SIX SONGS (LIEDER), OP. 97
Op. 97 concludes the first group of song sets from the
late period. It continues the pattern where the even numbered
groups, Opp. 94 and 96, are generally more serious and profound in
nature while the odd-numbered groups, this set and Op. 95, consist of
somewhat lighter songs. While this is perhaps contradicted by the
melancholy No. 1 and the dramatic No. 3, the charming tone-painting of
the former and the balladic nature of the latter somewhat mitigate the
contrast. Nos. 1, 2, and 5 are genuine “art songs,” Nos. 4 and 6
are settings of folk or quasi-folk texts, and No. 3 is a stylized
ballad, but the group somehow seems unified in character. There
is a sense of wistful, but accepting melancholy throughout. Only
No. 4 is truly joyous, but its quasi-folk source connects it to No.
6. No. 2 is exuberant, but takes a longing turn at the
end. Nos. 1 and 2 are Brahms’s first settings of Christian
Reinhold, a poet close to his circle. No. 1 is a perfect gem of a
song, and contains some of his most effective tone painting.
Incredibly, the melody was apparently originally intended for another
Reinhold text, “Ein Wanderer,” which he would set to a completely
different melody in Op. 106. No. 2 also uses tone-painting
effects, and is notable for its rapid tempo. The quasi-balladic
text for No. 3, to which Brahms and his circle often referred as “Lady
Judith,” seems somewhat distasteful today, but was of a type beloved by
nineteenth-century romantics. The minor-key strophic setting is
imaginative and exciting. No. 5, which intervenes between the two
folk songs, sets a salutary text by Klaus Groth, a man much admired by
Brahms. Its gentle character creates a smooth bridge to No. 6,
which has a similar mood. Nos. 4 and 6 both come from the
Kretzschmer-Zuccalmaglio folksong collection. Brahms also
provided piano accompaniments to the “original melodies” of both texts
in his large collection of folksong arrangements from 1894. The
settings of such texts to his own melodies can also be seen in examples
from Op. 14 and Op. 84. In both songs, Brahms’s composed melodies
show some similarity to the “folk melodies,” and in the case of No. 6,
he even used the same interlude music in both settings (the composition
and the arrangement). Sadly, his source was dubious, and both the
text and the “original melody” to No. 4 were shown to be fabrications
created by Zuccalmaglio (as were those of Op. 84, Nos. 4 and 5).
When made aware of this, Brahms did not seem too bothered by it.
No. 6 seems to be an authentic Swabian folksong. The notable
brevity of all six songs is unusual. Brahms would typically
balance a group of short songs with one or two longer ones, but not in
Recording: Jessye Norman, soprano (No. 4); Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,
baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG 449 633-2]
Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily Ezust's
site at http://www.recmusic.org/lieder.
For the most part, the translations are line-by-line, except where the
difference between German and English syntax requires slight
alterations to the contents of certain lines. The German texts
(included here) are also visible in the translation links.
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut
Lübeck--original and low keys)
1. Nachtigall (Nightingale). Text by
Christian Reinhold. Langsam (Slowly). Through-composed form
with partial return. F MINOR/MAJOR, 2/4 time.
dein süßer Schall,
er dringet mir durch Mark und Bein.
Nein, trauter Vogel, nein!
was in mir schafft so süße Pein,
das ist nicht dein,
das ist von andern, himmelschönen,
nun längst für mich verklungenen Tönen
in deinem Lied ein leiser Widerhall!
0:00 [m. 1]--Beginning with an
upbeat, the piano, with both hands
playing above middle C throughout, presents a plaintive, evocative
introduction in F minor. As he had done before in such songs as
“Lerchengesang” (Op. 70, No. 2), Brahms imitates birdsong in his piano
introduction to a song about that topic. Biting dissonances and
grace notes (appogiaturas)
characterize the three-note figures.
Two statements of the opening pattern are followed by a sequence of two
patterns that begin with a rising octave.
0:14 [m. 5]--Lines 1-3.
The voice enters singing the piano melody
from the introduction. The piano also plays that melody again,
but both hands are moved down an octave, and the rhythm is altered to a
halting pattern with the right hand entering off the beats. The
grace notes are retained in the piano. Lines 1-2 are sung to the
opening pattern, line 3 to the rising octaves.
