FIVE SONGS (GEDICHTE--POEMS), OP. 19
This set is the only instance of Brahms not using
either of the words “Lieder” or “Gesänge” (essentially synonyms)
in the heading to a set of solo songs. The word “Gedichte”
means “poems,” and it seems to be used here as a pointed contrast
to the folk text settings of Op. 14,
since the texts here are all by German romantic poets.
Ironically, some elements of folk song remain in the set,
particularly in Nos. 2 and 4, songs of unusual brevity that both
set poems by Ludwig Uhland, who coincidentally was known for his
folksong collection. These two songs, with their memorable
melodies, are among Brahms’s most popular for both amateur and
professional singers. The onomatopoeic effects in the piano
part of No. 4, which marvelously portray the sparks of the
blacksmith’s anvil, combine with the widely leaping vocal melody
to create a 50-second masterpiece. No. 3 is also by
Uhland. While musically related to No. 2, even beginning as
if it were a new stanza of that song, it is more substantial and
formally complex. The poems are consecutive in the
collection in which they appear. Framing the trio of Uhland
songs are two that are harbingers of the style seen in the “first
maturity.” The opening song sets a text by Hölty, the
eighteenth-century poet whose texts were the basis for several
great songs in the Op. 40s from around 1868. Though the
version Brahms set is an adaptation, it retained Hölty’s
asclepiadic ode form. This same meter is found in Brahms’s
finest Hölty setting, “Die Mainacht” (Op. 43,
No. 2), and the musical language foreshadows that of the later
settings of the poet. Brahms established his most important
precedents in the final song of the opus. The long,
through-composed setting of blank verse, complete with passages of
recitative, is completely unlike any of the other early songs, and
effectively places a closing bookend on the solo Lieder of the
first compositional period. Its unusual nature may also be
behind the distinctive titular designation of the opus as a
whole. In several later sets, Brahms would include a final
song that was much larger and more substantial than those
preceding it in the group, and this is the first clear example of
the practice. Mörike, one of the great German lyricists,
wrote the poem in memory of his deceased younger brother.
Recording: Jessye Norman, soprano (No. 4); Dietrich
Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [449 633-2]
Note: Links to English translations of the
texts are from Emily Ezust’s site at http://www.lieder.net.
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
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut
SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke--original
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Edition Peters, edited by Max
Der Kuß (in original key, B-flat major)
Der Kuß (in low key, G major)
Scheiden und Meiden (in original key, D minor)
Scheiden und Meiden (in high key, F minor)
In der Ferne (in original key, D minor/major)
In der Ferne (in high key, F minor/major)
Der Schmied (in original [middle] key, B-flat major)
Der Schmied (in high key, C major)
Der Schmied (in low key, G major)
An eine Äolsharfe (in original key, A-flat major)
An eine Äolsharfe (in middle key, F-sharp
An eine Äolsharfe (in low key, E-flat
1-3 (high keys [No. 1 original key]--higher resolution)
1. Der Kuß (The Kiss). Text by
Ludwig Heinrich Christoph Hölty, adapted by Johann Heinrich
Voss. Poco Adagio. Abbreviated Ternary form
(ABA’). B-FLAT MAJOR, 3/8 time (Low key G major).
Unter Blüten des Mais spielt’ ich mit ihrer Hand,
Koste liebend mit ihr, schaute mein schwebendes
Bild im Auge des Mädchens,
Raubt’ ihr bebend den ersten Kuß.
Zuckend fliegt nun der Kuß, wie ein versengend Feu’r,
Mir durch Mark und Gebein. Du, die Unsterblichkeit
Durch die Lippen mir sprühte,
Wehe, wehe mir Kühlung zu!
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1 (A). A two-bar
introduction beginning with an upbeat establishes the bass rhythm
that will pervade the entire song--a short upbeat followed by a
downbeat twice as long. The voice also enters on an two-note
upbeat, introducing the first of the four five-bar phrases that
make up this stanza. This first one follows the first line
of the poem. It is an expressive, flowing melody doubled by
the piano with harmonies of sixths below. The bass only
moves from the steady opening pitches (F--B-flat) in the last bar
under the lengthened, resolving word “Hand.”
0:17 [m. 8]--The second
phrase reaches higher than the first. Its opening three
notes are harmonized with thirds instead of sixths. The bass
line follows the pattern of the first phase, only moving on the
last word. This phrase, however, only sets the first part of
the second line, repeating “koste liebend.”
