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The Songs of Johannes Brahms ~ 3

SIMON BODE
GRAHAM JOHNSON

HIS DISC IS THE THIRD OF A SERIES that will present the entire
piano-accompanied songs and vocal works of Johannes Brahms. As
such it is a companion series to the series undertaken by Hyperion for
the complete songs of Schubert, Schumann, Faur and Strauss.
Brahms, like Schumann, but unlike Schubert with his much greater
output, issued the majority of his songs in groups collected by opus
number. There is a tendency in modern scholarship to suggest that he
envisaged, or at least hoped for, performances of his songs in these
original opus number groupings. Of course one cannot deny that some
planning (though of a rather variable kind) went into the arrangement
of these song bouquets for publication, but good order and cohesion in
printed form (as in an anthology where poems are arranged to be
discovered by the reader in a certain sequence), though pleasing to
the intellect, do not automatically transfer to the world of the recital
platform where one encounters a host of different practical problems,
casting (male or female singer) and key-sequences (high or low voice)
among them. There is nothing more meticulously planned in all song
literature than the volume of 53 songs of Hugo Wolfs Mrike Lieder
but we have no evidence to suggest that the composer, who had worked
closely with the publishers to make this volume a feast for the eye,
envisaged a performance of these songs in a single sitting, or on a
single day.
Printed poetry collections are as lovingly assembled as an opus of a
composers varied settings, but this does not mean the poems therein
Johannes Brahms, a portrait by Willy Beckerath (1928)
are designed to be read aloud from cover to cover: the compiler of these
volumes, whether or not the poet himself, would expect items to be
selected by the reader according to taste or need. The anthology (or indeed opus number) might be likened to a wellordered jewel case from which precious items may be extracted for use, depending on the occasion: the wearing in public
of every item therein on a single occasion would be both impractical and vulgar. There is little evidence, especially from
concert practice of the time (where items from the Schubert and Schumann cycles were often ruthlessly excerpted), that
Brahmss publications were conceived within a spirit of cyclic unity that called for an integral performance of the entire
group.
There is a modern tendency to see a famous cycle like Winterreise as the nineteenth-century norm to which all other
groups of songs should be made to conform, and this search for cycles has become something of an obsession in presentday musicology, a means of using the popularity of Schuberts and Schumanns genuine cycles as an excuse to pretend that
there are similarly cohesive works in the repertoire waiting to be rescued, or restored to the unified shape the composer
had intended for them all along. It is perhaps a symptom of our bigger is better society that solitary songs, exquisite
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miniatures, are thought to be more significant if they form a part of something bigger. If this is true, it represents an
ongoing challenge to the planners of programmes whose efforts can yield far better and more imaginative results when
allowed to range over a broader canvas than that of a single opus number where all sorts of practical considerations,
including commercial ones, had restricted the composers choices.
Each disc of the Hyperion edition takes a journey through Brahmss career. The songs are not quite presented in
chronological order (Brahms had a way of including earlier songs in later opus numbers) but they do appear here more
or less in the order that the songs were presented to the world. Each recital represents a different journey through the
repertoire (and thus through Brahmss life). In a number of these Hyperion recitals an opus number will be presented
in its entirety. In the case of this disc it is the five songs of Op 49. In this series the folksongs of 1894 will be shared between
all the singers. In a letter to Marie Scherer of 20 October 1894 we learn of Brahmss reaction to an evening (arranged by
the well-meaning Amalie Joachim) where an entire occasion was given over to these Volkslieder: I do not think it a happy
idea to spend a whole evening singing nothing but these folksongs. A few introduced among other (serious and sober!)
songs might be enjoyable and refreshing. In this series this is exactly what will happen. In Volumes 1 and 2 the folksongs
appeared at the end of each disc; in the present volume three songs are presented at the beginning of the programme, and
three at the end.
Three songs from the Deutsche Volkslieder WoO33 (1894)
Brahms was probably the first great composer to value folksong as a source of
inspiration and renewal, a source of national pride and a gift to musicians that
came directly from the peoplea provenance that was sometimes more a
matter of fantasy than reality. He was singularly in love with the idea of folksong
as a kind of manifestation of national unity (and this before the unification
of Germany in 1871), and there are few other composers who took such
painstaking care to incorporate folksong melodies into their works. In his
Brahmss Lieder (English translation, 1928) Max Friedlnder writes:
From the time when, in his twentieth year, he introduced a folksong air into his first
published work, the pianoforte sonata in C major, he returned again and again to the
German folksong: in the years 185059, 38 times; 186069 , 39 times; 187079,
50 times; 188089, 24 times; and 189094, 56 times As a source for German
folksongs Brahms used for the most part the collections of Friedrich Nicolai, Andreas
Kretzschmer and August Wilhelm von Zuccalmaglio.

