FIVE SONGS (LIEDER), OP. 49
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG 449 633-2]

Published 1868.

The concluding group of Brahms’s first “multi-opus” song publication happens to include the most famous and familiar of all his pieces.  Almost everybody recognizes the melody of the Lullaby (“Wiegenlied”), the fourth song of the set.  In fact, if somebody knows a single tune of Brahms, but no other, this, and not the “big tune” in the First Symphony’s finale (a distant second at best), is most likely it.  Arranged endlessly over the years in both vocal and instrumental versions, often with the elimination of the subtle and symbolic counter-melody in the accompaniment, the song may actually be a novelty in its original form.  Unusually, it carries a dedication within the opus, to Bertha Faber, a close friend and former romantic interest.  She and her husband remained trusted confidants, and the Lullaby was composed for their first child (although to make it universal, Brahms made sure it was appropriate for babies of either gender).   The counter-melody, disguised in syncopation, is a love song Brahms once heard Bertha sing.  The second verse, not part of the original Wunderhorn text, was added after the first publication, giving the song much-needed additional length.  The first three songs are also largely folk-based.  Like the Lullaby, all four of the remaining songs have interesting piano parts.  “Am Sonntag Morgen” is brief, popular, heartbreaking, and effective.  “An ein Veilchen,” to an excellent poem (actually an adaptation) by Hölty, makes a remarkable and rapid shift from delicate rapture to desolate grief.  The central “Sehnsucht” is evocative and virtuosic, if overwrought, and its effectiveness is diminished by an overuse of the top vocal pitch.  These first three songs all have brief changes of meter, an unusual connection.  The utterly profound closing song, retaining the 3/4 meter of the Lullaby, almost seems like an “adult” response to the cradle song.  Brahms followed the pattern of Op. 48 in closing a group of mostly folk-based songs with an extended and sophisticated setting of a text by Schack.  He would also use Schack as a capstone for Op. 58.  “Abenddämmerung” has one of the finest and most original of all his piano accompaniments to songs.  It perfectly captures the poem’s nostalgic essence.  The long song never really moves above a volume level of piano.

Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily Ezust's site at http://www.recmusic.org/lieder.  For the most part, the translations are line-by-line, except where the difference between German and English syntax requires slight alterations to the contents of certain lines.  The German texts (included here) are also visible in the translation links.

IMSLP WORK PAGE

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck--original keys; does not include the second verse of No. 4, but indicates a repetition of the first verse)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke--original keys; includes the second verse of No. 4 with repeat sign)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Edition Peters, edited by Max Friedländer):
No. 1: Am Sonntag Morgen (in original key, E minor)
No. 1: Am Sonntag Morgen (in middle key, C-sharp minor)
No. 1: Am Sonntag Morgen (in low key, B minor)
No. 2: An ein Veilchen (in original key, E major)
No. 2: An ein Veilchen (in middle key, D major)
No. 2: An ein Veilchen (in low key, C major)
No. 3: Sehnsucht (in original key, A-flat major)

No. 3: Sehnsucht (in low key, F major)
No. 4: Wiegenlied (in original [middle] key, E-flat major; includes second verse on new music staves)
No. 4: Wiegenlied (in high key, F major; includes second verse on new music staves)
No. 4: Wiegenlied (in low key, D-flat major; includes second verse on new music staves)
No. 5: Abenddämmerung (in original key, E major)
No. 5: Abenddämmerung (in low key, D major)


1. Am Sonntag Morgen (On Sunday Morning).  Text by Paul Heyse, after an Italian popular song (from the Italienisches Liederbuch).  Andante espressivo.  Through-composed binary form.  E MINOR, 2/4 time with one 3/4 measure (Middle key C-sharp minor, low key B minor).

