According to Adorno, Heinrich Heine's true nature was not revealed in the music of those countless composers who set his lyrics to music, but only to those who did not set him to music: Gustav Mahler ("Die Wunde Heine", 1956).

5 Heine-Lieder combines five explicitly disparate types of poetry, which also include in almost chronological order all periods of Heine's lyrical production - from the "Buch der Lieder" to the "Romanzero".

While the composition is predominantly opposite to the texts with their often surprising conclusions, they now appear in a kind of double ironic refraction. The singing voice and the piano are no longer treated as "melody and accompaniment", but merge into each other in a "meta-instrument". Unexpected final designs try in a Heine-like way to illuminate the intended, subterraneous content.

The very fact that the world is so beautiful is shown in No. I in colors that are not bright at all, but rather painted in a dark, contradictory manner. In No. II the often called German Michel is not to be trusted - it is finally called after him. "Flattersinn und Lebensfreude" characterize a scherzo-like hurrying in No. III. The innocuous woodcut-like signs of No. IV distorted themselves at the end in a pain. Exceptional position of No. V: the attitudes of text (for the conditions of Heine unusually unrefracted) and found music coincide. The elegiac poem, also used as a funerary inscription in the Paris Cimetière de Montmartre, corresponds to a slow streaming, taking farewell.