Herein lies the problem with Brahms as a student and exponent of folksong: he
lived rather too early to benefit from real, disciplined scholarship in this field,
and he trusted his various sources to be as truthful and reliable as he himself
would have been. There were obviously a considerable number of melodies and
texts that were indeed gathered from authentic folksong sources, but at a time
when there was a vogue for this kind of music, and a market that allowed and
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Title page of the Deutsche Volkslieder


by Kretzschmer and Zuccalmaglio (Berlin, 1840)

encouraged a romanticized view of the form that went back to the Des Knaben Wunderhorn anthology, it was easy for
someone like Zuccalmaglio (who clearly had a knack for pastiche) simply to invent folksong material and pass it off as
original. Brahms was completely fooled by this, and on several occasions lovingly lavished his attentions on what he
imagined were genuine folksongs and were in fact Zuccalmaglios original compositions. It is little wonder that composers
of a later age who used folksong material tended to trust the melodies most that they had gathered for themselves.
Brahms was particularly proud of the 49 folksong settings with piano accompaniment42 solos songs and seven songs
with solo singer and chorus (SATB)published in 1894. He regarded these as the crowning achievement of his lifes work,
a body of work that had a connection with the soil of the country and his reply to the output of Wagner, who had created
works around old German sagas. The practitioners of the so-called music of the future, such as Liszt, Berlioz and Wagner,
had no interest in folk music. With the arrival of the new century and composers like Bartk, Kodly, DIndy, Vaughan
Williams and Grainger, Brahmss earlier enthusiasm for folk material made him something of a pioneer; his admiration
of Antonn Dvork was enlightened for the time in Viennese terms and was inextricably connected with that composers
absorption in the folksong of his own country. It is interesting that there was no great composer in the more modern
German tradition who attempted to broach this repertoire and arrange it with greater authenticity. Instead the Knaben
Wunderhorn settings of Mahler created an even more sophisticated simulacrum of folk music tinged with humour and
ironya palimpsest of sources old and new, genuine and fake, where so-called authenticity ceased to be an issue of
importance or interest. Perhaps the question of authenticity mattered less with a dominant language and culture like
German than with Hungarian and Czech (and to an extent English) that were struggling to achieve their independence
from the very German tradition that Brahms represented. Nevertheless, when it comes to folksong in Germany there is
no composer before or since who has done as much as Johannes Brahms and this may have something to do with the fact
that he always identified himself deep down, and with considerable contrariness, as a working-class, rather than a middleclass, artist.
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1 Wach auf, mein Herzensschne


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WoO33 No 16. F major (original key),

4 Anmutig bewegt

Wach auf, mein Herzensschne,


Zart allerliebste mein.
Ich hr ein s Getne
Von kleinen Waldvglein,
Die hr ich so lieblich singen,
Ich mein, es woll des Tages Schein
Vom Orient her dringen.
Ich hr die Hahnen krhen
Und spr den Tag dabei,
Die khlen Winde wehen,
Die Sternlein leuchten frei;
Singt uns Frau Nachtigalle,
Singt uns ein se Melodei,
Sie meldt den Tag mit Schalle.

Awake, O beauty of my heart


Awake, O beauty of my heart,
My tender, dearest one,
I hear a sweet sound
Of little forest birds,
I hear their charming songs,
And feel that day is dawning,
Bursting from the East.
I hear the cocks crow
And sense that daylights nigh.
The cool breezes blow,
The little stars shine brightly;
Mrs Nightingale sings to us,
Sings us a sweet melody,
She heralds the day with her song.