0:27 [m. 13]--The third
phrase becomes more unstable. It sets the last part of the
second line and all of the third. There are light
dissonances under “mein” and on “des.” The piano adds an
active middle voice to the right hand, which now does not follow
the voice as closely. While retaining the same steady
rhythm, the bass also ventures away from the steady pitches,
changing in every bar. The phrase gradually swells in
0:39 [m. 18]--The last
phrase of the stanza also sets the last line. It returns to
the secretive calm of the opening as the stolen kiss is
revealed. The vocal line arches up and down, and the piano,
now harmonized with full chords, follows it again. The bass
line remains steady on octave C’s. The piano continues the
voices descent after it finishes, completing the fourth five-bar
0:50 [m. 23]--Stanza 2,
lines 1 and 2, first half (B).
the middle section, Brahms takes the two halves of the first line
of stanza 2 and the first half of the second line and sets them as
three-bar phrases with unstable harmony. It begins with a
sudden high outburst. The second three-bar phrase reverses
the direction of the first. The steadily flowing piano right
hand, harmonized with octaves and thirds, follows the vocal line
somewhat in these first two phrases, and the bass line is quite
active. The first phrase moves to C minor, the second to G
1:02 [m. 29]--The third
three-bar phrase, on the first half of the second line, begins
with the highest vocal note of the song and reverts to the
downward arching direction of the first phrase. This is the
climax of the song. The piano right hand now deviates from
the voice with a steady ascent. The phrase moves to D minor,
continuing the progression of the first two phrases. The
last piano bar under the voice is repeated without the voice and
with a different opening bass note as a bridge.
1:10 [m. 33]--Stanza 2,
lines 2, second half, 3, and 4 (A’).
phrases in the closing section use the same material as the last
two phrases of the first part. The home key is restored
immediately. The second half of the second line, along with
the third line, are set to the phrase from 0:27 [m. 13]. It
is louder than on its first appearance and more richly
harmonized. The chords are full and the active middle voice
is doubled an octave below, giving the left hand more than the
bass line for the only passage in the song. There is also a
new dissonance under the third syllable of “Unsterblichkeit.”
1:20 [m. 38]--The last
vocal phrase, setting the fourth and last line, is set to the
phrase from 0:39 [m. 18]. It again returns to a calm level,
but the accompaniment is again richer. Rather than doubling
the voice, the right hand, now in full chords, descends from the
heights to match the voice at the end, still with different, more
colorful harmonies than at the end of Stanza 1. The steady
bass line on octave C’s is retained. The piano’s
continuation is different, bridging to the brief closing
1:31 [m. 43]--The words
“Kühlung zu” are repeated in a gentle closing. The last
word, “zu” leaps up to the note F (the “dominant”) and holds it
for over two bars, making yet another five-bar phrase. The
lack of vocal resolution to the keynote lends a sense of
timelessness, as do the piano chords, whose final motion reverses
that of the voice. The bass line moves to its original
pitches, F and B-flat, providing the final resolution at the end
in a two-bar extension with a reiteration of the last right hand
1:55--END OF SONG [49 mm.]
2. Scheiden und Meiden (Parting and Separation).
Text by Johann Ludwig Uhland. Nicht zu langsam und mit
starkem Ausdruck (Not too slowly and with strong
expression). Simple strophic form. The following song,
In der Ferne, uses
similar material, and the songs can be performed together without
interruption. D MINOR, 3/4 time (High key F
So soll ich dich nun meiden,
Du meines Lebens Lust!
Du küssest mich zum Scheiden,
Ich drücke dich an die Brust!
Ach, Liebchen, heißt das meiden,
Wenn man sich herzt und küßt?
Ach, Liebchen, heißt das scheiden,
Wenn man sich fest umschließt?
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza
(strophe) 1. The voice begins alone on an upbeat. The
piano joins on the second note with continuous rising arpeggios,
one per bar. The voice reaches upward, than leaps twice from
a long note to a short note in the first line. The second
line arches downward twice. The vocal line retains a
passionate, dramatic intensity. The piano bridges to the
next two lines with a descent in thirds, harmonized in thirds,
briefly breaking the continuous arpeggios and landing on F major.
0:11 [m. 9]--The third
line, beginning with an echo of the preceding piano descent,
returns to the long-short leaps of the first, with a lengthened
dissonance and resolution on “Scheiden.” The last line
descends strongly to the note D and the chord of D minor.
Both of these lines are doubled and harmonized in the right hand,
the arpeggios only being played on the first two beats of each bar
in the left hand.