German Text:
Am Sonntag Morgen, zierlich angetan,
Wohl weiß ich, wo du da bist hingegangen,
Und manche Leute waren, die dich sah’n,
Und kamen dann zu mir, dich zu verklagen.
Als sie mir’s sagten, hab’ ich laut gelacht,
Und in der Kammer dann geweint zur Nacht.
Als sie mir’s sagten, fing ich an zu singen,
Um einsam dann die Hände wund zu ringen.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1.  Lines 1-2.  The piano gives a very brief introduction of an accented octave, then the same together with the clashing notes a step below.  The vocal line has a halting long-short rhythm with rests in the middle of the words “Sonntag” and “Morgen.”  The piano also has a long-short rhythm in the left hand, but the right hand fills the gaps.  The piano figures are detached, harmonized (beginning in thirds), and hushed.  The first line ends with a leap and a smooth descent, which is echoed a step higher by the piano (over the continuing detached pattern).  The second line comes to a questioning close after an ascent in half-steps, and the piano rounds it off with a similar smooth descending line.
0:18 [m. 8]--Lines 3-4.  Line 3 is set to the same music as line 1.  Line 4 is set a third higher than its analogous counterpart, line 2, underscoring the troubling accusation.  The end of the line comes to a desolate full cadence.  At that point, the accompaniment makes a transition with smooth rising lines in the right hand.
0:31 [m. 14]--Part 2.  Lines 5-6.  Brahms marks the shift to the singer’s internal dialogue with an artful intensification.  The vocal line is marked animato.  The halting uncertainty is abandoned in favor of a soaring, anguished line 5 that reaches a high F-sharp over “dominant” harmony.  The piano changes to a rippling accompaniment with triplet rhythm in an internal voice, creating two-against-three tension with the singer and left hand.  At the high point, the left hand begins to play arpeggios in the triplet rhythm.  Line 6 settles to another chromatically-tinged close.  Here, the right hand harmonizes the voice in thirds, but the left hand remains in triplet rhythm, playing wide-ranging rising broken octaves, leaving out the first note of each triplet figure.  The bridge to the next line briefly returns to the detached accompaniment from Part 1.
0:43 [m. 19]--Lines 7-8.  Line 7 begins like line 5, but it leaps a step higher, reaching G over a striking harmonic detour through C major.  Line 8 corresponds to line 6, but it is greatly stretched out, soaring up to a lamenting high A on “Hände.”  This is prolonged by the insertion of a 3/4 measure at this climax.  The accompaniment follows the model of line 6, including the harmonization in thirds and the upward-leaping broken triplets, now including smaller intervals (fifths and sixths) as well as octaves.  The 3/4 measure also delays the last vocal cadence.
0:54 [m. 23]--Cadence and postlude.  The piano postlude overlaps with the final crying vocal cadence.  The right hand, still harmonized in thirds, echoes these last vocal phrases, while the left hand continues the broken triplet-rhythm leaps (now including various intervals).  A biting dissonance is introduced after the singer concludes.  The right hand gradually works its way downward and recedes.  The last cadences, the second an octave lower than the first, continue the quiet, but agitated motion in a middle voice under longer gestures.
1:15--END OF SONG [27 mm.]


2. An ein Veilchen (To a Violet).  Text by Ludwig Heinrich Christoph Hölty, after an Italian poem by Giovanni Battista Zappi.  Andante.  Sehr zart (Very tenderly).  Through-composed form with partial return.  E MAJOR, 6/8 time with three 9/8 measures (Middle key D major, low key C major).