Du hast mein Herz umfangen


You have captured my heart
In treu inbrnstger Lieb,
In loyal, ardent love,
Ich bin so oft gegangen,
So often, my love,
Feinslieb, nach deiner Zier,
Have I followed your beauty,
Ob ich dich mcht ersehen,
If I might only see you,
So wrd erfreut das Herz in mir,
My heart would be so glad,
Die Wahrheit mu ich gstehen.
I must confess the truth.
Selig ist Tag und Stunde,
Blessed be the day and hour
Darin du bist geborn,
In which you were born,
Gott grt mir dein rot Munde,
God bless your red mouth
Den ich mir hab erkorn;
Which I have chosen;
Kann mir kein Liebre werden,
No one can be dearer to me,
Schau da mein Lieb nicht sei verlorn,
Make sure that my love be not lost,
Du bist mein Trost auf Erden.
You are my comfort on earth.
This charming songsuitably marked Anmutig bewegtis in strophic form, like almost all of the folksong settings.
The first two verses are accompanied by discreet quavers, delicately separated by rests at the beginning, as if bowing in
gentlemanly manner to an imaginary lady. As the text becomes more passionate the piano-writing for the third and fourth
verses flowers into semiquavers which weave a graceful wreath around the vocal line. There are six further verses to the
poem, which probably predates the rather similar morning hymn by Hans Sachs which is sung in the last scene of Wagners
Die Meistersinger. As in the folksong Nur ein Gesicht auf Erden lebt (No 19 in the collection) the melody appears at the
end of the second of Zuccalmaglios volumes with the heading Kleiner feiner Almanac. This refers to the 17778 satirical
publications of Friedrich Nicolai (17331811) for which the North German composer Johann Friedrich Reichardt
(17521814) provided the music. This pretty melody is thus neither a folksong nor a Zuccalmaglio fabrication, but a
composition by an important composer in Lieder historya friend of Goethe, one of the founding fathers of the North
German Lieder school, a frequent inspiration to Franz Schubert, and Felix Mendelssohns favourite song composer.

2 Erlaube mir, feins Mdchen3


WoO33 No 2. G major (original key),

Erlaube mir, feins Mdchen,


In den Garten zu gehn,
Da ich dort mag schauen,
Wie die Rosen so schn.
Erlaube sie zu brechen,
Es ist die hchste Zeit;
Ihre Schnheit, ihr Jugend
Hat mir mein Herz erfreut.

4 Zart

Permit me, sweet maiden


Permit me, sweet maiden,
To step into the garden,
That I might gaze upon
The beautiful roses.
Permit me to pick them,
The time is ripe;
Their beauty, their youth
Has delighted my heart.

O Mdchen, o Mdchen,
O maiden, O maiden,
Du einsames Kind,
You lonely child,
Wer hat den Gedanken
Who has engraved the thought
Ins Herz dir gezinnt,
On your heart
Da ich soll den Garten,
That I should gaze at
Die Rosen nicht sehn?
Neither garden or roses?
Du gefllst meinen Augen,
You delight my eyes,
Das mu ich gestehn.
I must confess.
The text of this enchanting song is from F W Arnolds collection and probably dates from the seventeenth century. There are
more verses in the original source. As for the tune, this is an instance when Brahms knowingly imported into his folksong
collection something that was not a folksong at allbut perhaps should have been from the point of view of its melodic
memorability. The tune was said to have been composed by a friend of Brahms in 1850 as they were travelling by boat up
the Rhine, and carefully preserved in the composers memory for over forty years. The chromatic harmonization of the last
four bars of each strophe, the pianists right hand ascending in semitones, implies the stealthy yet determined approach of
a suitor, courtly yet insistent, and not ashamed to use wheedling charm when necessary.

3 Mein Mdel hat einen Rosenmund

My girl has a rosy mouth

WoO33 No 25. B flat major (original key), c Sehr lebhaft, herzlich und ungeduldig

