EIGHT SONGS (LIEDER UND GESÄNGE), OP. 58
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG
This set is the
first example of a type of grouping that would continue in the
next two sets. Perhaps not as symmetrical as Op. 59 nor as steadily progressive as
Op. 63, it nonetheless contains
internal “subgroups” by two poets. The first three songs
are all by Kopisch, two of them translations from
Italian. There are also two songs by Friedrich Hebbel
that are juxtaposed, and while very different, they both begin
with similar vocal gestures. The two books are also
highly contrasted. The first four love songs are of a
rather gentle character, despite the somewhat bitter ending of
No. 3 (“Die Spröde”), and the second set of four contains more
deeply introspective, dark, and heavy songs. The
set also retains a vestige from the three previous sets
(including the previous Daumer set, Op.
57), the long “capstone” song, which he abandoned in Op. 59 and Op.
63. As in Op. 48 and Op. 49, that “capstone” song is by
August Friedrich von Schack, and is quite extended even though
Brahms cut two verses from the poem. The first four
songs all have virtuosic piano parts, especially No. 1,
“Blinde Kuh,” which is practically a piano toccata with vocal
embellishment. No. 2, “Während des Regens,” uses
metrical alternation to an unusual degree and is the only one
of Brahms’s “rain songs” (the most famous of which are in Op. 59) where the precipitation is a
symbol of joy rather than of regret or loss. No. 4,
which continues the character of the first set despite not
being by Kopisch, is one of the most inspired, hushed, and
atmospheric of all the songs, and is extraordinarily difficult
for both performers. The second book begins with the
painfully lamenting and almost motionless “Schwermut,” which
is about as stark a contrast to the serene, joyful No. 4 as
can be imagined. The Hebbel songs both include romantic
imagery typical of earlier song composers. No. 6 is a
ghostly, spectral picture, while No. 7 transitions--almost
without a demarcation--from an idyllic forest dream scene to
the protagonist’s inner torment. Sketches exist for this
song (a rarity for Brahms), which give great insight into his
compositional process. The setting of the Schack
“Serenade” uses the typical idioms of the genre, such as
plucked string imitation, but it is nonetheless quite tragic,
as the singer remains unanswered and alone at the
window. The songs of Op. 58 are not among the composer’s
most familiar, but they are all of exceptional quality and
imagination, and provide an unusual array of moods and styles
within a carefully planned organization.
Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily
Ezust’s site at http://www.lieder.net.
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
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut
Lübeck--original keys. Includes an earlier version of
the text for No. 3. Also includes an individual printing of
No. 8. No. 3 has the original minor-key ending. In No.
4, the last beat of m. 23 is a G-major chord. In No. 5, the
first section is notated in 4/4 [common time].)
SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche
Werke--original keys. Includes major-key ending of No.
3, changed from the first edition [not played by Barenboim].
Text of No. 3 as sung by Fischer-Dieskau. In No. 4, the last
beat of m. 23 is changed to a B-minor chord. In No. 5, the
first section is notated in 2/2 [cut time]. These changes
from the first edition were not retained in the Peters Edition.)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Edition Peters,
edited by Max Friedländer):
Blinde Kuh (in original key, G minor/major)
1: Blinde Kuh (in low key, E minor/major)
Während des Regens (in original key, D-flat major)
2: Während des Regens (in low key, B-flat major)
Die Spröde (in original key, A major--as in the first edition,
includes the minor-key ending as played by Barenboim. In the
later complete edition, the ending was changed to major.
Includes text as sung by Fischer-Dieskau.)
3: Die Spröde (in low key, G major--includes minor-key
ending and text as sung by Fischer-Dieskau.)
O komme, holde Sommernacht (in original key, F-sharp major--as in
the first edition, has a G-major chord on the last beat of m.
23. In the later complete edition, it was changed to a
4: O komme, holde Sommernacht (in low key, E
major--analogous to the first edition, the last beat of m. 23 is
an F-major chord, not an A-minor chord.)
Schwermut (in original key, E-flat minor, from high voice
edition--as in the first edition, the first section is notated in
4/4 [common time]. In the later complete edition, it is in
2/2 [cut time].)
5: Schwermut (in original key, E-flat minor, from low voice
edition [not changed from high voice edition]--the first section
is notated in 4/4 [common time].)
In der Gasse (in original key, D minor)
6: In der Gasse (in low key, C minor)
Vorüber (in original key, F major)
7: Vorüber (in low key, D major)
Serenade (in original key, A minor)
8: Serenade (in low key, F-sharp minor)
1. Blinde Kuh (Blind Man’s Bluff).
Text by August Kopisch, after an Italian (Sicilian) folk
poem. Vivace. Binary form (AABB’) with coda. G
MINOR/MAJOR, 2/4 time (Low key E minor/major).
Im Finstern geh’ ich suchen,
Mein Kind, wo steckst du wohl?
Ach, sie versteckt sich immer,
Daß ich verschmachten soll!
Im Finstern geh’ ich suchen,
Mein Kind, wo steckst du wohl?
Ich, der den Ort nicht finde,
Ich irr’ im Kreis umher!