0:26 [m. 9]--A piano interlude
with four more bird calls and new
harmonies (including the distinctive “Neapolitan” chord on the second
three-note group) leads, through a lower echo of the last bird call and
a reiterated single note, to the new section and to the major key.
0:37 [m. 12]--Lines 4-6.
In the major key, the next lines are set
to more gently flowing music with a slight increase in volume toward
the highest note on the word “dein.” The piano plays steady
chords. The singer adds a somewhat hesitant rest before the
second statement of the word “nein” in line 4.
0:51 [m. 18]--Lines 7-8.
The piano chords slow to twice their
length, as do the notes in the voice. At the word “andern,” the
piano breaks into rising arpeggios. Further steady building leads
to the climax in line 8, with the word “längst” set to the song’s
highest note. The piano is arrested at this moment, and the music
slows. At the end of the line, the singer makes a strong turn
back toward the minor.
1:17 [m. 25]--Line 9.
After a break, the piano enters with the
songs’s opening gesture, while the voice sings a new, more melancholy
line. As the singer continues, the piano repeats the pattern in
the “halting” version heard at 0:14 [m. 5]. As the line ends, the
piano plays three more bird calls, the second an octave lower than the
first and third, and the second and third again using the “Neapolitan”
chord heard at 0:26 [m. 9].
1:36 [m. 30]--Unexpectedly, the
music shifts to major again for a
repetition of the last three words. The piano is especially
colorful here, entering with a two-note descending figure (derived from
the grace notes of the bird calls) that is heard in the middle and high
registers and then, after the singer ends, in the low bass. The
vocal line itself is embellished, but very gentle. A quiet rolled
chord ends the song.
2:11--END OF SONG [33 mm.]
2. Auf dem Schiffe (On the Ship). Text by
Christian Reinhold. Lebhaft und rasch (Lively and brisk).
Free form--Two strophes, then through-composed. A MAJOR, 3/8 time.
Fliegt über den Rhein
Und wiegt die Flügel
Und grüne Flut
In goldner Glut. -
Wie wohl das tut,
So hoch erhoben
Beim Vöglein droben,
O, wär' ich auch!
0:00 [m. 1]--Piano
introduction. The rapid figures (triplets with
their last notes “cut off”) illustrating the flapping of the bird’s
wings are introduced. They are in an inner piano line. The
left hand and the top line of the right hand punctuate the rhythm with
slower chords. The boisterous introduction culminates in a
downward cascading series of the “flapping figures.”
0:07 [m. 9]--Lines 1-4
(“Strophe 1”). The singer enters to a
soaring, joyous line over the continued “flapping” figures in the
piano. The left hand continues to play isolated chords. An
echo of “flapping” figures creates a bridge to the next lines.
0:14 [m. 19]--Lines 5-7
(“Strophe 2”). These lines are set to the
same music as the first four, with the seventh line repeated to the
music of the fourth. The differences in declamation are minor,
with one “split” note, one “joined” repeated note, and the setting of
the first “Glut” to two previously syllabic notes.
0:22 [m. 29]--From here, the
song is through-composed. The eighth
line is set twice as the “flapping” figures are abandoned in favor of
sweeping arpeggios. The second statement of the line, which is
twice as long, shifts the harmony to C major as the right hand holds a
0:27 [m. 35]--Lines 9-10 are
set to a passage of downward swaying
two-note figures. The piano plays rising arpeggios split between
the hands. Line 10, which is more widely spaced, moves back to A
major. Three more rising piano arpeggios bridge to the final
0:35 [m. 45]--The “flapping”
figures make a joyous return for the last
two lines (11-12). Under the word “droben,” the harmony moves
suddenly to a surprising D major instead of the expected E, toward
which the similar music from the two “strophes” had led. The
“flapping” figures are abandoned for the last line, which reaches a
full cadence in D and is followed by a flowing piano bridge.
0:42 [m. 54]--The last line is
repeated, with an extra statement of the
words “wär’ ich.” The piano takes its only brief break under
“O.” Smoother versions of the “flapping” figures accompany the
line, which pivots back to the cadence in the home key of A. Two
downward arching piano arpeggios lead to one soft chord, then a loud
rolled chord and an octave A to end the song.