Mein Mdel hat einen Rosenmund,


My girl has a rosy mouth
Und wer ihn kt, der wird gesund;
And whoever kisses it is healed;
O du! o du! o du!
O you! O you! O you!
O du schwarzbraunes Mgdelein,
O you dark-brown girl,
Du la la la la la!
You la la la la la!
Du la la la la la!
You la la la la la!
Du lt mir keine Ruh!
You give me no peace!
Die Wangen sind wie Morgenrth
Your cheeks are like rosy dawn
Wie sie steht berm Winterschnee!
Breaking over winter snow!
O du! o du! o du!
O you! O you! O you!
Dein Augen sind wie die Nacht so schwarz,
Your eyes are as black as night
Wenn nur zwei Sternlein funkeln drin;
When only two stars are shining.
O du! o du! o du!
O you! O you! O you!
Du Mdel bist wie der Himmel gut,
Girl, you are as good as heaven
Wenn er ber uns blau sich wlben tut;
When it arches blue above us.
O du! o du! o du!
O you! O you! O you!
This is one of the most often performed of all folksong settings, and a firm favourite in the recital hall. The syncopations
in the accompaniment perfectly illustrate the impatience asked for in the songs marking. The delightful two-bar postlude,
where the accompanist must play forte octaves in a falling sequence, supported by syncopated left-hand chords, seems to
indicate the moment where this enthused swain draws breath, or rather gulps it, in order to recommence his paean of
praise to his beloved. The high spirits and giddy devotion expressed here by the young man are not often to be encountered
in late Brahms. He was inspired by the tune of course which could hardly have been set in any other way. Brahmss source
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was probably another one of those unauthentic pastiches by Zuccalmaglio which undermined the scholarly credentials
of his folksong collection at the same time as deepening its musical attractions as far as the non-purists were concerned.
Brahmss attitude seems to have been that if Zuccalmaglio really was the composer of a melody like this, with all the
inevitability of a genuine folksong, he was to be admired all the more.

4 Ein Sonett

A Sonnet

Op 14 No 4. Composed in Gttingen in September 1858; published in December 1860. A flat major (original key),

Ach, knnt ich, knnte vergessen sie,


Ihr schnes, liebes, liebliches Wesen,
Den Blick, die freundliche Lippe, die!
Vielleicht ich mchte genesen!
Doch ach, mein Herz, mein Herz kann es nie!
Und doch ists Wahnsinn zu hoffen sie!
Und um sie schweben
Gibt Mut und Leben
Zu weichen nie.
Und denn, wie kann ich vergessen sie,
Ihr schnes, liebes, liebliches Wesen,
Den Blick, die freundliche Lippe, die?
Viel lieber nimmer genesen!

34 Langsam, sehr innig

Ah, could I, could I forget her,


Her fine, loving, lovely nature,
Her look, her friendly lips, ah them!
I might perhaps be healed!
Yet ah, my heart, my heart can never!
And yet to hope for her is madness!
And to hover around her
Gives zest and courage
To waver never.
And then, how can I forget her,
Her fine, loving, lovely nature,
Her look, her friendly lips, ah them!
Much better never to be healed!

THIBAULT DE CHAMPAGNE (12011253), translated by JOHANN GOTTFRIED HERDER (17441803)

The original literary source for this poem was a


collection of Chansons choisies, a three-volume
anthology of French romances with attached airs
that was edited by Monnet and published in Paris
in 1765. This was the collection in which the young
Mozart, dallying in Mannheim with two pretty sisters,
found the texts for songs composed to impress them,
Oiseaux, si tous les ans and Dans un bois solitaire,
K307 and K308. Over one-hundred-and-fifty years
later, Francis Poulenc found in the supplementary
fourth volume of the same set (for sale in the
eighteenth century under the counter in Paris and
Ispahan) the scabrous and erotic poems for his
Chansons gaillardes (1926). Brahms owed the text
of his Sonett (though hardly a sonnet at all) to the
fact that Johann Herder took an interest in the poem
written by Thibault, Count of Champagne and King of
Navarre, which is printed at the beginning of the first