0:18 [m. 15]--The cadence
overlaps a six-bar piano postlude in the main rhythm of the third
and fourth lines that emphatically reiterates the closing
harmonies. A decorated note on the leading top voice of the
“dominant” chord in m. 18 is worth mentioning. The postlude
ends with another descent in thirds, this time confirming D
minor. A full arpeggio over a complete bar bridges to the
0:25 [m. 1 (21)]--Stanza
(strophe) 2. Other than the initial upbeat, which is sung
over the ending of the bridging arpeggio, the music is as at the
beginning. Notice the word “meiden” at the end of the first
line in both strophes, and the similar sounds “Lust” and “küßt” at
the end of the second line.
0:35 [m. 9]--Lines 3 and
4, as at 0:11. Note that the word “scheiden” is used (first
as a noun, then a verb) for the lengthened dissonance and
resolution in both strophes.
0:43 [m. 15]--Piano
postlude, as at 0:18. A reiteration of the closing descent
in thirds breaks the last arpeggio, replacing the bridge.
The partial arpeggio itself is then repeated in an added
bar. Given the emphatic close of the vocal line, this ending
is strangely open, despite a slowing. This perhaps allows
for an immediate segue into the next song, which begins like a
third strophe of this one.
0:55--END OF SONG [21 mm.]
3. In der Ferne (In the Distance). Text by Johann
Ludwig Uhland. L’istesso tempo (same tempo as Scheiden und Meiden).
Modified strophic form. D MAJOR, with a brief opening in D
minor, 3/4 time (High key F minor/major).
Will ruhen unter den Bäumen hier,
Die Vögelein hör’ ich so gerne,
Wie singet ihr so zum Herzen mir?
Von unsrer Liebe was wisset ihr
In dieser weiten Ferne?
Will ruhen hier an des Baches Rand,
Wo duftige Blümlein sprießen.
Wer hat euch Blümlein hierher gesandt?
Seid ihr ein herzliches Liebespfand
Aus der Ferne von meiner Süßen?
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza
1. The opening is exactly like that of Scheiden und Meiden. At
the end of the first line and into the second, however, the music
diverges, moving from D minor to the “relative” key of F major in
a descent above the continuing arpeggios. There is then a
five-bar interlude, the first bar of which completes the vocal
phrase. There are yearning harmonized leaps, reversing the
direction of the similar descents in the previous song. This
interlude redirects the key to D major, where the song will
0:19 [m. 13]--The third
line begins firmly in D major. A new accompaniment begins,
with slow, wide left hand arpeggios and syncopated right hand
after-beat responses in thirds and sixths. The vocal line,
descending in groups of three and gradually working upward, works
to a climax as the line is repeated, condensing “singet” to
“singt” (“singet” is an older poetic form), and omitting
“so.” The piano repeats the last bar as a bridge to the next
line, completing the phrase after the condensed repetition of the
0:31 [m. 21]--The fourth
line settles the music back down with a large descent. The
accompaniment pattern continues, introducing a fourth and fifth
under “wisset.” The fifth and last line is a fairly direct
echo of the second line in each verse of Scheiden und Meiden. The line is repeated,
beginning a step higher and with slightly altered contour to lead
to the somewhat open cadence. A four-bar postlude follows in
which the accompaniment patterns slow down, including the
after-beat responses, which use fifths evocative of horn
calls. The bass slows down to a drone under this postlude.
0:56 [m. 37]--Stanza
2. The first two lines are set to similar music as in Stanza
1, derived from Scheiden und
Meiden and preserving the characteristic piano
arpeggios. In fact, the music is essentially the same except
for being in a major instead of a minor key. There is a
slight alteration at the end, which is extended by a bar in the
vocal line on the word “sprießen.” The motion to F is also
avoided. The interlude, while similar, is half as long since
there is no need to change keys.
1:13 [m. 47]--Line 3 is
set to the music of 0:19 [m. 13], at least in the vocal
line. The accompaniment replaces the right hand after-beat
responses with an undulating background in fast triplet rhythm,
suggesting the murmuring of the brook. Broken sixths and
thirds in the triplets preserve the harmony. The left hand
arpeggios remain the same. The repetition of the line omits
the word “Blümlein,” resulting again in a two-syllable
deficit. There is a buildup to a climax, as before, and
repetition of the piano’s last bar as a bridge.
1:25 [m. 55]--Lines four
and five, including the repetition of line 5, are set as at 0:31
[m. 21]. The undulating triplets continue, introducing
broken fourths and fifths in the same places where these harmonies
were found in the first stanza. The postlude preserves the
harmonies as well, still using the triplets until the end, where
the horn call evocations slow to a swinging undulation The
postlude is extended by two bars so that it can move to the chord
of the home key (which it did not do between verses). Like
the vocal cadence, this postlude still has a somewhat “open”
feeling, just as did the ending of Scheiden und Meiden.
2:02--END OF SONG [72 mm.]
4. Der Schmied (The Blacksmith). Text
by Johann Ludwig Uhland. Allegro. Simple strophic
form. B-FLAT MAJOR, 3/4 time (High key C major, low key G
Ich hör’ meinen Schatz,
Den Hammer er schwinget,
Das rauschet, das klinget,
Das dringt in die Weite,
Durch Gassen und Platz.
Am schwarzen Kamin,
Da sitzet mein Lieber,
Doch geh’ ich vorüber,
Die Bälge dann sausen,
Die Flammen aufbrausen
Und lodern um ihn.
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza
(strophe) 1. The vocal line is extremely exuberant and
joyful. It begins on an upbeat and contains wide
leaps. Each of the first four lines is set to a two-bar
phrase. The second line echoes the first in its leaps and
directions, with static harmony. The third and fourth lines
are new, with two leaping descents for the third and a stepwise
rise for the fourth. The harmonies also move to F
major. The piano part is highly distinctive. Two-note
“snaps” in short-long rhythm evoke the sparks of the hammer on the
anvil. The direction is downward on the first and third
beats, upward on the second beats of each bar. The second
beat usually dips lower for its first note. The left hand
plays leaping, drone-like chords.
0:09 [m. 9]--The fifth
line is also set to a two-bar phrase. After a downward leap
at the end of the fourth line, the fifth line rises by step again,
also with active harmony (suggesting another related key,
E-flat). It has a large leap at the end. The sixth
line is extended by a bar through a long dissonant note that
resolves upward on “Gassen.” This dissonance and resolution
move back to the home key. There is a final descent.
The two-note short-long “snaps” continue as before, as do the
leaping left-hand chords.
0:14 [m. 14]--A seven-bar
piano postlude continues the short-long snaps, but the left hand
is more active, replacing the long-short drone-like chords with
leaping octaves on each beat. The cadence is emphatic.
0:22 [m. 1]--Stanza
(strophe) 2. Lines 1-4, as at the beginning.
0:31 [m. 9]--Lines 5-6, as
at 0:09. The extended word on the dissonant note is
0:37 [m. 14]--Piano
postlude and close, as at 0:14.
0:49--END OF SONG [20 mm.]
5. An eine Äolsharfe (To an Aeolian Harp).
Text by Eduard Mörike. Poco lento. Through-composed
form with partial return. A-FLAT MAJOR, Cut time [2/2]
(Middle key F-sharp major, low key E-flat major).
Angelehnt an die Efeuwand
Dieser alten Terrasse,
Du, einer luftgebor’nen Muse
Fange wieder an
Deine melodische Klage!
Ihr kommet, Winde, fern herüber,
Ach! von des Knaben,
Der mir so lieb war,
Frisch grünendem Hügel.
Und Frühlingsblüten unterweges streifend,
Übersättigt mit Wohlgerüchen,
Wie süß, wie süß bedrängt ihr dies Herz!
Und säuselt her in die Saiten,
Angezogen von wohllautender Wehmut,
Wachsend im Zug meiner Sehnsucht
Und hinsterbend wieder.
Aber auf einmal,
Wie der Wind heftiger herstößt,
Ein holder Schrei der Harfe
Wiederholt mir zu süßem Erschrecken,
Meiner Seele plötzliche Regung;
Und hier, die volle Rose streut, geschüttelt,
All’ ihre Blätter vor meine Füße!
PART 1 (Stanza
0:00 [m. 1]--“Recit.” is a
rare marking for Brahms. It refers to the operatic style of
“sung speech,” usually set in opposition to “aria” or
“arioso.” The recitative begins in A-flat minor, but it
turns out to be a very unstable minor. The first two lines,
however, are unambiguous, starkly set against low block piano
chords with prominently accented stepwise falling figures with
delayed resolutions (“appogiaturas”).
0:16 [m. 7]--With striking
harmonies, the third and fourth lines begin the inevitable march
to the major key. Under the fourth line, a very high
murmuring in triplet rhythm with repeated chords surreptitiously
begins. These continue for three bars, gradually descending,
before the entry of “Fang’ an.”
