The Austrian composer Hugo Wolf carried still further the expressive power of the German Lied. His later life was clouded by illness, depression and final insanity, after a period of intense activity as a composer.
Collections of songs by Wolf include the 53 Mörike songs of 1888, settings of Eichendorff, 51 Goethe songs completed in 1889, the Spanisches Liederbuch of the same year, and the two collections of the Italienisches Liederbuch, the first written in 1891 and the second in 1896. These, along with the many other songs written between 1888 and 1897, form a remarkable body of work in which the texts set were given prominence in performance and served as the real and acknowledged inspiration for the music.
Wolf wrote or started to write orchestral compositions, chamber music and works for piano, many of these in the earlier years of his career. The best-known instrumental work is his Italian Serenade of 1892, a movement for string quartet to which he planned to add further movements and make a suite for small orchestra. It was first performed in 1904.