Lied ( ; plural Lieder, ) is a German and Dutch word literally meaning "song". It usually describes the setting of romantic German poems to music, especially during the nineteenth century, beginning with Carl Loewe, Heinrich Marschner, and Franz Schubert. Among English speakers, "Lied" is often used interchangeably with "art song" to encompass works that the tradition has inspired in other languages. The poetry forming the basis for Lieder often centers upon pastoral themes, or themes of romantic love.
Typically, Lieder are arranged for a single singer and piano, the Lied with orchestral accompaniment being a later development. Some of the most famous examples of Lieder are Schubert's "Der Tod und das Mädchen" ("Death and the Maiden") and "Gretchen am Spinnrade". Sometimes Lieder are gathered in a Liederkreis or "song cycle"—a series of songs (generally three or more) tied by a single narrative or theme, such as Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise, or Robert Schumann's Frauenliebe und -leben and Dichterliebe. Schubert, Schumann and Johannes Brahms are most closely associated with this genre, mainly developed in the Romantic era.