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Achieving Union at a Distance

Achieving Union at a Distance

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A term paper discussing Beethoven's song cycle "An die ferne geliebte," op. 98. Presented to Dr. Alanna Keenan at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in my second semester of Music History.
A term paper discussing Beethoven's song cycle "An die ferne geliebte," op. 98. Presented to Dr. Alanna Keenan at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in my second semester of Music History.

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Published by: John Paul Dominic Brodeur on Jun 29, 2011
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11/18/2012

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 ACHIEVING UNION AT A DISTANCEA STUDY OF
BEETHOVEN‘S
 AN DIE FERNE GELIEBTE 
, OP. 98___________________A PaperPresented toDr. Alanna KeenanFranciscan University of Steubenville___________________In Partial Fulfillmentof the Requirements for the CourseMUS302 Music History II___________________byJohn BrodeurMay 2011Box #217
 
 1ACHIEVING UNION AT A DISTANCEA STUDY OF BEETHOVEN
‘S
 AN DIE FERNE GELIEBTE 
, OP. 98Wilhelm von Lenz, a nineteenth century German official, writer, and friend of today
‘s
most remembered Romantic composers, once remarked about
Beethoven‘s song cycle: ―
[It is a]
masterpiece that is not at all well enough known and appreciated.‖
1
This remains true today notonly because of its significance as the first song cycle ever written, but also because of its
significance as the gateway to Beethoven‘s late style, its embodiment of Romantic principles,
and its philosophical quandaries which concern the relationship between fantasy and reality.Consequently, this paper will function as a worthy means of growing in the knowledge and
appreciation of Beethoven‘s first and only song cycle, so highly valued by Wilhelm von Lenz.
By a sincere consideration of the most recent scholarship, the reader will most likely find himself in agreemen
t with von Lenz‘ own sentiment.
 
The Poems
 An die ferne Geliebte
is a cycle of six songs which was composed around April 1816 andpublished in October of the same year. The texts were written by a physician named AloysJeitteles,
2
According to Kerman, an American twentieth century critic and musicologist, itappears that the poems of 
 An die ferne Geliebte
were never published apart from the music, sothe composer must have obtained them from the Jeitteles himself.
3
 Kerman asserts that the last stanza of the first song is almost certainly an addition byBeethoven, a tampering which he is known for in cases of other original literary material.
4
As
1
Nicholas
Marston, ―
Voic
ing Beethoven‘s Distant Beloved‖ i
n Burnham, SG, and MP Steinberg,
 Beethoven and His World 
(Princeton University Press, 2000), 124.
2
Ibid.
3
 
J. Kerman, ―An die ferne Geliebte.‖
in
Write All These Down: Essays on Music
(University of California Press, 1998), 173.
4
Ibid., 176.
 
2Kerman points out, a fifth stanza breaks the rigid symmetry in the stanza count and generallayout of the poems: the first, middle, and last poems contain four, eight, and four stanzas of fourtrochaic lines each, and poems 2 and 5 contain three stanzas of six anapestic lines.Table 1. The structure of 
 An die ferne Geliebte
from Kerman, p. 177.Since Beethoven chose to set the two middle songs in the same key, it seems logical to interpretthe two poems as a unit, thus dispensing with any apparent incongruence in the symmetricalpattern.
5
Kerman even posits that Jeitteles may have written poems 3 and 4 as a single entrywhich Beethoven later split at a logical point because eight stanzas were too much for a strophicsetting.
6
 A sense of continuity is established by the continuity of certain images from one poem to
the next. The ―berg‖ (―m
ountain
‖) and ―thal‖ (―
valley
) in the first song carry over into the
second song, and the ―wolke‖ (―c
louds
‖) and ―
w
ind‖ (―w
ind
) in the second song turn into threeof five insisten
t images of the middle songs: ―wolken‖ (―c
louds
‖), ―segler‖ (also ―c
louds
),
―weste‖ (―w
estwinds
)
, ―
vöglein
‖ (―birds‖), and ―b
ӓ
chlein‖ (―b
rook 
). These remain present
even in the fifth song where ―w
este
‖ becomes ―lüfte‖ (―b
reezes
‖), ―b
ӓ
chlein‖ becomes ―b
ӓ
che‖
(
―b
rooks
‖), the ―büschen‖ (―
bushes
‖) becomes ―au‖ (―
meadow
‖), and the ―
vöglein
‖ becomes a―schwalbe‖ (s
wallow)
 – 
complete with its own family.
7
 
5
Ibid.
6
Ibid., 177.
7
Ibid.

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