0:56--END OF SONG [63 mm.]
3. Entführung (Abduction). Text by Willibald
Alexis. Schnell (Fast). Simple strophic form with slightly
elongated third strophe. D MINOR, 4/4 time, but the accompaniment
is mostly in triplets, suggesting 12/8.
O Lady Judith, spröder Schatz,
Drückt dich zu fest mein Arm?
Je zwei zu Pferd haben schlechten Platz
Und Winternacht weht nicht warm.
Hart ist der Sitz und knapp und schmal,
Und kalt mein Kleid von Erz,
Doch kälter und härter als Sattel und Stahl
War gegen mich dein Herz.
Sechs Nächte lag ich in Sumpf und Moor
Und hab' um dich gewacht,
Doch weicher, bei Sankt Görg ich's schwor,
Schlaf' ich die siebente Nacht!
0:00 [m. 1]--A fanfare-like
passage in octaves, followed by two soft
mid-range chords, serves as an introduction and will also bridge
between stanzas and close the song. It begins with an upbeat.
0:04 [m. 3]--Stanza 1, lines
1-2. The vocal line is mostly in
straight duple division, going against the triplets of the
accompaniment. The accompaniment establishes a galloping effect
with the triplets, a low bass octave placed on the second part of each
one. Only on the second syllable of “Lady” does the singer
include a triplet figure. The huge leap (a tenth) between “fest”
and “mein” in the second line is remarkable.
0:11 [m. 7]--Stanza 1, lines
3-4. The third line twice repeats
the same narrow figure. The accompaniment pattern continues until
the end of the descending fourth line, where a distinctive downward
motion in the bass briefly breaks the triplets. The last word of
the fourth line is elongated over this. The entire line is then
emphatically repeated at a higher level as the piano right hand also
reaches its highest level in both pitch and volume. The piano
merges into a reprise of the fanfare, completing a strophe of 12 bars.
0:24 [m. 3]--Stanza 2, lines
1-2. Musical repetition of stanza 1,
with identical declamation. The vocal triplet is on “der” and the
huge leap is between “Kleid” and “von.”
0:31 [m. 7]--Stanza 2, lines
3-4. Some changes in declamation,
with two notes split to accommodate the extra syllables in line
three. Two repeated notes are joined for the first syllable of
“gegen,” as line four has one less syllable. Repeat of line 4 and
reprise of fanfare, as before.
0:45 [m. 15]--Stanza 3, lines
1-2. Brahms writes out the third
stanza rather than using repeat signs. The music for the first
two lines is the same, apart from splitting one note for an extra
syllable in line one. The vocal triplet is on the second syllable
of “Nächte,” and the leap is between “dich” and “gewacht.”
0:51 [m. 19]--Stanza 3, lines
3-4. Line three has fewer syllables
(8) than in the first two stanzas (9 and 11), so there are fewer short
repeated notes. Line four has the same number of syllables as in
stanza 1, but the accentuation is different, so the short repeated
notes are on the last two syllables of “siebente,” the only time this
note is “split.” The repetition of the line is elongated by one
bar, lengthening the notes on “ich” and the first syllable of
“siebente.” This requires an alteration and intensification of
the accompaniment. The fanfare is repeated at the end, but two
final loud chords are added to close off the song.
1:14--END OF SONG [28 mm.]
4. Dort in den Weiden (There in the Willows).
Allegedly a folk text from the lower Rhine, but really written by the
compiler, Anton Wilhelm Florentin von Zuccalmaglio. Lebhaft und
anmutig (Lively and gracefully). Simple strophic form, with
slight alterations to the piano part of the last strophe. D
MAJOR, 2/4 time, with two inserted 3/4 bars in each strophe.
Dort in den Weiden steht ein Haus,
da schaut die Magd zum Fenster 'naus!
Sie schaut stromauf, sie schaut stromab:
ist noch nicht da mein Herzensknab'?
Der schönste Bursch am ganzen Rhein,
den nenn' ich mein, den nenn' ich mein!
Des Morgens fährt er auf dem Fluß,
und singt herüber seinen Gruß,
des Abends, wenn's Glühwürmchen fliegt,
sein Nachen an das Ufer wiegt,
da kann ich mit dem Burschen mein
beisammen sein, beisammen sein!