German Text:
Birg, o Veilchen, in deinem blauen Kelche,
Birg die Tränen der Wehmut, bis mein Liebchen
Diese Quelle besucht! Entpflückt sie lächelnd
Dich dem Rasen, die Brust mit dir zu schmücken.
O dann schmiege dich ihr ans Herz, und sag ihr,
Daß die Tropfen in deinem blauen Kelche
Aus der Seele des treu’sten Jünglings flossen,
Der sein Leben verweinet, und den Tod wünscht.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--The piano begins the rippling accompaniment, whose figures gently tumble downward in the 6/8 meter over bass downbeats.  The voice enters in the third measure, singing the first line to a lilting melody that leaps up, then down, then back up, reaching a high point on “Kelche.”  The phrase continues with the first clause of the second line.  This descends toward the related minor key, C-sharp, but moves beyond that key, reaching a half-close in G-sharp major.  A brief piano echo, with harmonies above the rippling accompaniment, quickly moves back toward the home key.
0:20 [m. 12]--The singer settles back into the home key, completing the second line and, following the enjambment in the poem, flowing right into the third line up to the end of the exclamation.  This phrase descends toward a warm cadence.  The piano doubles the vocal line, adding harmonies of thirds and sixths over the continuation of the gently tumbling accompaniment.
0:27 [m. 16]--The cadence leads into two dolce bars of the rippling accompaniment.  The voice enters with the next phrase, which again follows the enjambment of the poem by completing the third line and beginning the fourth.  It is sung in two segments separated by a “bridging” measure in the piano.  The first of these, which completes the third line, makes a key shift to A minor.  The second segment, setting the first words of the fourth line, moves again, now to C major.  In another “bridging” measure, the piano immediately converts this to the preparatory “dominant” chord in F major.  The mood becomes breathless.
0:41 [m. 24]--With sudden buoyancy, the singer completes the fourth line, building rapidly and reaching high.  The piano accompaniment also builds up to forte.  The line closes on a joyous half-close in F major, a half-step above the home key.  After this climax, the piano rapidly diminishes in both volume and pitch with a trailing three-bar bridge.  The bass arrives on E, which for now supports a dissonant “diminished” chord that still pulls to F major.
0:51 [m. 30]--The fifth line is the basis for the entire middle section of the song.  The accompaniment pattern breaks, and at a very subdued level, the piano moves directly back home to E major.  A new accompaniment begins, with the right hand following the left in syncopated harmonies.  The left hand itself plays patterns of rising arpeggios and descending stepwise motion.  When the voice enters, it is extremely anxious, the anxiety reflected by a shifting meter.  The words “O dann schmiege dich ihr ans Herz” work upward in pitch and excitement, incorporating a 9/8 measure (m. 32) before another single 6/8 bar.
0:59 [m. 34]--With the excitement and anxiety rapidly building, the words are repeated (without the initial “O”) in two more 9/8 measures  The right hand piano chords become fuller, higher, and louder, and the left hand patterns begin to add harmony.  Finally, the words “dich ihr ans Herz” are given an additional repetition as the voice reaches its highest pitch and loudest volume.  The climax comes with the return to 6/8 (in m. 36) after the two 9/8 bars.  In that climactic 6/8 measure, the piano begins to oscillate with harmony on F-sharp minor, but does not make a complete motion away from the home key.
1:07 [m. 37]--The oscillating piano figures (still with the right hand following the left) continue as they had begun underneath the climax.  The last words of the fifth line, “und sag ihr,” are set over these figures, which diminish in volume and activity.  The voice sustains the words in long notes that sound like a sigh.  After one measure of accompaniment similar to the previous one under the climax, the next two measures greatly reduce the right hand motion.  The rapid-fire off-beat chords give way to two cadence gestures on the beats.  After the voice drops out, a bridge of another two measures reduces activity even more.  In it, the left hand drops out in the second half of the measure and is followed by an isolated right hand harmony.  The second measure is the highly anticipatory “dominant” chord, which prepares for the partial return.
1:18 [m. 42]--The sixth line is set to the same vocal melody as the first, which it parallels.  The accompaniment, however, follows the pattern of the previous music, with the right hand following the left on oscillating harmonies after initial bass notes.  The marking molto dolce suggests a more subdued mood.  The seventh line also closely follows the vocal melody from the first part of the second line, but a new leaping motion is added to the words “treusten Jünglings flossen.”  This accommodates the extra syllables, as the line is completed here.  The harmonic motion is as it was before, to the half-close in G-sharp major.  The corresponding piano echo incorporates both the new vocal line and the new accompaniment.
1:39 [m. 52]--The mood changes dramatically for the last line.  It begins on the same harmony and melodic note that would be expected from the previous pattern.  But the voice slows down for a long descending line.  The piano, meanwhile, abandons the right hand after-beats.  The arpeggios are thinned to octaves doubled between the hands.  The right hand does double the descending vocal line, harmonizing it in thirds.  The descent moves through “Der sein Leben verweinet.”  It breaks into two halves before the word “verweinet.”  On that word, the key is inflected to minor over “dominant” harmony.
1:51 [m. 57]--The rest of the last line is stretched out even more.  The words are set to long notes.  The first word “und” is held over the downbeat.  It then creeps up to “den Tod.”  At the mention of death (“Tod”), the harmony makes a striking motion to F major (the so-called “Neapolitan” key).  Then, as the words “den Tod” are repeated before the final “wünscht,” the direct shift back to E is equally arresting.   A similar detour had occurred at the climax of the first section and the beginning of the middle section.  The voice leaps up, holds “Tod” over the bar line, then leaps back down to the cadence.  Despite the change in mood, the harmony under the cadence is unambiguously major, which adds tenderness to the sadness.
2:09 [m. 63]--The postlude, following the arrival at the final “wünscht,” is extremely gentle.  The piano continues its arpeggios in octaves.  Above these, the opening melody is recalled in an almost transfigured way.  The right hand then plays descending chords over the continuing left hand arpeggios.  These break off, then the left hand provides a bass for the last chords.  The top note of the yearning final chord is the major third, G-sharp.
2:38--END OF SONG [69 mm.]