The title page of Anthologie franoise (1765), Herders source

volume (Las! si javais pouvoir doublier sa beaut,


sa beaut, son bien dire et son trs-doux, trs-doux
regarder) and translated it for his Stimmen der
Vlker in Liedern (published in 1773, and of which
Brahms owned the 182730 reprint).
The poem with its subtitle (from the thirteenth
century) has prompted the composer to find a
musical solution that suggests the venerable
provenance of the text. The accompaniment is
four-part writing of rigorous restraint (at least in
the beginning), not a medieval pastiche, but
sufficiently archaic-sounding to suggest the epoch
of courtly love. It is curious that thirty-six years later
Gabriel Faur, in Une sainte en son aurole, the
opening song of his cycle La bonne chanson,
conjures an identical musical texture of flowing
quasi-contrapuntal crotchets, and in the same key,
to evoke an imaginary chatelaine in her tower in the
The original French air by Thibault de Champagne
time of Charlemagne. Brahms was to use this kind
of time-travel again for his Magelone poems inspired
by courtly love and Minnesang, a musical equivalent of the Nazarene paintingallusively medieval but not genuinely so of
coursethat was very much in vogue at the time.
The vocal melody is hymn-like and ardent in the extreme, the flowing crotchets in the inner voices of the accompaniment
pull at the heart strings, the strength and masculinity of the vocal line constrained by the etiquette of the bar line, heroic
passion suppressed in favour of gallantry. But such feelings can only be contained for so longa marking of Poco pi
animato allows the voice off its leash as it climbs higher and higher in describing the divine madness that affects the suitor.
And then a dominant pedal for thirteen bars in which the vocal line, now crestfallen and intent on obedience, attaches itself
to the pianos right-hand chords weaving a dance of attendance on the beloved in a sarabande of devotion. The high note on
nie denotes undying, unswerving service with no thought of reward. This passage sets up the return to A flat major, more
or less the same as the opening of the song, except for the passionate and masochistic outburst at the end (Viel lieber
nimmer genesen!). The singer in his closing bars is first vehement then downtrodden, leaving nothing for the piano to do
but provide a solemn Amen. This vocal cri de cur exceeds the otherwise courtly boundaries of the piece; it is here that
we can perhaps detect the subjective voice of the twenty-five-year-old Brahms, already a veteran of the non-love affair with
Clara Schumann, and now unhappily involved with Agathe Siebold in a courtship both intense and eventually doomed. The
song praises a matchless madonna on a pedestal, perpetually unavailable, especially for a heart-injured young man from

the lower classes, no matter how he might try to disguise himself as a knight. It also permits us an early glimpse of a
recurring pattern in the composers life when dreams of reciprocated love (permitting the sweetness of painful longing)
were shattered as soon as they threatened to turn into reality, seemingly the last thing that Brahms felt he deserved.

5 Stndchen

Serenade
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Op 14 No 7. Composed in Gttingen in September 1850. F major (original key),

Gut Nacht, gut Nacht, mein liebster Schatz,


Gut Nacht, schlaf wohl, mein Kind!
Da dich die Engel hten all,
Die in dem Himmel sind!
Gut Nacht, gut Nacht, mein lieber Schatz,
Schlaf du, von nachten lind.
Schlaf wohl, schlaf wohl und trume von mir,
Trum von mir heute Nacht!
Da, wenn ich auch da schlafen tu,
Mein Herz um dich doch wacht;
Da es in lauter Liebesglut
An dich der Zeit gedacht.
Es singt im Busch die Nachtigall
Im klaren Mondenschein,
Der Mond scheint in das Fenster dir,
Guckt in dein Kmmerlein;
Der Mond schaut dich im Schlummer da,
Doch ich mu ziehn allein!

4 Allegretto

Good night, good night, my dearest love,


Good night, sleep well, my child!
May all the angels in heaven
Guard thee well!
Good night, good night, my dear love,
Sleep sweetly through the night!
Sleep well, sleep well, and dream of me,
Dream of me this night!
So that when I too fall asleep,
My heart shall stay awake for you;
And think of you continually,
Consumed with pure love.
The nightingale sings in the bush
In the clear moonlight,
The moon shines in at your window,
Peeps into your little bedroom;
The moon sees you there asleep,
But I must set out on my lonely way.

TRADITIONAL, from A KRETZSCHMER and A W VON ZUCCALMAGLIO: Deutsche Volkslieder mit ihren Original-Weisen

Brahms took the text from the second volume, p.465, of Zuccalmaglio (already a favourite as early as 1858) where he was
not afraid of changing words. In the songs opening line, for example, allerliebster becomes simply liebster the better to
suit the composers rhythm. And rhythm here is the main driving force. The young Brahms, already a creator of
extraordinarily accomplished chamber music, clearly conceived this song in instrumental terms. One might imagine that
the Lndler-like lilt of this kind might have turned up as a trio section of a scherzo movement in an instrumental sonata.
This is an enchanting moto perpetuo, somewhat in the manner of Mendelssohn, or Schuberts Die Sterne D939; in that
famous song there are similar twists and turns, explorations of unexpected harmonic byways, but those tonal shifts, unlike
the excursions in Stndchen, are prompted by verbal nuances. In any case, it is perhaps unfair to compare late Schubert
with early Brahms. There is little in this Brahms song where the words themselves make a real difference (apart from the
generalized geniality and teasing affection that is built into the music itself). The delicately chugging rhythm with its staccato
articulations is culminative in effectthe longer it continues the more one is drawn into a Bewegung that becomes almost
foot-tappingly hypnotic as the three verses progress. The word von set on a strong downbeat minim (verse 2, bar 13)
would have been studiously avoided by others, but the experienced performer will attempt to disguise this fault in Brahmss
prosody. This weakness is not entirely untypical of the composer who was inclined to brush aside such details as long as the
vocal line remained attractive; he was disinclined to specify the minute rhythmic adjustments of a composer like Wolf. This
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evocation of guitar music was conceived for a piano from the mid-nineteenth century rather than a present-day instrument.
The pianist of today should not be afraid here of creating a lighter and drier texture than the pedalled and opulent texture
which is a trademark of the later Brahms.