Wer um dich stirbt,
Der hat keine Ruh’!
Kindchen erbarm dich,
Und komm herzu!
Ja, komm herzu,
0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction.
the first two verses. It is a constant stream of light and
steady notes (sixteenth notes) in both hands. The hands move
in opposite directions at times, other times in the same
direction. One hand often plays scales while the other plays
leaps, and at times the hands play similar patterns. The
perpetual motion, quiet level, and light touch create a playful
and secretive mood despite the minor key. The opening of the
right hand anticipates, in notes twice as fast, the beginning of
the vocal melody.
0:05 [m. 6]--Stanza 1 (A). The singer enters
against the continuing piano motion. The first phrase,
setting the first two lines, is a closed and regular phrase with a
full cadence. The piano’s top line occasionally roughly
doubles the vocal line. The second phrase, setting the other
two lines, introduces more chromatic notes and some mild
syncopation in the piano right hand, with some notes held over bar
lines. It is an irregular five bars. The last line is
repeated to a new phrase which introduces a skipping descent in a
dotted rhythm that stretches the second syllable of
“verschmachten.” It is also five bars and reaches a full
cadence after a turning vocal flourish.
0:19 [m. 2]--The vocal
cadence leads into a repeat of the same music, beginning with the
introduction. The cadence bar doubles as the first of the
repeated introduction, and the repeat leads back to the second
0:23 [m. 6]--Stanza 2 (A). Brahms fashions the
first two lines as a refrain. He changed the repetition
pattern of the original poem (not shown in the text above) to
accomplish this. The word “Kreis” is the syllable that is
lengthened in the “skipping descent” when the last line is
repeated to the new phrase.
0:38 [m. 20]--The cadence
bar now leads into a very animated bridge that shifts the music
from minor to major for the last two stanzas. The left hand
here abandons the steady motion in favor of dotted rhythm, and the
right hand introduces harmony to the previously unadorned
line. The volume rapidly increases.
0:40 [m. 23]--Stanza 3,
lines 1-4 (B). It is
set in a bright major mode. The piano continues the
perpetual motion. The first two lines are set to a regular
phrase with a joyously leaping voice and wide piano
arpeggios. The second line makes a very brief, but poignant
turn to B minor. The third and fourth lines are again quiet
and secretive. The piano right hand introduces small rests
that give the music a slightly tentative character illustrating
the entreaty described in the text. The third line is
repeated to that effect, and the fourth line reaches a
half-cadence that includes tinges from the G-minor key of the
first two stanzas.
0:49 [m. 33]--Stanza 3,
lines 1-4 repeated (B’).
The only variation in this repetition is in the opening leaps,
which add a leading note, shift the other notes forward, repeat
the middle one, and shorten all of them by half. This serves
to add propulsion to the upward motion. The remainder of the
music is repeated without variation. The harmony leading out
of the half-cadence is changed to lead into the coda.
0:58 [m. 43]--Stanza 3,
lines 5-6 (Coda).
The last two lines, which simply reiterate the fourth line of the
stanza, are used by Brahms to create a punctuating coda. The
fifth line shoots joyously upward. The piano varies the
rhythm with rests and dotted rhythms, and adds harmony to the
right hand. The first “herzu” of the last line again makes
the same upward motion with a single leap of a fifth, eliminating
a middle note.
1:02 [m. 47]--Brahms adds
an extra “komm” before the last “herzu.” This “komm” enters
on a mild syncopation at a lower level than the previous two
leaps. This allows an even wider leap (a seventh) to the
same note for the final “herzu,” which is sustained as the piano
races upward. The kinetic energy of the piano finally bursts
into two short rolled chords and a final sustained one with a low
1:13--END OF SONG [52 mm.]
2. Während des Regens (During the Rain). Text
by August Kopisch. Lebhaft (Lively). Modified strophic
form (AA’BA”). D-FLAT MAJOR, 6/4 and 9/4 time (Low key
Voller, dichter tropft ums Dach da,
Tropfen süßer Regengüsse,
Meines Liebchens holde Küsse
Mehren sich, je mehr ihr tropfet!
Tropft ihr, darf ich sie umfassen,
Laßt ihr’s, will sie
Himmel, werde nur nicht lichter,
Tropfen, tropfet immer dichter!
0:00 [m. 1]--Lines 1-2 (A). The pattering
accompaniment that graphically depicts the rain is established
rather hesitantly in the two-bar introduction, the right hand
establishing its pattern of playing after the beats. These
rising lines become more assertive under the text, and the right
hand begins to incorporate double notes. The singer sweeps
upward in the first line, then falls back down, as does the
0:07 [m. 5]--The second
line shifts from 6/4 to 9/4 time, which enables the lengthening of
the first syllables of “Tropfen” and “Regengüsse.” The vocal
line begins at a high level, and reaches its peak on
“Regengüsse.” The phrase makes a motion to the “dominant”
key, A-flat, but the voice does not reach a complete close
there. The pattering accompaniment arches up and back down
after the voice, moving back to the home key.