3. Sehnsucht (Yearning).  Text by Josef Wenzig, after a Bohemian (Czech) folk text.  Langsam (Slowly); Lebhaft (Lively).  Two-part through-composed form.  A-FLAT MAJOR, 3/4 time with four 4/4 measures (Low key F major).
(The title Sehnsucht is also used for Op. 14, No. 8 and the quartet Op. 112, No. 1.)

German Text:
Hinter jenen dichten Wäldern
Weilst du meine Süßgeliebte
Weit ach weit, weit ach weit!
Berstet ihr Felsen,
Ebnet euch Täler,
Daß ich ersehe,
Daß ich erspähe
Meine ferne, süße Maid!

English Translation

First Section--Langsam
0:00 [m. 1]--Line 1.  The quiet two-bar piano introduction sets up the accompaniment for this first section.  A low bass line with sinuous half-step motion underlies a right hand triplet rhythm in the tenor range.  The first note of each triplet is replaced by the bass note.  The figures and bass notes leap up an octave on each middle beat.  The voice enters in the third measure with a slow, mysterious arpeggio on “Hinter.”  This reaches up, then slowly leaps back down.  Another such pattern follows on “dichten,” but it turns to the minor key.  The accompaniment also changes here.  Three implied 2/4 measures are superimposed on two 3/4 measures, each with an octave leap up, but not back down.  The figures gradually move higher.
0:17 [m. 7]--Line 2.  The vocal line immediately moves back to major and takes a gentler, sweeter path, reaching to a high note on “meine,” then slowly working down.  The piano part changes again.  The triplet figures without the initial notes continue in the right hand, but the octave leaps are dispensed with in favor of a smoother, more continuous line.  The left hand also loses its regularity.  At the high vocal note, it leaps up and descends in thirds.  The last two syllables of the long word “Süßgeliebte” are set, after a leap, to a stretched-out descending half-step.  The right hand figures stall on the underlying harmony, and the left hand adds descending bass octaves after downbeat chords.
0:31 [m. 12]--Line 3.  The two invocations of “Weit, ach weit” are set to four 4/4 measures in a brief meter change.  This allows the notes to be lengthened and evened out.  The singer slowly skips down, then leaps up on the first invocation.  The accompaniment is similar to what has gone before, retaining the triplet figures without initial notes, but an upper line doubling the voice is added, and the left hand plays rolled harmonies and detached descending octave leaps in the bass.  The second invocation, beginning with a minor-key inflection, is more elaborate.  It quickly builds to a climax, adding shorter notes and an additional leap up to the already-established high note.  Rapidly receding, it leaps down to the leading tone in the “dominant” key (E-flat).  This leading tone is suspended on a fermata in voice and piano.
Second Section--Lebhaft
0:49 [m. 16]--Lines 4-5.  The expected motion to E-flat does not complete, and as the new section storms in, again in 3/4 but at a much faster speed, the home key is strongly asserted.  The voice plunges downward on both lines, leaping up between them.  The right hand still plays triplets, but they are now on feverishly repeated chords and they include the initial beat.  The piano left hand, in octaves, plays a bass line in contrary motion to the vocal line.  This bass line resembles the opening vocal gestures from the beginning of the slow first section.  It includes minor-key inflections.
0:55[m. 20]--Lines 6-7.  These lines are set to a narrowly rising, but intense vocal line at a much quieter volume.  The rapid right hand triplets continue, but a “sighing” vocal figure at the end of each line is doubled above them.  The bass becomes more settled, abandoning the rising figures.  There are brief suggestions of the “dominant” key.
1:01 [m. 24]--Line 8.  This final line is given an extended treatment.  The quiet volume level almost expresses a sense of wonderment at the vision of the “sweet maiden.”  The left hand now joins the right in the intense triplets on repeated chords, providing bass notes on the downbeats.  The rising line reaches higher, breathlessly repeating “meine ferne.”  Again, there is a rapid buildup and a motion toward the “dominant.”  The repetition leads once again to the high A-flat.  From there, the line broadly descends and the volume recedes as the text is completed with “süße Maid.”  Again, the motion to E-flat is thwarted by a re-assertion of the home key.  The line ends on a suspended “dominant” harmony, however.
1:09 [m. 30]--Lines 6-7 repeated.  These lines are stated again.  Line 6 is more breathless and rapid than before and leaps upward.  Line 7 now ecstatically builds and reaches up, again attaining the high A-flat.  The harmony makes a different motion here in the other direction, toward the “subdominant” key of D-flat.  The left hand settles again on bass notes, leaving the repeated triplet chords to the right.  The “sighing” vocal figure at the end of each line is again doubled by the right hand above the triplets.
1:15 [m. 34]--Line 8 repeated.  As at 1:01 [m. 24], the left hand joins the triplets and adds initial downbeat bass octaves.  The implied D-flat is re-interpreted as C-sharp, and the music makes a surprising motion to A major, a half-step above the home key.  There, the words “meine ferne” are sung breathlessly in the high register.  In contrast to the first statement, the word “meine” is added before “süße” rather than “ferne” again.  These words quickly shift the harmony back down to the home key.  The mood is increasingly excited.
1:21 [m. 38]--The whole line is now given in a joyous concluding statement.  The voice arches up to the final high A-flat on “süße.”  That word is given an additional repetition before finally arriving on “Maid.”  The vocal cadence is on the third of the chord (C).  Under this final statement, the accompaniment changes dramatically.  Both hands play broad arpeggios, but the right hand winds up and down in the continuing triplet rhythm.  The left hand slowly arches up and down, then punctuates the cadence with low octaves.
1:27 [m. 42]--With the cadence on “Maid,” the piano begins a brief, but boisterously fervent postlude.  The left hand plays broken octaves, and the right hand follows after the beat with gradually rising harmonies.  After two measures, the left hand plays chords as well, and the higher right hand chords that follow become thicker until both arrive at the emphatic final A-flat major chord.  The left hand leaps to a rolled chord.
1:41--END OF SONG [47 mm.]


