FIVE SONGS (LIEDER), OP. 49
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.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG
Note: Links to English translations of the
texts are from Emily Ezust’s site at http://www.lieder.net.
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
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)
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
Am Sonntag Morgen (in original key, E minor)
1: Am Sonntag Morgen (in middle key,
1: Am Sonntag Morgen (in low key, B minor)
An ein Veilchen (in original key, E major)
2: An ein Veilchen (in middle key, D major)
2: An ein Veilchen (in low key, C major)
3: Sehnsucht (in original key, A-flat
3: Sehnsucht (in low key, F major)
4: Wiegenlied (in original [middle] key, E-flat major;
includes second verse on new music staves)
4: Wiegenlied (in high key, F major; includes second verse
on new music staves)
4: Wiegenlied (in low key, D-flat
major; includes second verse on new music staves)
Abenddämmerung (in original key, E major)
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).
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.
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
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).
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.
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
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
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
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
(The title Sehnsucht is also used for Op. 14, No. 8 and the quartet Op. 112, No. 1.)
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!
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
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,
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).
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.
Translation (Verse 1)
Translation (Verse 2--this translation follows Brahms’s alteration of the last two
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
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
0:59 [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
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).
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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