0:14 [m. 8]--Lines 3-4 (A’). The meter moves
back to 6/4, and line 3 is set in the same manner as line 1.
0:17 [m. 10]--The fourth
line is set in 9/4 time, as was the second. The lengthened
words are the parallel “mehren” and “mehr.” The line is
identical to line 2 until the end, where the voice does come to a
full close on A-flat after an embellished descent. The
following piano bridge is static, undulating on the same two notes
in both hands.
0:25 [m. 13]--Lines 5-6 (B). The music slides
strikingly to D minor. The first words of line 5, “Tropft
ihr,” remain unexpectedly in the previous 9/4, and are
consequently lengthened. The right hand harmonies are more
full, and include three- and four-note chords. The vocal
line has a gently pleading quality. The rest of the line
moves back to 6/4 and makes a subtle harmonic shift from D minor
to A major, the piano moving to the static undulation heard before
the line, but a half-step higher.
0:31 [m. 16]--The sixth
line, like the fifth, begins with a 9/4 bar on “laßt ihrs.”
It also moves to D minor, but now begins with a more dissonant
“diminished seventh” chord. The rest of the line is in 6/4,
and begins in a similar manner as had this portion of line 5, but
the word “entlassen” is suddenly and joyously expanded, sliding to
the new key of B-flat major. The volume greatly increases,
and the singer soars, stretching the second syllable of the word
to four notes, the first of which is held for eight beats.
0:39 [m. 20]--The words
“will sie mich entlassen” are repeated, leading to a climax.
The repetition makes a dramatic motion back to the home key of
D-flat. This time, the second syllable of “entlassen” is
stretched even longer, to six notes. The first of these is
again eight beats, but the last is also a bit longer at three
beats. It is used to quiet the music down for a
half-cadence, at which point the steady pattering finally makes a
noticeable break (it had also briefly stopped under the first
0:47 [m. 24]--Lines 7-8 (A”). The singer’s melody
for line 7 is the same as that for lines 1 and 3, but the
pattering accompaniment is more smooth and flowing, suggesting a
more steady and heavy rainfall (as pled for by the protagonist of
the poem). The right hand only rests on the first and fourth
beats of the two bars.
0:51 [m. 26]--As expected,
the meter shifts to 9/4 for the last line. Brahms marks it animato, and indeed, the
pattering becomes more insistent, the right hand now playing
steady notes with no breaks. The first note on “Tropfen” is
lengthened in a manner similar to the first notes of lines 2 and
4, but the rest of the line diverges and remains in the home
key. Chromatic notes are introduced in the chords of the
left hand to add harmonic color.
0:55 [m. 28]--The words
“immer dichter” are repeated. The first syllable of “immer”
is given the lengthening that it was denied on its first
statement. The word “immer” is given a third time before the
second “dichter.” This statement of “dichter” is greatly
lengthened, and the pattering accompaniment underneath is more
tightly grouped, becoming excited even as the volume
diminishes. The word “dichter” is then given a third
statement with the same lengthening at a higher level. These
repetitions remain in 9/4.
1:01 [m. 31]--The last
word “dichter” is given a fourth and final statement as the meter
shifts back to 6/4. The word’s lengthening is the same,
however. The shift to 6/4 affects the accompaniment, whose
notes are even more tightly grouped. The singer seems to
trail off after this last statement of the word, avoiding a full
close. The piano continues to happily patter ever upward,
suddenly breaking off with a rolled chord. This is followed
by another, suddenly louder rolled chord and then a final lower,
solid chord to end the song.
1:13--END OF SONG [34 mm.]
3. Die Spröde (The Aloof Woman). Text
by August Kopisch, after an Italian (Calabrian) folk poem.
Grazioso. Varied strophic form (AAB). A MAJOR, 2/4
time, with two 3/4 bars (Low key G major).
Ich sahe eine Tig’rin
Im dunkeln Haine,
Und doch mit meinen Tränen
Konnt’ ich sie zähmen.
Sah auch die harten Steine,
Erweicht vom Fall der Tropfen
Und du, so eine zarte,
Du lachst zu meinem Seufzen
Und bittern Grämen.
0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction.
an upbeat. The fast arching triplet groups in the left hand
initially contribute to this gracefulness. The music
suddenly includes surprising borrowings from the minor, along with
a more agitated dotted rhythm in the right hand. The left
hand triplets become more forceful, and clash with the right hand
rhythm. They settle on an arching A-major arpeggio,
dissipating the tension before the entry of the singer.
0:09 [m. 5]--Stanza 1 (A). The singer enters
with another lilting melody beginning with a dotted rhythm.
At the mention of the tigress (“Tig’rin”), the borrowings from the
minor as heard in the introduction assert themselves. The
accompaniment is now completely in triplet arpeggios, with both
wide and shorter sweeping motion. The second line, “im
dunklen Haine,” is repeated, the first time moving straight
upward, the second time using the dotted rhythm to propel itself.