4. Wiegenlied (Lullaby).  “To B.F. (Bertha Faber) in Vienna.”  Text of Verse 1 from the German folk collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn.  Text of Verse 2 by Georg Scherer.  Zart bewegt (With gentle motion).  Simple strophic form.  E-FLAT MAJOR, 3/4 time (High key F major, low key D-flat major).

German Text:
Guten Abend, gut Nacht,
Mit Rosen bedacht,
Mit Näglein besteckt,
Schlupf unter die Deck’:
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will,
Wirst du wieder geweckt.

Guten Abend, gut’ Nacht,
Von Englein bewacht.
Die zeigen im Traum
Dir Christkindleins Baum
Schlaf nun selig uns süß
Schau im Traum’s Paradies.

English Translation (Verse 1)
English Translation (Verse 2--this translation follows Brahms
s alteration of the last two lines)

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (Strophe) 1.  The accompaniment begins two bars before the voice enters.  Brahms uses the love song “Du meinst wohl, du glaubst wohl,” which he associated with Bertha Faber, as a subtly rocking counter-melody.  He syncopates it, so the music actually begins a half-beat before the bar.  At first, it is played in thirds.  The left hand downbeats remain anchored on the home keynote for the entire song, leaping up to widely sighing arpeggios.  The first two lines establish the familiar lullaby melody, which begins on an upbeat, and the harmony remains on E-flat.  The counter-melody expands beyond thirds as it reaches higher, along with the vocal melody.
0:13 [m. 7]--The second phrase, setting the next two lines, has a similar contour in both the vocal melody and the syncopated piano counter-melody, but the latter is not as anchored to harmonies in thirds.  The harmony is more centered on the “dominant” chord, but the bass downbeat stays on the low E-flat.  The vocal phrase gently rises up to the song’s highest pitch.
0:20 [m. 11]--Each of the two phrases that set the last two lines begins with a famous rising octave.  The high pitch is now approached by leap.  The accompaniment, meanwhile, retains its rocking syncopation, but here it begins higher and incorporates a new harmony that emphasizes the “subdominant” level.  As the phrase approaches its cadence, the right hand finally moves away from the syncopation for a measure of gently rocking thirds in the middle register.  The vocal melody of the first phrase ends with a very tender leap from a preparatory grace note to an incomplete close.
0:28 [m. 15]--The repetition of the last two lines is identical for the first two measures.  When the accompaniment abandons the syncopation, the rocking motion is changed to reach upward.  The vocal melody, meanwhile, adds an extremely affective turn figure as it descends to the final cadence.  At the end, the left hand, having never left its low E-flat downbeat, finally leaps up to a touching concluding chord.
0:38 [m. 1 (19)]--Stanza (Strophe) 2.  Brahms added this second verse after the first publication, having found Scherer’s addition to the Wunderhorn poem.  The first two lines are set as at the beginning, with the preparatory measures that open the love song counter-melody.
0:51 [m. 7 (25)]--Second phrase setting lines 3-4, as at 0:13.
0:59 [m. 11 (29)]--Third phrase setting lines 5-6, as at 0:20.  Brahms altered the last two lines of Scherer’s stanza because they did not fit the declamation and accentuation of the melody.
1:09 [m. 15 (33)]--Repetition of last two lines with final cadence, as at 0:28.
1:26--END OF SONG [18 (36) mm.]