6 Der Kuss

The kiss

Op 19 No 1. Composed in Gttingen in September 1858; published in March 1862. B flat major (original key),

Unter Blten des Mais spielt ich mit ihrer Hand,


Koste liebend mit ihr, schaute mein schwebendes
Bild im Auge des Mdchens,
Raubt ihr bebend den ersten Kuss.
Zuckend fliegt nun der Kuss, wie ein versengend Feur,
Mir durch Mark und Gebein. Du, die Unsterblichkeit
Durch die Lippen mir sprhte,
Wehe, wehe mir Khlung zu!

38 Poco adagio

Among May blossoms I played with her hand,


Caressed her lovingly, saw my reflection
Hover in the girls eyes,
And trembling stole the first kiss from her.
Quivering the kiss now pierces, like scorching fire,
My very frame. O you, who flashed
Immortality on my lips,
Breathe, breathe coolness on me now!

LUDWIG HEINRICH CHRISTOPH HLTY (17481776)

Students of the much more famous song Die Mainacht, another setting of Hlty, may
notice that this poem is written in the same metre. These intractable Asclepiads would
make difficulties for any song composer, and the result is a vocal line that is extremely
challengingthe singer is scarcely permitted to pause for breath (the first rest
assigned to him is after sixteen bars, and then it is a only a snatched quaver). The
music itself is beautiful, but the young composer is less considerate in terms of
tessitura, and placing difficult vowels on high notes, than he would become in later
years. Der Kuss is performed on a kind of vocal trapeze, all very well as a reflection of
the lovers ethereal mood, but not exactly encouraging to the prospective performer
who usually avoids the challenge by moving on to another song in the volume. The
depiction of fiery emotion that courses through the narrators soul with a sudden and
awkward high A at Mir durch Mark und Gebein is another idea that is better in theory
than in vocal practice. As in the previous song, written at the same time in Gttingen,
Brahms seems to have treated the voice here first and foremost as a stringed
instrument, capable of providing a legato line at any speed (the marking is too slow for
practicality) and at any height. The composers response to a text about a stolen kiss
certainly comes from Brahmss developing relationship with Agathe Siebold. The
rapturous wafting of a vocal line supported by sylvan horn calls, euphonious thirds and
The title page of Hltys Gedichte (1804)
sixths, depicts a kind of moonstruck ecstasy, as well as the floating image of himself
that the singer believes he sees in the eyes of the beloved. The final phrase with its plea
for cooling quietus, a wistful lift of a third, is also to be found, in rather more sophisticated form, at the close of a later song
on this disc, In Waldeseinsamkeit. Brahms used the 1804 edition of Hltys poetry which incorporates the amendations of
Voss, not always to the advantage of the poem; Schubert had used the same revised edition over forty years earlier.
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7 An eine olsharfe

To the Aeolian harp

Op 19 No 5. Composed in Gttingen in September 1858; published in March 1862. A flat major (original key), c alla breve, Poco lento

Angelehnt an die Efeuwand


Dieser alten Terrasse,
Du, einer luftgebornen Muse
Geheimnisvolles Saitenspiel,
Fang an,
Fange wieder an
Deine melodische Klage!
Ihr kommet, Winde, fern herber
Ach! von des Knaben,
Der mir so lieb war,
Frischgrnendem Hgel.
Und Frhlingsblten unterweges streifend,
bersttigt mit Wohlgerchen,
Wie s bedrngt ihr dies Herz!
Und suselt her in die Saiten,
Angezogen von wohllautender Wehmut,
Wachsend im Zug meiner Sehnsucht,
Und hinsterbend wieder.
Aber auf einmal,
Wie der Wind heftiger herstt,
Ein holder Schrei der Harfe
Wiederholt, mir zu sem Erschrecken,
Meiner Seele pltzliche Regung;
Und hierdie volle Rose streut, geschttelt,
All ihre Bltter vor meine Fe!