0:21 [m. 11]--As the
second line finishes, the piano begins a reminiscence of the
introduction, restoring the full major mode. The third line
has a brief chromatic descent. The triplets are now passed
between the hands. The last line comes fully to the lilting
and graceful mood heard at the beginning, with its light downward
leaps. The piano introduces a short three-note countermelody
under “zähmen.” The line is repeated, with a lengthened
cadence on “zähmen.” The voice does note come to a full
0:36 [m. 1]--The piano
leads smoothly into a repetition of the introduction. Repeat
signs are used for the second stanza.
0:43 [m. 5]--Stanza 2 (A). The
music is as in stanza 1. The minor-key borrowings are now
used to illustrate the marble stone (“Marmelsteine”). Brahms
goes back to line 1 and repeats “die harten Steine” rather than
the second line on the dotted rhythm.
0:55 [m. 11]--The last two
lines, including the reminiscence of the introduction and the
repetition of the final line, are as in stanza 1. The
countermelody and lengthened cadence are both heard under
1:09 [m. 19]--The
introduction is again reprised, this time without repeat signs,
since the last stanza will be set to quite different music.
1:17 [m. 23]--Stanza 3 (B). The new material
begins with an inserted 3/4 bar. This allows for an
expressive pause after the meaningful word “du.” The
borrowings from minor again begin to be heard. The 2/4 meter
is restored, and the descending pattern on “so eine zarte” is
repeated for “holdsel’ge Kleine.” This time, the top notes of the
continuing piano triplets harmonize the sung melody a third
1:26 [m. 27]--Another 3/4
bar is inserted here for a parallel passage on the last two lines
that seems to begin in the same way. The descending pattern
is suddenly wrenched up a half-step, however, and the key itself
is also shifted up to B-flat major. This greatly increases
the agitation. The pattern on “bittern Grämen” is a rhythmic
variant of that at “zu meinmen Seurzen.”
1:36 [m. 31]--The B-flat
major harmony is artfully used (as the “Neapolitan” chord) to
pivot back to the minor
key on A. The last two lines are conflated together in an
unambiguous minor. The text is abbreviated to “Du lachst zu
meinem bittern Grämen.” Both the voice and piano arrest
their motion, the former with a pause after “lachst” followed by
the rhapsodic arch on the rest of the words that descends to an
A-minor cadence. Brahms marks it ad libitum. The piano inserts pauses
during this arching line.
1:48 [m. 35]--The
expressive descent and cadence on “Grämen” leads to a final
reminiscence of the introduction in the bleak minor key. The
gracefully leaping descents are now given in a syncopated rhythm
within single bars, turning them into dirge-like sobs above
the left hand triplets, which are now separated by rests.
The last two chords in this recording remain in the minor
key. The first edition and several others, including Peters,
retained this ending. Brahms himself changed the last two
chords to major in his personal copy, an alteration reflected in
the Complete Edition reprinted by Dover. He was apparently
undecided as to how dark he wanted the ending of such a mostly
gentle song to be.
2:07--END OF SONG [39 mm.]
4. O komme, holde Sommernacht
(O Come, Lovely Summer Night).
(Lively and secretively). Through-composed form with
elements of ternary design. F-SHARP MAJOR, 4/4 time (Low key
O komme, holde Sommernacht,
Dich hat die Liebe recht gemacht
Da brechen manche Knospen los,
Da öffnen ihren süßen Schoß
Da neigt ihr Haupt im Dämmerschein
Da wird mein Liebchen auch noch mein,
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza
1. The song begins on an upbeat with a downward-winding
series of notes in triplet rhythm, a rhythm that will persist
throughout the song. They are marked molto piano. When the
voice enters after a bar, it has a joyous, but secretive quality,
leaping happily in an extremely bright melody with dotted
rhythm. It is supported by the continuing triplets, now
somewhat lower and wider and marked leggiero, as well as a bass line with rustic
“horn fifth” harmonies. This is marked sotto voce. This
harmonized bass becomes more fragmented in the second phrase after
“verschwiegen.” Brahms went out of his way to convey the
light, secretive quality. He also exploited the short
three-syllable lines throughout the poem with strategically placed
long notes, such as here on “verschwiegen” and “Siegen.”
0:15 [m. 10]--Brahms adds
to what would have been a very short song by repeating the entire
text and melody of stanza 1. The accompaniment is varied,
placing the shimmering triplets in the low left-hand bass and the
“horn fifth” harmonies in the right hand.
0:28 [m. 18]--Stanza
2. For this middle section, the triplets move back to the
right hand. Every other note is harmonized with a double
third, making the texture thicker. The bass now plays in
octaves, still in the prevailing dotted rhythm. The harmony
makes a colorful motion, first to the home minor and then to the
much brighter key of D major. The word “verstohlen” is given
a decorative turn, under which the triplets now include full
three-note chords and a delayed harmonic resolution (a
“suspension”). They move back to the double thirds before
the next line.
0:35 [m. 22]--The next
lines are almost parallel to the last two. The word “süßen”
is given a decorative, but somewhat dissonant falling line.
The last word, “Violen,” is extremely evocative. The first
note is held for six full beats, delaying by two the expected
arrival of the last syllable. In addition, the harmony in
the triplets under the long note includes an inner voice with a
wonderful suspended resolution. The harmony seems as if it
is moving back home to F-sharp, but it “overshoots” this and
arrives instead on B major as the word “Violen” is finally
0:42 [m. 26]--Stanza
3. The first two lines are analogous to those of stanza 1,
but they are sung higher, in B major. The left hand has the
“horn fifths,” the right the triplets. The vocal line is
varied at the end with the lengthened word “Rose,” which does not
leap as high as expected, resulting in a somewhat gentler sound.
0:48 [m. 30]--The last two
lines slide back down to the home key of F-sharp, which is helped
by the previous alteration on “Rose,” as the voice moves down by
half-steps to reach the home key. The upbeat on “da” is
lengthened by a beat to emphasize the shift. The melody
itself is also altered so that it has a more generally descending
contour. In an opposite motion to the first two lines of the
stanza, the final lengthened word, “lose,” reaches higher than
expected, leading into the small coda. Low bass octaves are
0:55 [m. 34]--The coda
consists of a repetition of “das lose,” under which the triplets,
having already moved to the left hand under the previous syllable,
move back to the right as “lose” begins again. They are at a
lower level, however, as are the left hand bass octaves. The
first syllable of “lose” is held six beats, and as it is
completed, the triplets move again to the low left hand, where
they remain through the postlude. The hesitant voice does
not reach a full close. The right hand floats steadily
upward in the dotted rhythm, becoming ever softer and slower until
it reaches a transfigured cadence on F-sharp.
1:17--END OF SONG [38 mm.]
5. Schwermut (Melancholy). Text by
Karl August Candidus. Sehr langsam (Very slowly).
Two-part through-composed form. E-FLAT MINOR, Cut time [2/2]
and 4/2 time (Also E-flat minor in low key edition).
Mir ist so weh ums Herz,
Mir ist, als ob ich weinen möchte
Möcht’ ich das Haupt hinlegen
in die Nacht der Nächte!
0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1.
Introduction. A succession of slow, steady, low, and
dark-hued octaves and chords is punctuated twice by a funeral
march-like idea with a prominent dotted rhythm. It is marked
0:22 [m. 6]-- Line
1. The voice enters, echoing the rudimentary melody
presented by the slow chords and octaves in the
introduction. It begins softly, and the piano accompaniment
retreats to the background. It is simply a repetition of the
introduction music from its second bar, doubling the voice.
The voice seems to struggle to leap upward before plunging back
down below its opening pitch on “Herz.”
0:36 [m. 9]--Lines
2-3. The piano now explores new areas, nearly doubling the
new vocal line, but the funeral march idea in dotted rhythm is
still heard in every other bar. The voice again struggles
upward, this time in purely stepwise motion. The funeral
march idea overlaps a bar before the third line, “vor Schmerz,”
where the voice is shifted up one more pitch level before leaping
back down on “Schmerz.” At that point, a gradual increase in
volume reaches its climax, but it is immediately cut off.
The introduction music, again from its second bar, is very
slightly altered and functions now as a small interlude.
1:17 [m. 17]--Lines
4-5. These two short rhyming lines are set at a lower vocal
pitch than what has gone before. The same repeated note is
sung six times before falling a third for the last two
syllables. The process is long and slow, and the repeated
pitch’s notation is changed from G-flat to F-sharp on its third
reiteration. This change reflects the new harmonization of
the funeral march idea. It enters after the piano has been
silent for three long beats, but it is now in B minor. After
the voice drops the third, the funeral march rhythm also drops and
is heard in G minor. Four slow chords bring the music back
home to E-flat.
1:51 [m. 24]--Part
2. Line 6. The voice enters again on an upbeat with
the last of the four slow chords. The meter changes here to
4/2, doubling the length of the bars. The voice descends
stepwise as it sings the line, slightly elongating
“hinlegen.” The accompaniment pattern changes to left hand
arpeggios on the strong beats leading to right hand chords on the
weak ones, all still very slow. The harmony here is
ambiguous, retaining vestiges of the previous G minor before
seeming to shift the home E-flat to major.
2:08 [m. 26]--Line
7. The line begins with a note held over a bar line.
The key shifts briefly to G-flat major, and the voice leaps twice
upward before dropping a step at the end of “Nächte.” The
piano pattern remains constant, save for one right hand chord on a
strong beat on the first syllable of “Nächte.”
2:25 [m. 28]--The last
line is repeated after a dissonant bass note under the previous
last syllable of “Nächte.” It again begins with a note held
over a bar line. This time, it rises more steadily by
steps. The key again seems to want to shift, to C-flat, but
now “Nächte” descends in two wide, syncopated leaps and reaches a
cadence at home in E-flat. From “Nacht,” right hand chords
are heard on every beat. Under “Nächte,” the left hand
arpeggios slow down from four-note groups to three (notated as
triplets) under highly chromatic chords. The piano still
manages to definitively establish the home major key.
2:44 [m. 30]--The postlude
begins with the cadence. The previous pattern is used, with
right hand chords (still quite chromatic) only heard on weak
beats. The left hand arpeggios now reach very low. For
the first bar, they are again four notes, but they move back to
three in the next one. There is then a last, low, quiet
chord that retains a bit of comfort due to the fact that it is a
3:24--END OF SONG [32 mm.]
6. In der Gasse (In the Lane). Text by
Friedrich Hebbel. Gehend (Moving). Two-part
through-composed form. D MINOR, 3/4 time (Low key C minor).
Ich blicke hinab in die Gasse,
Dort drüben hat sie gewohnt;
Das öde, verlassene Fenster,
Wie hell bescheint’s der Mond.
Es gibt so viel zu beleuchten;
O holde Strahlen des Lichts,
Was webt ihr denn gespenstisch
Um jene Stätte des Nichts!
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza
1. The piano introduction, played in octaves until three
chords bring it to a close, provides the main motive or element
that ties the song together. Its winding leaps, initial
upbeat, dotted rhythm, and downward trajectory help to set the
quiet, unsettled mood.
0:09 [m. 7]--The first
line is the only time the voice directly sings the introduction
material, and it is in unison with the piano. The second
line diverges upward as the piano extends the introduction
material further downward with more harmony. It moves even
more into the bass in a brief interlude.
0:22 [m. 17]--In the third
line, the voice meanders around two pitches before reaching up to
echo the main motive. Under this, the piano plays low
chords. The bridge to the fourth line uses the same
pervasive motive. The first statement of the last line is
quite static. The line is repeated and stretched out on the
words “hell” and “bescheint’s.” The piano plays drooping
figures over low chords in both statements. The voice ends
in the related key of F major, and the low bass again plays a
bridge with the introduction motive.
0:49 [m. 36]--Stanza
2. The introduction begins again, but it is suddenly and
dramatically loud and animated. The voice enters “early,”
and is also very animated, shooting upward on the first two
lines. These move toward B-flat, in a mixture of major and
minor. The dotted rhythm from the introduction continues to
persist underneath this, now harmonized with colorful
chords. As the second line is completed, Brahms indicates
even more agitation, and an active bass is now heard under the
0:59 [m. 46]--The third
line winds steadily downward in a long-short rhythm. The
fourth line again moves powerfully upward. Underneath, the
active bass winds around, then emerges into ascending
arpeggios. Over the course of the two lines, the home key of
D minor is again firmly established. The last word “Nichts,”
is a large climax over a colorful “diminished seventh” chord.
1:06 [m. 53]--The last
line is repeated in long notes. The voice sings the first of
these, “um,” without the piano. The piano enters with the
arpeggios under the second and fourth notes, the voice singing
alone again on the third and fifth, quieting down. There is
then a vocal break as the piano is isolated for another arpeggio
figure. Finally, the piano again breaks as the singer darkly
intones “des Nichts!”
1:13 [m. 60]--Entering on
“Nichts!” with the main dotted rhythm, the piano strongly builds
to the last chord.
1:30--END OF SONG [65 mm.]
7. Vorüber (Past). Text by
Friedrich Hebbel. Sehr langsam (Very slowly). Two-part
through-composed form. F MAJOR, 4/4 time (Low key D major).
Ich legte mich unter den Lindenbaum,
In dem die Nachtigall schlug;
Sie sang mich in den süßesten Traum,
Der währte auch lange genug.
Denn nun ich erwache, nun ist sie fort,
Und welk bedeckt mich das Laub;
Doch leider noch nicht, wie am dunklern Ort,
Verglühte Asche der Staub.
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza
1. The two opening bars establish the accompaniment pattern
for the first verse. The gently arching left hand and
the languid right hand chords set an exceedingly atmospheric
mood. The first two lines are set to three-measure phrases,
and they are separated by a bar. While the end of the first
line introduces mild dissonance at “Lindenbaum,” this is
short-lived. In the left hand, the arching lines gradually
give way to repeated ascending arpeggios, and the right hand also
gradually becomes more active. The second line comes to a
complete and fulfilling cadence.
0:38 [m. 10]--At the third
line, Brahms includes three expressive directions. First,
that the soft pedal be depressed, second that there should be a
slight slowing (“poco sostenuto”), and third, molto dolce (very sweetly). The
ascending “sie sang” is sung twice, and as the line continues, it
introduces lowered pitches borrowed from the minor key (the sixth
and seventh, though not the crucial third degree of the
scale). The word “süßesten” is set to a very languid
descending triplet that clashes with the main piano rhythm.
The entire third line is then repeated, and Brahms fulfills the
implications of the lowered pitches, moving through the warm
“flat” keys of D-flat and G-flat over a now more flowing
1:09 [m. 17]--The last
line gradually comes back toward home. “Der währte” is set
to a downward leap. It is then repeated, and the line is
completed over a sudden and strong crescendo that reaches a climax on
“lange.” The harmony moves to C major, the “dominant” key,
but it has notes borrowed from C minor, and it even retains
vestiges of the flat keys that suggest the “home” minor key (F
minor). Through all of this, the piano has retained its
essential character, with the left hand moving between the
repeated ascents and the arching lines. The piano now has a
bridge that settles back down and confirms the motion to C major.
1:36 [m. 22]--Stanza
2. The second verse storms in, introducing a completely new
character as the dream ends. The key immediately moves to A
minor, which is relative to C major. The piano accompaniment
rests under the first words, set to a repeated note. At
“erwache,” it enters with agitated groups of six chords over a
powerful bass. They then yield to a more steady
syncopation. The music settles somewhat as the line is
completed, and the second line becomes even more steady,
transforming the syncopation to simple after-beat notes in the
right hand. The line is sung twice, the second with a bit
more intensity, but the entire passage from the beginning of the
verse remains firmly in A minor, despite colorful dissonances.
2:14 [m. 32]--The third
line again becomes agitated, and increases in volume. The
piano pattern, with notes after the beats in the right hand,
continues. The vocal line strives higher, and shifts the
harmony up a half-step to B-flat, first major, then minor.
Finally, “wie am dunklen Ort” is repeated. This is the most
colorful harmonic moment in a song that is full of them. The
motion is to the very remote G-flat minor.
2:32 [m. 37]--The last
line soars upward in a strong arpeggio that is finally back in the
home key of F, but it is firmly and tragically F minor, not major. The
piano also reaches upward with repeated chords. They are now
in triplet rhythm, but they retain the syncopation. The
piano bass imitates the vocal ascent a fifth higher. This
marks a great climax on the word “Asche.” The words
“verglühte Asche” are repeated, but more deliberately, in steady
descending notes. After a break, the line is completed with
“der Staub,” which punctuates a dark cadence. The syncopated
triplets and leaping bass shadow the voice.
2:46 [m. 40]--The cadence
merges into a postlude. The triplets abandon the syncopated
held notes, and despite strongly accented dissonances and
continued notes from the minor key, the F-major chord gradually
asserts itself. This is finally confirmed in the last bar of
repeated triplet chords, which are completely that of F
major. They rapidly recede from the powerful vocal close,
but the last chord, however quiet, still does not seem completely
3:20--END OF SONG [43 mm.]
(Serenade). Text by
Adolf Friedrich von Schack. Grazioso. Varied
strophic/Ternary form (ABA’). A MINOR, 6/8 and 9/8 time (Low
key F-sharp minor).
(The title Serenade [a non-German word] is also used for Op. 70, No. 3.)
Leise, um dich nicht zu wecken,
Rauscht der Nachtwind, teure Frau!
Leise in das Marmorbecken
Gießt der Brunnen seinen Tau.
Wie das Wasser, niedertropfend,
Kreise neben Kreise zieht,
Also zittert, leise klopfend,
Mir das Herz bei diesem Lied.
Schwingt euch, Töne meiner Zither,
Schwingt euch aufwärts, flügelleicht;
Durch das rebumkränzte Gitter
In der Schönen Kammer schleicht.
»Ist denn, liebliche Dolores«,
Also singt in ihren Traum -
»In der Muschel deines Ohres
Für kein Perlenwörtchen Raum?
[Here two stanzas omitted by Brahms]
O dem Freund nur eine Stunde,
Wo dein Arm ihn heiß umschlingt,
Und der Kuß von deinem Munde
Feurig bis ans Herz ihm dringt!
Hast du ihn so ganz vergessen?
Einsam harrt er am Balkon,
Überm Wipfel der Zypressen
Bleicht des Mondes Sichel schon.
Wie das Wasser, niedertropfend,
Kreise neben Kreise zieht,
Also zittert, leise klopfend,
Ihm das Herz bei diesem Lied.«
Translation (includes two stanzas
omitted by Brahms)
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza
1. Two introductory bars set up the accompaniment
pattern. Plucked string effects are split between the hands
in imitation of the guitar. The pattern continues under the
verse. The vocal line follows a formula. The second
line comes to a half-cadence, the third intensifies the first, and
the fourth is extended by a bar with a lengthened note (“seinen”)
before a full cadence. The accompaniment adds an extra right
hand pattern after the half-cadence, and becomes most active under
the last line.
0:19 [m.11]--The cadence
merges into an interlude that very subtly reduces the activity in
preparation for the next verse.
0:27 [m. 15]--Stanza
2. The accompaniment is changed to illustrate the
dripping water of the fountain. Rolled thirds in the right
hand punctuate the vocal line, which now gently descends in each
of the first two lines. Vestiges of the patterns from stanza
1 punctuate the ends of each line.
0:35 [m. 19]--For the last
lines of the stanza, which are set in the radiant-sounding
“dominant” key of E major, Brahms finally introduces smooth
“legato” harmonies in the right hand dominated by thirds.
The left hand plays off-beat ascending arpeggios. The vocal
line becomes more decorative under “leise klopfend,” and
intensifies in the last line as it moves to a highly fulfilling
cadence on E. The piano already anticipates the bell tones
of the following interlude under the last line. The song’s
first repeated words are “das Herz.”
0:44 [m. 23]--The
interlude continues a bright “bell-tone” motif introduced under
the stanza’s last line. It quickly makes the turn back home
to A minor and quiets down for the third stanza, though still
retaining the “bell” rhythm.