0:39 [m. 17]--The
recitative comes to an end with an almost achingly delayed
confirmation of the major key, as vestiges of the minor
continue. Tension is built over “Fang’ an, Fange wieder
an.” The last line slows down , stretching out the word
“melodische” before coming to an anticipatory arrival on the
“dominant” chord of the major key on the extended word
“Klage.” The top of the high chords now doubles the
voice. Note the conflict between the slow triplets of the
high repeated chords and the “straight” rhythm of the vocal line
from “Fange wieder an.”
PART 2 (Stanza 2)--First section of main material (“arioso”)
1:04 [m. 25]--The high
long-short chords of the piano right hand are set against an
undulating left hand that consistently sets a rising arpeggio in
triplet rhythm followed by a falling leap in straight
rhythm. The rising arpeggio is on the first beat, the
falling leap on the second. The voice enters, ascending up
to meet the rhythm and pitch of the high chords. The melody
floats beautifully in both voice and piano. Note the gradual
descent of the left hand bass.
1:17 [m. 31]--The second
and third lines introduce darker harmonies borrowed from the
minor. They are set to two parallel musical lines, the
second higher than the first, with a smaller leap down to the last
descent in long notes. The bass begins to move back
up. The right hand chords abandon the long-short patterns in
favor of long chords lasting full bars. The fourth line
introduces a characteristic descent that will return in the last
section. It contains a very brief motion to the “dominant”
key of E-flat major.
1:32 [m. 38]--The piano
left hand leaps down an octave. The fifth line is set
similarly to the first. The long-short patterns of the right
hand resume. The sixth line makes a harmonic detour that is
atmospheric, intensifying and veering toward the key a half-step
higher, A major and again abandoning the long-short
patterns. The seventh line emphasizes the repeated “wie süß”
of the text, the voice making the downward leap of a third, first
in A major, then immediately a half-step lower, in the home
key. The completion of the line touches on minor. Both
the voice and piano move down, the voice touching its lowest note
2:08 [m. 55]--The eighth
and ninth lines have very colorful harmonies reminiscent of the
recitative. The music becomes rapturous at “wohllautender
Wehmut,” landing on B major (which had been heard in the
recitative, spelled as “C-flat major”). A series of accented
stepwise falling figures begins.
2:27 [m. 63]--The
resolving falling figures immediately shift up a half-step to C
major with the tenth line. Then the music begins to collapse
with the last line of the section, moving back to dominant
(anticipatory) chord of the home key. The vocal line trails
off with “hinsterbend wieder.” The piano right hand begins
downward leaps. There is a three-bar interlude, the last two
bars of which have octave leaps.
PART 3 (Stanza 3)--Brief recitative and arioso
2:54 [m. 74]--The expected
arrival on the home key is starkly interrupted by a dissonant
chord (a “diminished seventh”). The first two lines of this
section are then sung to a brief recitative in the minor.
“Aber auf einmal” is sung without the piano. The last
falling figure in the voice is echoed by the piano, leading back
to major and the main material.
3:06 [m. 79]--The
harmonies and basic melodic material for this third line making
reference to the harp are essentially the same as the first line
of Part 2 at 1:04 [m. 25], without the introductory bars and with
the vocal line adapted to the shorter text.
3:15 [m. 83]--The fourth
line uses the same basic material as the second and third lines of
Part 2 from 1:17 [m. 31], but the vocal line is greatly
adapted. The fifth line, however, is virtually identical to
the fourth line of Part 2, with an added leap and an additional
note on the second syllable of “Seele.” The next bar
contains the downward leap in the bass heard at 1:32 [m. 38], but
the music diverges from there.
3:34 [m. 91]--The last two
lines are set to new music that diverges both from Part 2 and from
the established rhythms. Brahms directs that it should be
slightly slower (“Poco più lento”). The left hand abandons
the straight-rhythm falling leap on the second beats of bars,
instead adding a descending arpeggio in triplet rhythm, creating
an arching motion in consistently flowing rhythm. Against
this, the right hand becomes much more active, playing straight
rhythms that clash directly with the left hand triplets. The
vocal line is quite halting, and harmonies from the minor key (or
the related key of D-flat) are introduced for color. The
last line flows more in an upward motion before its final
descent. The cadence sounds strangely inconclusive because
of the preceding “borrowed” harmonies.
3:59 [m. 100]--The piano
postlude continues with motion begun under the vocal cadence,
still with the clashing rhythms and arching left-hand
triplets. It slows down with longer notes before its
conclusion, which in spite of the slowing also sounds somewhat
open and not completely conclusive.
4:24--END OF SONG [104 mm.]
END OF SET
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