Die Nachtigall im Fliederstrauch,
was sie da singt, versteh' ich auch;
sie saget: übers Jahr ist Fest,
hab' ich, mein Lieber, auch ein Nest,
wo ich dann mit dem Burschen mein
die Froh'st' am Rhein, die Froh'st' am Rhein!
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1.
The voice and piano begin together.
The graceful, happy melody is mostly doubled in the top line of the
simple accompaniment. The end of the second line is elongated
through Brahms’s insertion of a 3/4 bar (m. 4) that includes light
syncopation. The third and fourth lines are set to the same music
as the first two, but with different harmonies in the 3/4 bar (m. 8) to
lead into the last two lines.
0:15 [m. 9]--For the last two
lines of the stanza, Brahms adds activity
and excitement to both the voice and piano parts. The last line
of the poem already includes two statements of the same phrase, but the
joyous leaps of the singer spill into a third emphatic and elongated
statement added by Brahms. The piano part has rolling arpeggios
in the fifth line, with a marching bass line and after-beat chords in
the sixth. An exuberant interlude has the left hand leaping
widely between low bass notes and punctuating chords. The
interlude suggests the opening melody. A quiet rolled chord leads
to the next strophe. The strophe with interlude is 18 total bars
0:31 [m. 1]--Stanza 2, lines
1-4. Musically identical to stanza
1, including text declamation, and marked with repeat signs.
0:45 [m. 9]--The last two lines
are also as in stanza 1, with the added
third repetition of the last phrase. Interlude, as before,
leading to the last strophe.
1:00 [m. 19]--Stanza 3, lines
1-4. Brahms writes out this stanza,
but the first four lines are only altered by the rolling of a piano
octave between the two lines of each pair. The 3/4 bars are m. 22
and m. 26.
1:15 [m. 27]--While the voice
part is unaltered for the last two lines,
including the added third statement of the final phrase, the
accompaniment is changed, with the arpeggios continuing through line
six in the right hand, replacing the after-beat chords to the marching
bass line. Brahms also indicates a pause on the last statement of
the word “Froh’st,” where chords are added to the piano left
hand. The interlude is now altered to create a postlude.
The chords move higher and the ending is more emphatic. The
omission of the transitional chord makes it one bar shorter.
1:33--END OF SONG [35 mm.]
5. Komm bald (Come Soon). Text by Klaus
Groth. Zart bewegt (With gentle motion). Varied strophic
form (AABA’). A MAJOR, 3/4 time.
Warum denn warten
von Tag zu Tag?
Es blüht im Garten,
was blühen mag.
Wer kommt und zählt es,
was blüht so schön?
An Augen fehlt es,
Die meinen wandern
vom Strauch zum Baum;
mir scheint, auch andern
wär's wie ein Traum.
Und von den Lieben,
die mir getreu
und mir geblieben,
wär'st du dabei!
Translation (the four stanzas are here combined into two)
0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction.
It sets up the mood of the song, and
will serve as an interlude between the stanzas. It is
characterized by wide-spaced chords with an interior melody in the
piano’s middle range.
0:09 [m. 5]--Stanza 1 (A).
Two elegant, but widely spaced four-bar phrases, one for each two lines
of text. The rhythm is the same for both phrases, with the second
moving to the “dominant” key of E. The rhythm of the interior
melody from the introduction pervades the accompaniment. The
cadence of the second phrase (on “mag”) merges with a reprise of the
introduction. Since the last bar of the second phrase is the
first of the reprised introduction, the strophe, with the introduction
reprise, is 11 bars long.
0:30 [m. 5]--Stanza 2 (A).
Musically identical to stanza 1, with introduction reprise.
Marked with repeat signs from m. 14 back to m. 4
0:51 [m. 16]--Stanza 3 (B).
The “lead-in” bar, m. 15, is a slightly altered version of m. 4
This varied strophe, unlike the first two, begins on an upbeat.
The interior melody from the introduction now moves from the
accompaniment to the vocal line. The accompaniment is reduced to
largely off-beat chords. The vocal melody is not entirely unlike
that of the A verses, and has
the same basic contour. It is more active, however, moving toward
C major for the second phrase by a higher statement of the line.