5. Abenddämmerung (Twilight).  Text by Adolf Friedrich von Schack.  Ruhig (Peacefully).  Rondo form (ABACCA).  E MAJOR, 3/4 time (Low key D major).

German Text:
Sei willkommen, Zwielichtstunde!
Dich vor allen lieb’ ich längst,
Die du, lindernd jede Wunde,
Unsre Seele mild umfängst.

Hin durch deine Dämmerhelle,
In den Lüften, abendfeucht,
Schweben Bilder, die der grelle
Schein des lauten Tags gescheucht.

Träume und Erinnerungen
Nahen aus der Kinderzeit,
Flüstern mit den Geisterzungen
Von vergangner Seligkeit.

Und zu Jugendlust-Genossen
Kehren wir ins Vaterhaus;
Arme, die uns einst umschlossen,
Breiten neu sich nach uns aus.

Nach dem Trennungsschmerz, dem langen,
Dürfen wir noch einmal nun
Denen, die dahingegangen,
Am geliebten Herzen ruhn;

Und indes zum Augenlide
Sanft der Schlummer niederrint,
Sinkt auf uns ein sel’ger Friede
Aus dem Land, wo jene sind.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction.  The accompaniment to this song is extremely rich, and the introduction is unusually long.  The right hand, in the tenor register, sets up the dolce murmuring thirds that dominate the texture.  The left hand, meanwhile, begins a tolling “pedal” point on a low E under a slower-moving upper voice.  The harmony is highly chromatic and evocative.  The murmuring motion makes two brief pauses after short rising gestures.  Then it becomes more continuous, working upward and incorporating other harmonic intervals, mainly sixths.  Slowly moving back downward, it reaches its original level.  The left hand briefly moves away from the tolling low E, and its upper voice momentarily takes the faster throbbing motion.  The pedal E returns before the vocal entry, with a sharp dissonance in the upper left hand voice.
0:31 [m. 8]--Stanza 1 (A).  The vocal melody is characterized by gentle leaps and mild dissonances.  It begins on an upbeat with repeated notes.  The first two lines are set above an accompaniment that is essentially an expanded version of the introduction’s first three measures.  There is a strong syncopation across the measure on the first syllable of “Zwielichtstunde.”  Another tender syncopation occurs on “lieb’.”  The pedal E remains in force until the conclusion of the phrase on a half-close.
0:52 [m. 13]--The third and fourth lines continue the general character, but abandon the pedal E.  The accompaniment still resembles the next few measures of the introduction, but at the word “Seele,” after the vocal high point, there is a sudden change from the murmuring harmonies to a measure of arching arpeggios.  Under the last words, “mild umfängst,” the accompaniment is nearly identical to the penultimate measure of the introduction.  The voice reaches a full cadence, and as it does, the piano returns to the first measure of the introduction.
1:15 [m. 18]--The piano now diverges from the introduction for a brief interlude that serves to move the key to the “dominant” (B major).  The bass moves up chromatically (by half-step), and the right hand isolates the murmuring motion on the middle beat.  In the next measure, the murmuring motion in thirds slides upward, easing into the new key before the vocal entry for the second stanza.
1:28 [m. 21]--Stanza 2 (B).  The melody for this stanza is less chromatic and more narrow, remaining mostly at the high level of the initial upbeat.  Its sweetly nostalgic character is also less mysterious than the A melody.  The accompaniment for the first two lines changes from the murmuring motion to wide arpeggios.  These are passed from the left hand to the right hand, with the left hand overlapping on the next one.  While the vocal line begins in B major, the piano arpeggios hint at the minor version of the main key.  The arpeggios become shorter, one to a beat, in the last two measures.  These measures briefly touch on F-sharp major.
1:43 [m. 25]--For the stanza’s last two lines, the accompaniment returns to the murmuring motion, beginning at a higher level, melting into it from the preceding arpeggios.  The vocal melody is similar to that of the first two lines, but at the end, it moves downward before reaching a cadence.  The B major key is again colored by hints of E minor through the note G-natural.  The downward motion at the end is also reflected in the accompaniment. 