0:51 [m. 26]--Stanza
3. The first two lines are varied from stanza 1, set
slightly higher and introducing a decorative note on
“meiner.” The last two lines, however, are set as in stanza
1:06 [m. 34]--The
interlude begins as had the one after stanza 1 from 0:19 [m. 11],
but its last bar is diverted to move to F major, the key of the
ensuing middle section.
1:13 [m. 38]--Stanza
4. The verse begins in the last half of the final 6/8 bar in
an extended upbeat. The change to triple time (though in
9/8, retaining the swing of the outer sections) and to F major
signals a different sound world for the middle section. The
vocal line has a light decoration in the first line. Most of
the interest is in the accompaniment, which has a chain of thirds
under the second line that continues beyond the half-cadence to
plunge from a high register down to the tenor range of the
keyboard. The left hand patterns of three-note descents
remain very constant, slowly changing harmonies.
1:24 [m. 42]--The third
line has the same decoration as the first. Under the last
line, however, the descending thirds are replaced by wider sixths,
and the harmony moves back unexpectedly to A minor, the home key
of the song. The line is repeated in a pleading manner,
using C major to pivot from A minor back to F, and the line of
descending sixths changes back to thirds, again extended beyond
the vocal cadence (in C). A single striking two-chord
gesture that happens over a single bar of undulating (rather than
descending) left hand figures moves back to F major.
1:44 [m. 49]--Stanza
5. It is notable that the two verses Brahms omitted fall
between his fourth and fifth stanzas, the two in the middle
section that are set to very similar music. Thus he “bridges
the gap” to conceal his abbreviation of the poem. He also
made some slight changes to the text of this verse, replacing
“noch” (“still” or “again”) with “nur” (“only”), since the omitted
verses spoke of a former encounter. He added the more vivid
“heiß” (“warmly”) to replace “so,” a neutral word. With all
of this, the first two vocal lines of the stanza are set
identically to the corresponding lines of stanza 4. The
accompaniment is enriched, however, first with more colorful,
dissonant harmonic motions on “Freund” and “Stunde,” then with the
chain of thirds beginning at a higher level (a third higher!) than
in stanza 4.
1:56 [m. 53]--The third
line is set as in stanza 4, but with the colorful harmonic motion
on “Munde.” The last line is greatly altered. It is
sung three times instead of two. The motion to A minor and C
major is avoided, and it becomes much more excited, as this is the
climax of the poem. The left hand abandons its pattern and
strides up in strong octaves. The right hand continues the
undulating rhythm, also working upward. The first statement
of the line builds, the second is already excited, beginning a
step higher with the left hand moving in thirds, and the third
finally reaches a strong vocal cadence in F major. Here, the
piano breaks its constant motion.
2:14 [m. 60]--The vocal
cadence is somewhat undermined by the “colorful” harmonic motion
heard throughout stanza 5. The ensuing interlude continues
the 9/8 meter and rhythmic patterns of the previous stanza, and
includes three more of the “colorful” harmonies that help move
back to A minor for the return.
2:26 [m. 64]--Stanza
6. The meter changes back to 6/8, and stanza 6 is set
identically to stanza 1.
2:41 [m. 72]--The
interlude is a bar shorter than the one after stanza 1, since
stanza 7 includes great variations from stanza 2 and requires a
different approach with less preparation.
2:47 [m. 75]--Stanza
7. As in stanza 2, there are rolled thirds and gently
descending vocal lines, but they are set higher, largely because
there is now going to be no motion to E major, rather the stanza
will remain not only in A, but also in minor. To help that
goal, the first two lines are shifted up to D minor to create a
parallel motion within the stanza. The text is identical to
2:55 [m. 79]--The last two
lines are similar to the corresponding lines of stanza 2,
including the smooth legato harmonies and the ascending off-beat
arpeggios. The harmony is active, first shifting to D major,
then back home to A minor, where the last line is again set over
the “bell tones.” As in stanza 2, “das Herz” is
repeated. The bell tones have a greatly altered character,
being set in minor.
3:06 [m. 84]--The singer
rounds off the song with a repetition of the last line. The
only word that is changed from stanza 2 is the replacement of
“mir” (“me”) with “ihm” (“him”), and Brahms emphasizes this by
beginning the word on an upbeat and holding it across the bar
line. The vocal line then soars up to an exceptionally high
note that almost singular in the Brahms songs. It is even
very high in the “low key” version in F-sharp minor. The
note is also chromatic, falling outside the scale of the
key. After this dramatic and somewhat tragic gesture, the
voice reaches a strong A-minor cadence over the bell tones.
3:12 [m. 86]--The postlude
begins with the vocal cadence. The guitar-like figures are
completely transferred to the bass, and the right hand plays
smoother figures that are reminiscent of the smooth legato
harmonies heard at the end of stanza 2 and stanza 7, although they
are broken by breathless rests. Although the singer ended
firmly in minor, after the postlude winds down with a subtle cross
the pianist is allowed to play two A-major chords to end the song
on a slightly more hopeful, if subdued note. The last of
these, after an intervening bass octave, is cut off quickly, as if
3:29--END OF SONG [91 mm.]
END OF SET
BRAHMS LISTENING GUIDES HOME