1:06 [m. 24]--The last two
lines are repeated to a new, but derivative
vocal phrase. Very slight alterations to the previous (C major)
phrase serve to further move the harmony to a clear F major. The
words “wär’s wie ein Traum” are expanded through a hemiola
(doubling note lengths to carry the second one over a bar line and
superimposing a longer metrical structure). As a result, the
phrase is expanded to five bars. Under the lengthened notes, the
harmony effortlessly moves back to the home key for the introduction
1:25 [m. 32]--Stanza 4 (A’).
Begins as had the first two stanzas, but the second phrase immediately
reaches for a higher note at the third line, generating new harmonies
suggesting D major. The fourth line is rhythmically altered
(still within the second phrase) to begin on the second beat of the bar
and is lengthened by one bar. The phrase ends inconclusively, and
the piano follows with a repetition of the high-reaching melody from
the third line, extending the phrase yet one more bar for a total of
1:46 [m. 42]--The last line is
repeated, with a further reiteration of
“wär’st du.” The piano becomes active under this closing
phrase, with sonorous thirds in the right hand. An upward
arpeggio in thirds after the final vocal cadence brings the song to a
2:08--END OF SONG [46 mm.]
6. Trennung (Separation). Swabian folk
song from the Kretzschmer-Zuccalmaglio collection. Anmutig bewegt
(With graceful motion). Simple strophic form. F MAJOR, 3/4
(The title Trennung is also
used for Op. 14, No. 5, another text stemming from the
German Text (Swabian dialect):
Da unten im Tale
Läuft's Wasser so trüb,
Und i kann dir's net sagen,
I hab' di so lieb.
Sprichst allweil von Liebe,
Sprichst allweil von Treu',
Und a bissele Falschheit
Is auch wohl dabei.
Und wenn i dir's zehnmal sag,
Daß i di lieb und mag,
Und du willst nit verstehn,
Muß i halt weitergehn.
Für die Zeit, wo du gliebt mi hast,
Da dank i dir schön,
Und i wünsch, daß dir's anderswo
Besser mag gehn.
The interlude heard between verses (strophes) is the same as that used
for Brahms’s arrangement of the original folk melody associated with
this text (found in the large 1894 collection of folksong arrangements).
0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction.
Beginning with an upbeat, it
establishes the gentle, wistful mood of the song.
0:08 [m. 5]--Stanza (strophe)
1. Also beginning on an upbeat, the
melody establishes its mood through dotted (long-short) rhythms on the
first two beats of most bars. The piano provides an undulating,
but very harmonious accompaniment. The strophe is expanded by the
repetition of both the second and the fourth lines, the former as a
dark, subdued echo, the latter as an emphatic closing phrase reaching
the highest vocal pitch. An interlude clearly based on the
introduction, but with more motion, begins in overlap as the last vocal
phrase ends. The 12-bar strophe thus has three bars added through
the interlude for a total of 15.
0:32 [m. 5]--Stanza (strophe)
2. Brahms indicates a repetition
back to measure 4 from measure 18. Measure 4 is the last bar of
both the introduction and the interlude. The music of stanza 2 is
the same as that of stanza 1, including identical declamation.
0:57 [m. 20]--Stanza (strophe)
3. Although the music is the same
for stanzas 3 and 4 as for the first two verses, Brahms notates them
separately because of differences in declamation. Thus, bar 4 is
reprinted as bar 19 and the stanza begins with the upbeat to bar
20. The extra syllables in lines 1, 2, and 4 in this third verse
are accommodated by adding shorter dotted rhythms to the melody on new
repeated notes. The repetition of line 2 cuts off the first two
words and stretches “lieb” to two notes to avoid complications.
1:22 [m. 20]--Stanza (strophe)
4. Indicated with repeat signs to
stanza 3 (from m. 33 back to m. 19). Line 1 adds an extra
dotted-rhythm repeated note, as in stanza 3, but also splits the first
upbeat note since the line has two extra syllables. Lines 2, 3,
and 4 are set as in the first two stanzas. The extra syllable in
line 3 is compensated by the missing syllable in line 4. The
repetition of line 4 adds the intensifying interjection “ja” to
compensate for the missing syllable. The interlude is extended to
a postlude through a wistful cadence.
1:59--END OF SONG [36 mm.]
END OF SET
BRAHMS LISTENING GUIDES HOME