1:55 [m. 28]--At the cadence, another transitional interlude begins.  It is close in character to the introduction, with a brief “pedal point” on B.  The second half of the four-bar interlude subtly eases into music matching the last two measures of the introduction.  This creates a smooth transition into the next stanza, which returns to the music of stanza 1.
2:12 [m. 32]--Stanza 3 (A’).  The first two lines closely match the notes from stanza 1, and the accompaniment is the same, but the declamation is quite different.  Most notably, the upbeat is absent, and the first word “Träume” is on the high downbeat that had previously been approached by a leap.  This causes both prominent syncopations to be removed.  A downbeat comes on the second syllable of “Erinnerungen.”  Two dotted (long-short) rhythms take the place of the previous syncopation on “lieb’.”
2:30 [m. 37]--Other than an added dotted rhythm in the first measure after the upbeat, the third and fourth lines follow the pattern from stanza 1.  The measure of the cadence again matches the first measure of the introduction, but it continues the murmuring motion on the last beat rather than inserting the previous pause.  The continuing motion merges into the new interlude.
2:51 [m. 42]--The new interlude becomes very chromatic.  The murmuring thirds continue over a descending bass line.  After a measure, the right hand figures lose their continuous harmonies and expand into arpeggios in the third and last transitional measure.  These arpeggios descend in three-note groups, with four of these in the 3/4 measure.  This metric displacement will continue in the new section that follows.  The bass line again reaches a tolling pedal point on E, but now that note is the preparatory “dominant” of a new key, A major.  Brahms indicates the new key with a change to three sharps.
3:02 [m. 45]--Stanza 4 (C).  The verse begins on the upbeat of the last transitional measure, against the three-note arpeggios.  On the downbeat, the left hand enters, and both hands, in contrary motion, play the three-note arpeggios.  The left hand ascends from low bass notes in these three-note groups.  These groups, with four in each 3/4 measure, greatly disrupt the meter, but the vocal line remains firmly anchored in 3/4, creating an uneasy tension between piano and voice.  The vocal line itself is like a combination of the A and B melodies, with the leaping intervals of the former, but the sweeter nostalgic feel of the latter.  The A-major key remains in strong force, despite a hint at C-sharp major in the third line, and the verse closes on a full cadence.  The measure of the cadence quickly shifts to the minor.
3:30 [m. 53]--Stanza 5 (C’).  The first measure and a half are inflected to the minor key (A minor) to depict the “long pain of separation,” but the remainder of the stanza is musically identical to stanza 4 in both the voice and the accompaniment.  Brahms does, however, indicate a gradual acceleration over the course of the verse, taking care to indicate that this does not mean an increase in volume.  The increasingly breathless pace remains at the subdued level that has dominated the whole song.
3:54 [m. 60]--The three-note arpeggios continue to descend in the right hand for this interlude, which moves back to the home key (E major).  The left hand, however, abandons its rising three-note groups in favor of slow syncopated lines that help ease back into the normal metric flow.  The right hand arpeggios sink down to the lower range.  After two measures, the right hand plays desolate sighing chords and the left hand establishes the tolling motion again as the music slows, settling back into the home key for the final stanza.
4:09 [m. 64]--Stanza 6 (A”).  The upbeat to the familiar A melody enters.  The last verse nearly follows the first exactly, adding only a long-short rhythm in the first measure.  The two syncopations (now on “Augenlide” and “niederrinnt”) are preserved.
4:29 [m. 69]--The last two lines of the verse are musically equivalent to those from the third verse (A’), as at 2:30 [m. 37]. 
4:47 [m. 73]--At the cadence, the piano diverges from the previous A verses.  Instead of returning to the first measure of the introduction, the murmuring thirds continue downward to begin a brief postlude.  The throbbing pedal point on E is established for these last measures.  After a measure of downward murmuring, the right hand breaks into an ascending arpeggio leading up to the ethereal final chord.
5:10--END OF SONG [75 mm.]
END OF SET


BRAHMS LISTENING GUIDES HOME