version is also updated more frequently.