Who invented the song cycle? Must be the Dutch

Who invented the song cycle? Must be the Dutch


norman lebrecht

March 07, 2020

The composer John Borstlap spotted this sign on a cycle lane in Amsterdam.

It says (in Dutch) that cyclists are permitted to sing along this route.

In Holland, you need permission.



  • Costa Pilavachi says:

    You gotta love the Dutch. Near the opera house in Amsterdam there is a square called Bianca Castafioreplein. It is named after a character in the Tintin books that almost every European child knows, the corpulent, triple-chinned operatic soprano whose piercing soprano voice shatters crystal glasses….in any other city, the square would be named after Rossini or Verdi or maybe even Wagner….but not in Amsterdam, where even the politicians have a sense of humour…

  • Steven Holloway says:

    In England, a cyclist needs permission to sing also — in hospital after getting mown down by a motorist.

  • Marc Stotijn says:

    The “inventor”: https://youtu.be/FkDa7Rsihgw

  • Stephen Owades says:


  • Mike Gibb says:

    Too small! I need either new glasses or a bigger picture

  • Dave T says:

    Why are collections of pieces– Beethoven’s quartets, his nine symphonies, Winterreise, etc– called ‘cycles’? I never understood that. Cycles, by definition, recur, and when the end is reached it reverts to the beginning. While Beethoven gets plenty of exposure, his works don’t recur, in that an ensemble or artist starts playing them all over again and again and again (though sometimes it may feel that way).

    • John Borstlap says:

      Performances or recordings of ‘cycles’ are meant to provide the illusion that the listener has not missed-out of something. Underneath the need to have a ‘complete’ collection, or to attend complete cycles of symphonies, sonatas, etc. etc., simmers the anxiety that one could be asked, at parties, après-ski’s and family gatherings, to know this or that piece and to have to admit to a grave gap in one’s musical erudition.

    • Ron Swanson says:

      A cycle can also be a group of creative works dealing the with the same subject. Eg. The Arthurian Cycle.

  • Bart says:

    Wow. The Song Cycle Lane has been there from November 2013: