SEVEN SONGS (LIEDER), OP. 95
Between two groups of mostly
dark, profound, or fervently romantic songs, generally of a
heavier nature, this collection of shorter, mostly lighter folk
or folk-like settings was brought together. It is heavy on
the female perspective (like Op. 69), explicitly so in four of the
seven. Over the first five of the group, Brahms frames
three settings of the dramatist Friedrich Halm with two Serbian
translations by Kapper. He had set Halm in two songs from
including the unusually brief one that ended that group.
The most notable previous song with a Kapper Serbian text was
the dramatic “Mädchenfluch,” Op. 69, No. 9. Another appears as
the first “Mädchenlied,” Op. 85, No. 3 (the second song with
that title, coincidentally No. 6 in this group, is not from
Kapper), and one of his Czech translations appears as Op. 85, No.
4. The “Mädchenlied” here is by Heyse, from an Italian
source (the third “Mädchenlied” in Op. 107 is also from Heyse). He
closes the group with a brief but bitter text from the
once-ubiquitous Daumer, whom he had not set in a solo song since
Op. 59, No.
6. No. 1, “Das Mädchen,” is distinguished by its
alternating meters and minor-major progression with increasing
tempo. This song was published in an a cappella
choral version with soprano soloist as Op. 93a, No.
2. The choral version is a bit tighter at the end, with
six fewer measures, and it is likely that this version for solo
voice and piano is earlier. No. 2, the first Halm setting,
is light and delicate, with fluttering piano figures suggesting
the flight of thoughts to the beloved. No. 3 is an
interesting case of Brahms substantially changing his mind about
something after publication. The breathless song, whose
persistent minor-key intrusions never overthrow the major mode,
originally shifted its accompaniment to a clashing metric
orientation a little more than halfway through, but Brahms
decided this effect was better throughout the whole song.
Both versions are readily available, but the revision is
preferred. The third Halm song is bright and ingratiating,
a simple strophic construction with hidden compositional
subtleties. The second Kapper translation again progresses
from a minor first half to a major second half in a faster
tempo, with contrasting but parallel text. The Heyse
“Mädchenlied” is a strophic setting with small but significant
alterations in the second verse. The original text
included two introductory verses placing the girl’s song in
context, but Brahms wisely dropped them. The closing
Daumer setting is probably the best-known song of the set.
Its surprisingly bitter mood, indicting ingratitude from a
seemingly unrequited love, contrasts sharply with the rest of
the group. Despite its emotional effectiveness, the song
has been criticized for its sometimes-awkward declamation and
accentuation, and for running together the last three lines
(which, in fairness, are poetically enjambed). In fact,
Brahms does mark the line breaks in subtle ways, not least the
sudden return of the opening music right as the last line is
repeated, a moment that still retains the “enjambment”
effect. The set has an effective internal unity, including
a logical key progression (not strictly maintained in the lower
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone (Nos. 2, 3, 7); Jessye
Norman, soprano; Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG 449 633-2]
Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily
Ezust’s site at http://www.lieder.net.
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 and lower keys [Nos. 1-4 “low”, Nos. 5-6 “middle”];
includes only first version of No. 3)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From
Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke--original keys;
includes both versions of No. 3)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Edition Peters, edited by Max
No. 1: Das Mädchen (in original
key, B minor/major)
1: Das Mädchen (in low key, G minor/major)
No. 2: Bei dir sind meine Gedanken
(in original key, A major)
2: Bei dir sind meine Gedanken (in middle key, G major)
2: Bei dir sind meine Gedanken (in low key, F major)
No. 3: Beim Abschied (in original
key, D major; second version)
3: Beim Abschied (in low key, B-flat major; second
No. 4: Der Jäger (in original key,
4: Der Jäger (in middle key, E major)
4: Der Jäger (in low key, D major)
No. 5: Vorschneller Schwur (in
original key, D minor/major)
5: Vorschneller Schwur (in low key, B-flat minor/major)
No. 6: Mädchenlied (in original
key, F major)
6: Mädchenlied (in middle key, D-flat major)
6: Mädchenlied (in low key, C major)
No. 7: Schön war, das ich dir
weihte (in original key, F minor)
7: Schön war, das ich dir weihte (in middle key, D minor)
7: Schön war, das ich dir weihte (in low key, C-sharp
1. Das Mädchen (The Maiden). Text by
Siegfried Kapper, after a Serbian folk poem. Munter, mit
freiem Vortrag (Lively, with free presentation). Two-part
varied strophic form, with introduction. B MINOR/MAJOR,
3/4+4/4 time, usually arranged in groups of seven beats, with a
climactic passage in straight 2/4 (Low key G minor/major).
(Note: Op. 93a,
No. 2 is a version of this song for mixed chorus with soprano
Stand das Mädchen, stand am Bergesabhang,
Widerschien der Berg von ihrem Antlitz,
Und das Mädchen sprach zu ihrem Antlitz:
“Wahrlich, Antlitz, o du meine Sorge,
Wenn ich wüßte, du mein weißes Antlitz,
Daß dereinst ein Alter dich wird küssen,
Ging hinaus ich zu den grünen Bergen,
Pflückte allen Wermut in den Bergen,
Preßte bitt’res Wasser aus dem Wermut,
Wüsche dich, o Antlitz, mit dem Wasser,
Daß du bitter, wenn dich küßt der Alte!
Wüßt’ ich aber, du mein weißes Antlitz,
Daß dereinst ein Junger dich wird küssen,
Ging hinaus ich in den grünen Garten,
Pflückte alle Rosen in dem Garten,
Preßte duftend Wasser aus den Rosen,
Wüsche dich, o Antlitz, mit dem Wasser,
Daß du duftest, wenn dich küßt der Junge!”
The 3+4 meter is typical of Serbian folk poetry.
0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction. Before the two contrasting
and parallel strophes, the protagonist is introduced in a passage
of four lines. The singer is accompanied by block harmonies
on the piano and presents the lines in regular mixed meter, one
3/4 and one 4/4 bar per line in the same rhythm. The first
three lines are in a free rising sequence. Each measure of
the first two has a prominent upward leap, and the 4/4 bars begin
with a long-short rhythm. The third line introduces off-beat
chords in the piano’s right hand, but only in the 4/4 bars, and a
more descending shape. The fourth line is nearly identical
to the third. The passage is in B minor, ending on that
key’s “dominant” chord. The music slows and quiets somewhat
in the last line.
0:22 [m. 9]--Strophe 1, lines 1-2. The maiden’s
speech starts in the last line of the introduction, but the
parallelism between the two main strophes begins here. The
piano plays hushed introductory chords in the familiar 3/4 rhythm,
and the singer responds with short yearning figures, breaking up
line 1 (in the choral version, the piano chords are sung by the
ensemble and the responses by a soprano soloist). Here there
are three 3/4 bars followed by three 4/4 bars rather than the
previous alternation, the first 4/4 bar surprisingly completing
line 1. A third call and response sets line 2 in the jaunty
4/4 rhythm and builds. That line is then repeated in a
forceful descent, doubled in piano octaves with one meter
alternation, leading to a pause.
0:45 [m. 17]--Strophe 1, lines 3-7. Back in the
regular 3/4+4/4 alternation, the singer presents the next four
lines (3-6) in arching figures over mostly slow-moving piano
chords and bass notes. While remaining basically at the same
pitch level, the soloist’s statements intensify with each
succeeding line. The piano becomes slightly more active
under lines 5-6, and the vocal line is slightly inflected toward
the major key. The seventh line is another forceful descent,
this time with the piano in full harmony, strongly reasserting the
minor key. This clinching line is sung twice, but the singer
omits “daß du” the second time, leaving the melody to the
piano. This leads to a strong B-minor cadence and another
1:15 [m. 29]--Strophe 2, lines 1-2. A very effective
shift to the major key heralds the contrasting and parallel second
strophe. The first two lines, other than being in major and
dolce, are very similar to those of the first strophe and
are in the same metrical layout, with the singer responding to the
piano three times. This time, however, the descending
repetition of line 2 is carried by the singer against decorative
rising piano arpeggios over colorful harmonies (the second a
“diminished seventh”), and it slows and quiets dramatically in a
marked contrast to the previous forceful descent.
1:39 [m. 37]--Strophe 2, lines 3-6. In a larger
departure from the first strophe, Brahms alters tempo and meter,
marking the next passage “Animato grazioso.” The meter
shifts to straight 2/4 for these lines, which are sung joyously in
arching figures, over piano gestures that place off-beat harmonies
in the right hand in alternation with punctuating bass
notes. Each line is given six measures in a steady
buildup. There is a difference from the choral version here,
where each line (except the sixth) was only four measures and the
buildup more intense. The text of each line is stretched out
at the end, the last more so, and the two “extra” bars separate
and extend the lines with gentle piano arpeggios, the hands in
2:05 [m. 61]--Strophe 2, line 7. Brahms now marks the
music “Lebhaft” (“Lively”) for the final line. It is
essentially a major-key version of the twofold statement of this
line in the first strophe (mm. 25-28). In addition to the
major key, the faster tempo creates a contrast. At the end
of the two 3/4+4/4 alterations, more dotted (long-short) rhythms
are added in the voice, along with new off-beat chords in the
right hand, before the final two-bar extension (both 4/4) and
cadence, the singer soaring to a long high note. The piano
punctuates the cadence with two outward-moving chords, a strong
conclusion after the steady buildup.
2:23--END OF SONG [66 mm.]
2. Bei dir sind meine Gedanken (My Thoughts Are with
You). Text by Friedrich Halm. Schnell und
Heimlich (Fast and secretive). Simple strophic form. A
MAJOR, 3/8 time (Middle key G major, low key F major).
Bei dir sind meine Gedanken
Und flattern, flattern um dich her;
sie sagen, sie hätten Heimweh,
Hier litt' es sie nicht mehr.
Bei dir sind meine Gedanken
Und wollen von dir, von dir nicht fort;
sie sagen, das wär' auf Erden
Der allerschönste Ort.
Sie sagen, unlösbar hielte
Dein Zauber sie festgebannt;
sie hätten an deinen Blicken
Die Flügel sich verbrannt.
0:00 [m. 1]--The piano is marked sotto voce for the
six-measure introduction. In each measure, a bass note A is
followed by rippling figures passed from the right to the left
hand. In each hand, these figures leap up and back
down. In the right hand, they leap up again to a note held
over the bar line. In the left, they jump down to the next
downbeat low A. The right hand steadily works down, then
jumps up and holds in the last two measures. The left hand
is more static with the repeated A, but the leaping figures move
up and down.
0:06 [m. 7]--Stanza (strophe) 1, lines 1-2. The voice
enters on an upbeat, gently leaping to the downbeat and then
sweeping down and back up. The second line uses the
repetition of “flattern” on similar long-short downward-arching
figures to move toward the “dominant” harmony, where the line
settles. The figuration in the accompaniment is like the
introduction, and the bass remains anchored on the low A until the
sixth measure under the second “flattern,” after which it moves as
the harmony shifts. There is a one-measure piano extension
after the two vocal lines with the bass note on the “dominant” E.
0:15 [m. 16]--Stanza (strophe) 1, lines 3-4. Line 3
begins on an upbeat, then shifts away from the E-major
harmony. A dramatic pause is inserted after “sie sagen,” At
this point, the harmony makes a dramatic motion toward the distant
C major. The completion of the line on the strophe’s only forte
lingers on high notes as harmonies and chords are added to the
piano’s rippling figures in the right hand. The left hand in
the piano suddenly abandons its leaping figures in favor of more
solid harmonies. Line 4 begins on the upbeat of the fifth
measure, working up, diminishing, and slowing. The melody
and harmony are highly chromatic, and another shift transforms C
major into a “dominant” leading to F major in a piano bridge.
0:24 [m. 25]--Stanza (strophe) 1, line 4 repeated.
The rippling figures now also cease in the right hand. The
singer repeats the line with long-held notes on “litt” and “sie,”
slowly arching up and back down over the continuing ritardando.
The slow dolce piano harmonies magically shift the music
back to the home key, where the voice reaches its cadence, merging
with the return of the introduction.
0:32 [m. 29]--The introduction is restated, beginning with
the cadence in m. 29. The four measures from m. 29 to m. 32
(except the vocal cadence) match mm. 1-4. A repeat sign
after m. 32 leads back to m. 5.
0:39 [m. 7]--Stanza (strophe) 2, lines 1-2. The
similar sentiment of each verse, with a fanciful subjunctive in
the last two lines, makes the strophic form ideal. Here,
line 2 is one syllable longer than in stanza 1 and the repetition
(of “von dir”) is later in the line. The “extra” syllable is
placed on the low note of the first downward arching figure
(previously joined on the first syllable of “flattern” to the
initial high note). The repetitions of “von dir” are
naturally and easily pushed forward in the musical line.
0:47 [m. 16]--Stanza (strophe) 2, lines 3-4. The
dramatic pause is placed after “sie sagen,” as in stanza 1.
The remainder of the lines follows the patterns from stanza 1,
with the diminishing and slowing at the end.
0:57 [m. 25]--Stanza (strophe) 2, line 4 repeated.
The long-held notes are on the first and third syllables of
“allerschönste.” The cadence again merges with the return of
1:05 [m. 29]--The introduction/interlude is again
restated. Since stanza 3 is written out, the repeat sign
does not apply, and mm. 33-34 correspond to mm. 5-6.
1:10 [m. 35]--Stanza (strophe) 3, lines 1-2. A couple
of changes in declamation here warrant the music being newly
written out. The long-short rhythm previously used for
“meine” is straightened out for the word “unlösbar” in line
1. Line 2 is now given no text repetition and is one
syllable shorter than in stanza 1 and two shorter than in stanza
2. The first downward arching figure is set as in stanza 2,
with a syllable on the low note. The second one is now
replaced by a long-held note, most fortuitously on the word
“fest,” referring to thoughts being held fast by the beloved’s
magic. The note is held over a bar line, and the next note
leading to the completion of the phrase is shortened by half and
1:20 [m. 44]--Stanza (strophe) 3, lines 3-4. The
dramatic pause is after “sie hätten.” The lines then follow
the patterns of the first two stanzas, diminishing and slowing as
before. The piano “bridge” is changed, the right hand
oriented differently in a lower octave and the left hand shifting
its rhythm backward.
1:29 [m.53]--Stanza (strophe) 3, line 4 repeated. The
long-held notes are on the first syllable of “Flügel” and on
“sich.” The piano harmonies are set lower and oriented
differently. The cadence merges into the fourth statement of
the introduction music, now a postlude.
1:37 [m. 57]--The postlude corresponds to the
introduction/interludes, but its first measure is changed,
smoothly working back up to the higher octave from the end of the
strophe. The third and fourth measures are also altered to
match the new pattern, beginning lower and reaching up. The
last two measures are unchanged. The music breaks off where
the voice had entered, and two gentle rolled chords, the second
one held, close off the song.
1:54--END OF SONG [65 mm.]
3. Beim Abschied (At Parting). Text by
Friedrich Halm. Sehr lebhaft und ungedulgig (Very rapidly
and impatiently). Short ternary form. D MAJOR, 3/8
time [voice] and 2/4 time [piano, except five introductory
measures in 3/8] (Low key B-flat major). In first version,
2/4 time in piano begins at m. 41.
Ich müh’ mich ab und kann’s nicht verschmerzen
Und kann’s nicht verwinden in meinem Herzen,
Daß ich den und jenen soll sehen,
Im Kreis um mich herum sich drehen,
Der mich nicht machte froh noch trübe,
Ob er nun ging’ oder bliebe,
Und nur die Eine soll von mir wandern,
Für die ich ertragen all die andern.
The second version is preferred and used for this guide.
0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction. The piano breathlessly
plays the five-measure lead-in, notated in the 3/8 used by the
voice. Right-hand chords work up in long-short motion
against broken octaves in the left hand. These are arrested
in the fourth measure before resolving to the “dominant” harmony
on a fermata in the fifth bar. The B-flat (lowered
sixth degree), borrowed from the minor and pervasive throughout
the song, appears before the resolution. The volume becomes
quiet for the vocal entry, but the mood remains agitated.
0:05 [m. 6]--Lines 1-4 (A). The voice in 3/8
clashes with the piano in 2/4. The piano’s syncopations,
with harmonies beginning off the beat in the right hand against
irregular broken octaves in the left, were originally in regular
3/8 motion, only changing to the clashing 2/4 later in the song,
but Brahms changed this after the first publication, preferring
the agitated conflict throughout. The first line works down
using long-short motion, then speeds up and slows down, creating a
five-measure unit. The second line begins with the faster
motion, introducing the rogue B-flat borrowed from the minor,
already heard in the piano. It slows at the end, creating
another five-bar unit. Lines 3-4 are the same as lines 2-3
without the initial upbeat and with slightly different declamation
in line 4. The piano is slightly changed to lead into line
0:18 [m. 26]--Lines 5-6 (B). These lines are
new. Line 5 has upward chromatic motion, slowing at the end
to yet another five-measure phrase. It ends on the
“dominant,” as had lines 2 and 4. Line 6 moves down
directly, pauses, and adds two more downward motions.
Harmonically, it shifts toward the dominant’s “relative” F-sharp
minor. Line 6 is immediately repeated with more downward
figures, this time contracted to four measures with the piano
bridging to the return of A in the fifth. The line
ends in F-sharp minor. The piano figuration remains
constant, the left-hand broken octaves alternating direction
0:27 [m. 41]--Lines 7-8 (A’). The lines are
initially set to the same music used for lines 1-2 and 3-4,
beginning with a slight accent to mark the return. Brahms
initially started the 2/4 in the accompaniment here, creating a
contrast, but decided it was more effective to use it
throughout. Line 7 is then repeated, slowed down and
stretched out to seven measures and ending on a fermata.
Brahms also marks a ritardando here to further emphasize
the slowing. The piano harmonies also slow down but retain
the element of syncopation stretched out over two-bar units after
the first measure. The borrowed B-flat, not previously used
in the voice for this phrase, now appears in the closing descent.
0:41 [m. 58]--The repetition of line 8 returns to the main
tempo and rapidly builds to forte. The piano
introduces pungent “diminished seventh” harmonies, but the “rogue”
B-flat is absent from the vocal line and the piano, resulting in a
brighter sound with the crescendo. The last word
“Andern” reaches the song’s highest pitch and is sustained,
lengthening the phrase to six measures in an exuberant but
agitated cadence, under which the piano syncopations briefly
straighten out with ringing harmonies.
0:44 [m. 63]--A piano postlude begins with the vocal
cadence, using the established syncopated and chromatic motion,
referring to the opening vocal melody. The B-flat is present
in the third measure (and heard as an A-sharp “leading note” in
the first two), showing that the minor-key tinge has not been
entirely banished. After these measures, the syncopation
ceases for the emphatically leaping final chords.
0:53--END OF SONG [68 mm.]
4. Der Jäger (The Hunter). Text by Friedrich
Halm. Lebhaft (Lively, fast). Simple strophic
form. F MAJOR, 3/4 time (Middle key E major, low key D
(The title Der Jäger is also used for the fourth of the
choral Marienlieder, Op. 22.)
Mein Lieb ist ein Jäger,
und grün ist sein Kleid,
Und blau ist sein Auge,
nur sein Herz ist zu weit.
Mein Lieb ist ein Jäger,
trifft immer ins Ziel,
Und Mädchen berückt er,
so viel er nur will.
Mein Lieb ist ein Jäger,
kennt Wege und Spur,
Zu mir aber kommt er
durch die Kirchtüre nur!
English Translation (stanzas
condensed to two lines each)
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1,
introduction. The forte horn call-like figures begin
in unison on an upbeat, then gradually add voices and harmonies
over three one-measure statements. The third statement
expands toward a full cadence in the fourth measure with full
harmony over leaping bass octaves.
0:05 [m. 5]--Stanza (strophe) 1, lines 1-2. The voice
begins on the upbeat without accompaniment, leaping
joyously. The piano enters on the next upbeat as the voice
rises to a full-measure high tonic note on the first syllable of
“Jäger,” concluding the word with a downward octave leap.
The sustained note stretches the phrase to three measures.
The harmony under this strongly emphasizes the “subdominant”
B-flat, the right hand adding lower “pedal” notes on F after the
beats. The second line is a quieter two-bar unit evoking the
introduction. The lower after-beat notes in the piano are
more active, and there is a prominent chromatic half-step motion
in the harmony. The piano repeats its line 2 music without
0:13 [m. 12]--Stanza (strophe) 1, lines 3-4. Line 3
has “horn call” upbeats like the introduction, but they are spaced
two beats apart, creating two-beat units across the two 3/4
measures (a so-called “hemiola”). The down-up motion
supports this cross-rhythm. The piano also follows the
“hemiola,” but with up-down motion opposite in direction from the
voice. Its leggiero two-note harmonies in the right
hand are followed by lower after-beats on C in the right and left
hands, the latter marked staccato. The volume builds
for the last line, which shoots up to high F. The piano
right hand has after-beat chords against up-down motion in the low
bass. The line is repeated to new music that settles
down. A gentle grace note precedes the cadence.
0:20 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 2, introduction. The
repeat sign leads back from m. 17, whose last beat becomes the
introduction’s opening upbeat.
0:25 [m. 5]--Stanza (strophe) 2, lines 1-2. Set as in
stanza 1 at 0:05. The first line is identical in all verses,
so the word “Jäger” is always on the sustained full-measure high
0:33 [m. 12]--Stanza (strophe) 2, lines 3-4. Set as
in stanza 1 at 0:13. At the upbeat to line 4 and its repetition,
the word “so” is placed under two notes that had been used for the
two words “nur sein.”
0:40 [m. 18]--Stanza (strophe) 3, introduction. This
stanza is printed separately after the repeat sign in all
editions, though it is musically identical, probably to facilitate
the repetition of the introduction as a postlude. The
introduction here is played as before the previous two verses.
0:44 [m. 22]--Stanza (strophe) 3, lines 1-2. Set as
in stanzas 1-2 at 0:05 and 0:25 [m. 5].
0:53 [m. 29]--Stanza (strophe) 3, lines 3-4. Set as
in stanzas 1-2 at 0:13 and 0:33 [m. 12]. There are again two
words (“durch die”) on the upbeat to line 4 and its repetition.
1:00 [m. 35]--The introduction is now given a fourth time
as a postlude to close off the song.
1:10--END OF SONG [38 mm.]
5. Vorschneller Schwur (Hasty Oath). Text by
Siegfried Kapper, after a Serbian folk poem.
Allegretto. Angemessen frei vorzutragen (Presented rather
freely) -- Animato ma grazioso. Anmutig belebt (Gracefully
animated). Binary form with strophic elements. D
MINOR/MAJOR, 2/4 time (Low key B-flat minor/major).
Schwor ein junges Mädchen:
Blumen nie zu tragen,
Niemals Wein zu trinken,
Knaben nie zu küssen.
Gestern schwor das Mädchen -
Heute schon bereut es:
“Wenn ich Blume trüge,
Wär’ ich doch noch schöner!
Wenn ich Rotwein tränke,
Wär’ ich doch noch froher!
Wenn den Liebsten küßte,
Wär’ mich doch noch wohler!”
0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1. Allegretto (Angemessen frei
vorzutragen), D minor. The structure includes repetitions of
the second and third lines to create an eight-line section with
four eight-measure phrases. All four phrases begin with the
same rising third in the voice and piano, and the first three all
follow this with a drop of a sixth. There is no
introduction. After line 1 works its way down, line 2 rises
toward a distinctive falling triplet figure on “zu” before an
incomplete close on the “dominant” harmony. The piano is
discrete and unobtrusive, including weak beat harmonies under the
first line and smooth chords under the second.
0:13 [m. 9]--The repetition of line 2 and the first
statement of line 3 are set to an extremely similar phrase, but
with subtle chromatic alterations that point more conclusively
toward the “dominant” harmonies on A minor or A major. This
is most evident at the end of the phrase, where the closing
downward leap from the first phrase is changed to a more complete
arrival on the A-major harmony.
0:26 [m. 17]--The third phrase introduces more
changes. The repetition of line 3 changes the motion of the
long-short notes to a more upward-reaching arch. The piano
harmonies here make a strong motion toward B-flat major. The
only statement of line 4 begins higher, but it includes the same
falling triplet on “zu” as the first two phrases. The
emphasis given to this line points to this text as the turning
point for the maiden’s regret of her oath. The harmony moves
back to D for a full cadence, the piano bass reaching low. A
fermata over the bar line indicates a pause before the
transitional fourth phrase.
0:40 [m. 25]--The setting of lines 5-6 is transitional, but
it still begins with the same rising third. The triplet
figure is not used, however. Line 5 slows down to another
arrival on the “dominant” and includes mezza voce
right-hand piano harmonies after the beat. Line 6 is
parallel to line 5 in its structure and direction, but now the
after-beat element is in the bass, a reiteration of the “dominant”
note A. At the end of the line, there is a shift toward the
major in preparation for Part 2. The motion slows even more,
and after the singer completes the line expectantly, the piano
confirms D major in a two-bar extension as the syncopated
after-beat bass notes move down to D.
1:01 [m. 35]--Part 2. Animato ma grazioso (Anmutig
belebt), D major. Here there are no repetitions of
individual lines across different phrases as in Part 1, but the
final couplet of lines 11-12 is repeated to create another
eight-line section of four phrases. Again, they begin with
the rising third, but it is now major. Line 7 soars up in a
wider arching motion. The fuller piano now includes
after-beat harmonies that create a faster, more propulsive motion
than the off-beat harmonies in Part 1. Line 8 is a major
version of line 2, and includes the distinctive falling triplet,
now on the word “noch.” The phrase ends on the “dominant.”
1:10 [m. 43]--The second phrase setting lines 9-10 is again
extremely similar to the first, as it was in Part 1, and again
there is a stronger and more complete motion to the “dominant”
A-major harmony. The after-beat harmonies and more
propulsive motion continue in the piano.
1:20 [m. 51]--The final two lines are marked crescendo
ed animato, again emphasizing the kiss as the primary
motivation for regretting (or renouncing) the oath. After
the initial rising third, the voice soars to its highest pitch (a
high A) in a rising octave. This line (line 11) again moves
very strongly toward the “dominant,” almost creating a full
modulation to A major. The final line shifts the falling
triplet on “noch” up a third and stretches out the word “wohler”
in a wide arching motion that extends the phrase by a measure with
an incomplete cadence on D major. This extension merges with
the first measure of the final phrase that repeats this text (a
so-called “elision”), with the piano alone taking the initial
1:32 [m. 60]--The singer has the same notes for the
repetition of line 11, but because the piano took the first two
notes on the “elision,” the voice begins with the rising octave
and shortens the word “Liebsten” from two measures to one.
The piano right hand moves to a higher octave. The
repetition of line 12 is also almost the same up to the falling
triplet. The left hand also moves up an octave here from the
first statement. After the triplet, the voice soars a third
time to the high note (each iteration of which is a half-beat
longer) on the stretched-out statement of “wohler,” reaching a
full D-major cadence on the extension.
1:41 [m. 67]--Coinciding with the vocal cadence, the piano
has a short, exuberant postlude that also begins with the
ubiquitous rising third. There then follow a cadential
rising fourth (A-D) and the rising third again an octave lower,
all with a leaping left hand and the continuing after-beat
harmonies. The postlude closes with a low bass octave and a
higher held D-major chord.
1:53--END OF SONG [70 mm.]
6. Mädchenlied (Girl’s Song). Text by
Paul Heyse, after an Italian source. Behaglich
(Comfortably). Strophic form. F MAJOR, 3/4 time
(Middle key D-flat major, low key C major).
(The title Mädchenlied is also used for Op. 85, No. 3 and
Op. 107, No. 5.)
(The original poem includes two stanzas introducing the girl’s
song, not set by Brahms)
Am jüngsten Tag ich aufersteh’
Und gleich nach meinem Liebsten seh’,
und wenn ich ihn nicht finden kann,
leg’ wieder mich zum Schlafen dann.
"O Herzeleid, du Ewigkeit!
Selbander nur ist Seligkeit!
Und kommt mein Liebster nicht hinein,
mag nicht im Paradiese sein!
English Translation (includes the two
introductory stanzas not set by Brahms)
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1, lines 1-2. The piano
begins with a half-measure (one and a half beats) upbeat, a
descending arpeggio with the hands in unison. The voice
enters on the last note of the upbeat, loosely imitating the piano
figure with a gentle chromatic decoration on “Am jüngsten
Tag.” The piano left hand moves to wide arpeggios, two in a
bar. A similar pattern a step lower is used in the next
measure for the rest of the line, “ich aufersteh’.” The
second line is more continuous, sweeping up after a third
quasi-imitation of the piano and then adding two wide downward
leaps on “Liebsten.” The piano here moves to bass notes
followed by chords in the right hand after the beat, ending the
line on “dominant” harmony.
0:12 [m. 5]--Stanza (strophe) 1, line 3. The piano
has a measure by itself, with the bass rising through two octaves
on the “dominant” note and the right hand rising chromatically on
colorfully dissonant “diminished seventh” chords after the
beat. This piano measure is repeated exactly as the third
line is sung, doubling the piano’s chromatic line. A second
near-repetition of the piano measure changes the last two
right-hand harmonies as the line closes off with another downward
leap and upward turn.
0:18 [m. 8]--Stanza (strophe) 1, line 4. The pattern
with bass notes and after-beat right-hand chords continues under
this line. The voice enters after the downbeat, rising to a
note held over the bar line on “mich.” The harmony moves
toward the minor version of the “dominant” key (C minor), reaching
a cadence there with a “leaning” note (a so-called
“appoggiatura”). Back home in F, the whole line is then
repeated over two rising gestures that reach up to a high F,
shortened by removing two-note syllables on “Schlafen.” A
slowing (poco rit.) is marked for this statement. The
lower piano harmony and the voice introduce chromatic notes with
the second rising gesture, the vocal D-flat providing a minor-key
0:31 [m. 13]--In a connecting interlude, the piano returns
to its opening upbeat descending arpeggio, now over the continuing
bass/off-beat pattern. A second, lower descent again
introduces the minor tinge of the note D-flat. Another
connecting measure without the upbeat descent leads into the
0:38 [m. 15]--Stanza (strophe) 2, lines 1-2. The
vocal line is the same as in stanza 1, but marked forte,
and the piano now doubles the voice, strongly harmonized in thirds
in both hands. This new accompaniment thus removes the
element of imitation without the descending upbeat gesture.
With the downbeat of the second line, the original accompaniment
pattern and piano dynamic level returns.
0:48 [m. 19]--Stanza (strophe) 2, line 3. This line
and its introductory piano measure are set as in stanza 1 at 0:12
[m. 5]. There is a fortuitous parallel between the stanzas
with a long-emphasized note on “ihn” in stanza 1 and “Liebster” in
stanza 2, both words referring to the girl’s beloved.
0:55 [m. 22]--Stanza (strophe) 2, line 4. The first
statement up to the C-minor cadence is set as in stanza 1 at 0:18
[m. 8], with the held note over the bar line on the first syllable
of “Paradiese.” The repetition is set to the same notes and
harmonies as before, but it is stretched out two measures by
“augmentation,” lengthening all the vocal notes in a broad
long-short rhythm. One gentle leaning “appoggiatura” is
added to “Paradiese.” The piano harmonies are also the same,
but they are ingeniously separated by rests to accommodate the
stretched-out vocal line. Because of this “natural” slowing,
Brahms does not mark the poco rit. here.
1:11 [m. 29]--Postlude. It is essentially identical
to the connecting interlude between the stanzas, with the two
descending arpeggios on upbeats and the next connecting
measure. This second measure is changed at the end (where
the voice had entered on its upbeat) to continue the F-major
harmony and rise higher. A third measure is added continuing
the bass/off-beat pattern, rising to held chords in both hands.
1:29--END OF SONG [31 mm.]
7. Schön war, das ich dir weihte (Fair Was My Gift to
You). Text by Georg Friedrich Daumer, after a Turkish
source. Einfach (Simply). Expanded ternary form with
developmental middle section (AA’BA”). F MINOR, 4/4 time
(Middle key D minor, low key C-sharp minor).
Schön war, das ich dir weihte,
das goldene Geschmeide,
süß war der Laute Ton,
die ich dir auserlesen;
das Herze, das sie beide
darbrachte, wert gewesen
wär’s, zu empfangen einen bessern Lohn.
0:00 [m. 1]--Lines 1-2 (A). After a measure of
semi-detached off-beat syncopation on the “dominant” note C from
the piano, the voice droops down on the first two words. The
piano doubles this in the right hand, harmonizing in thirds.
After pausing, the voice continues with an upward motion and then
a downward plunge on the rest of the line, the piano harmonizing
the upward motion in sixths and the downward in thirds as the
syncopated C continues in the left hand. The phrase
continues for the second line with another descent, then stretches
out the last word to a full cadence. The doubling now
includes fourths, and the syncopation moves down to F and
B-flat. It then outlines an F-minor chord in a bare bridge.
0:18 [m. 6]--Lines 3-4 (A’). The bridge after
the cadence takes the place of the earlier introduction. The
setting and declamation of these lines is like the first two,
except for the single syllable on “Ton” replacing the two on
“weihte.” The last note of that descent is left to the
piano. The piano accompaniment itself is brought down to a
lower octave, and the syncopated left hand moves away from C
sooner. The sixth degree (D-flat) is also added to the low
syncopation. The right hand adds a new imitation of the
descent from “die ich dir” under “auserlesen” for a more
continuous piano descent. The bridge adds bass notes yet
another octave lower. (The middle and low editions invert
the piano harmonies in the line 4 descent.)
0:34 [m. 10]--Lines 5-6 (B). Brahms runs these
lines together, following the poem’s enjambments, pausing at the
commas rather than the actual line breaks. Beginning with an
upbeat on “das,” the music makes a striking harmonic shift to
D-flat major, a third below the home key. The setting of
line 5 closely resembles lines 1 and 3, but in the brighter new
major key. The syncopations hold on a low A-flat, with added
bass notes beneath. But then the beginning of line 6 follows
directly and unexpectedly without a pause, with a near echo on the
word “darbrachte.” The voice turns to minor (still based on
D-flat) to complete the line in anguished descending long-short
rhythms supported by low piano chords that abandon the vocal
0:46 [m. 13]--Line 7, first statement (B,
continued). The first word “wär’s” follows grammatically
directly after the end of line 6. Brahms observes this,
placing it on a downbeat and a longer note to separate it from the
rest of the line. The syncopation has moved, but then it
finally stops under the continuation of this first statement of
the final line. The minor flavor turns quickly back to major
(still on D-flat) with a soaring line on “empfangen” over low
piano harmonies. The line concludes with short
downward-arching figures in two-note groups, the piano adding its
own low-range rising two-note groups, and the volume building to a
climax. The last word “Lohn” sweeps down, diverting from a
full D-flat arrival as the syncopation returns.
1:02 [m. 17]--Transition. After the piano reaches
upward, the last words of line 6, “wert gewesen,” are given two
sequential statements to lead back to the home key and the opening
material. The two statements are descents, with the second
one a step higher and adding an upward turn at the end as a
lead-in. The slow bass notes rise chromatically, and the
syncopation rises from A-flat to B-flat to C. Under the two
statements, the right hand fully harmonizes its doubling with
figures based on the short rising motion heard in lines 1, 3, and
5. The volume builds strongly with the second statement on
the approach to the return.
1:09 [m. 19]--Line 7, second statement (A”).
The buildup flows directly into a final statement of line 7.
It uses the same music as the statements of lines 1-2 and lines
3-4, with the piano alone taking the descent originally heard at
the beginning of lines 2 and 4, as there are fewer words to
set. The volume is now forte, in strong contrast to
the opening. The piano harmonies are changed, adding a new
contrary motion in the left hand against the rising vocal
figure. The left-hand syncopation moves down in harmonic
thirds in the second measure. The forte outburst
quickly wanes. The piano pauses as the voice begins “einen
bessern Lohn,” then plays block chords leading into the cadence.
1:22 [m. 22]-- Postlude. With the bitter minor-key
vocal cadence, the piano bass resumes the syncopation. The
right hand, after an initial downward leap, plays the familiar
descending motion in thirds. The syncopation stops again,
and the descending motion is played at a higher level in sixths
over left-hand chords that reiterate the cadence music from “einen
bessern Lohn.” After its second descent, the right hand
joins the cadence music, three times echoing the left hand after
the beat before the final bass octave.
1:40--END OF SONG [24 mm.]
END OF SET