EIGHT SONGS (LIEDER UND GESÄNGE), OP. 58
Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [449 633-2]
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
Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily Ezust’s
site at http://www.recmusic.org/lieder.
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 (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.
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Edition Peters, edited
1: Blinde Kuh (original key)
2: Während des Regens (original key)
3: Die Spröde (original key--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.)
4: O komme, holde Sommernacht (original key--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 B-minor chord.)
5: Schwermut (original key--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].)
6: In der Gasse (original key)
8: Serenade (original key)
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
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.
for 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 bar.
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
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
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 bass octave.
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.
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 mich entlassen;
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 accompaniment.
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 “entlassen”).
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.
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.
on 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
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 close.
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 “annehmen.”
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 above.
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).
heimlich (Lively and
secretively). Through-composed form with elements of ternary
design. F-SHARP MAJOR, 4/4 time
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.
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,
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 completed.
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 again heard.
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.
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 sotto voce.
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 major chord.
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.
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
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 motive.
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
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.
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 “süßesten.”
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
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
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 settled.
3:20--END OF SONG [43 mm.]
8. Serenade (Serenade). Text by Adolf
Friedrich von Schack. Grazioso. Varied strophic/Ternary
form (ABA’). A MINOR, 6/8 and 9/8 time.
(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
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.
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
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
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
2:26 [m. 64]--Stanza 6.
The meter changes back to 6/8, and stanza 6 is set identically to
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
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 stanza 2.
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 rhythm (“hemiola”),
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 strummed.
3:29--END OF SONG [91 mm.]
END OF SET
BRAHMS LISTENING GUIDES HOME