Leaning against the ivy-clad wall


Of this old terrace,
O mysterious lyre
Of a zephyr-born Muse,
Begin,
Begin again,
Your melodious lament!
Winds, you come from afar,
Ah! from the fresh green mound
Of the boy
Who was so dear to me.
And brushing spring flowers along the way,
Saturated with fragrance,
How sweetly you afflict this heart!
And you murmur into these strings,
Drawn by their sweet-sounding sorrow,
Waxing with my hearts desire,
Then dying away once more.
But all at once,
As the wind gusts more strongly,
The harps gentle cry
Echoes, to my sweet alarm,
The sudden commotion of my soul;
And herethe full-blown rose, shaken,
Strews all its petals at my feet!

EDUARD MRIKE (18041875)

Brahmss response to this great poem predates Hugo Wolfs wonderful setting by exactly thirty years but it has very little
to fear by comparison. The Wolf has a broader emotional range and a more lavish piano part, and few things can compete
with its other-worldly postlude, but Brahms is here inspired to write his first great songif the definition of a great song is
a wonderful lyric matched by equally wonderful music. It is here that he shows the world, perhaps for the first time, that he
has right of entry, alongside Schubert and Schumann, to the royal enclosure of Lieder composition. (Wolf was later to claim
his place in the same elite company.) The opening recitative (Angelehnt an die Efeuwand) is supported by nine bars where
semibreves provide the minimum of understated harmonic support. It is only on the word Geheimnisvolles that the
music, now marked a tempo, stirs into life with mezzo staccato chords, crotchet triplets, that throb high in the treble, starlike, for the next fourteen bars. These magical pulsations signify the rustling of the wind through the instrument, a wooden
box with sounding board and strings. Aeolian harps were usually placed near an open window, or were designed to hang
outdoors where they would produce random sounds depending on the strength of the breeze. When the strings are tuned
11

to different notes the instrument produces chords, and in stormy weather the
disembodied sounds can sometimes be mistaken for human cries. It is this strange
characteristic that astonishes Mrike at the heartrending climax of his poem.
As in the Wolf setting the first section of the poem is a recitative, an extended upbeat
to the main aria-like part of the work. The phrase Deine melodische Klage! is the
magical entry-point to the heart of two very different songs. The rapturous rise and
fall of Brahmss setting of these words, an inspired bridge passage, exceeds Wolfs
in eloquence. At Ihr kommet, Winde the younger composer makes use of the full
scope of the piano keyboard, hands far apart, but Brahms electssomewhat
uncharacteristicallyto restrict both hands, modestly and sweetly, to the treble stave
for twenty-six bars of music of the greatest ethereal beauty, the vocal line plaintive, the
piano-writing wafting in triplets and duplets. After this the bass clef is deployed and the
arpeggio triplets are transferred to the left hand. The stirrings of emotions matched by
this strange outdoor music become gradually more intense as the poets grief and
longing harmonize with the fragrances of spring, and with memories of his recently
dead brother. It is this young man, and his fresh-greening burial mound, that are
referred to in the lines Ach! von des Knaben, / Der mir so lieb war, / Frischgrnendem
Hgel. Eric Sams makes the point that it is unlikely that Brahms knew this
The title page of Mrickes Gedichte (1838)
biographical information concerning Mrike, and that he might have assumed the
narrator of the poem to be a girl, deserted or bereaved. If this is so, perhaps Brahms
imagined her to be related to the abandoned servant girl, Das verlassene Mgdlein, one of Schumanns settings of the poet
which Brahms would have known well.
Perhaps this accounts for the essential modesty and restraint, one might even say fragility, of a setting that lacks the more
dramatic sweep of the later Wolf, particularly at the phrase Aber auf einmal, / Wie der Wind heftiger herstt. Here Brahms
prefers to revert to recitative and to play down the shock of the phrase Ein holder Schrei der Harfe. For this we return to
the treble-clef modesty where the voice expresses regret and sorrow in a far less dramatic way than the searing manner
employed by Wolf. But we have to remind ourselves that this composer was twenty-seven years younger and writing in a
post-Wagnerian world; the poet Mrike himself, devoted musician that he was, would almost certainly have preferred the
classical containment, the almost shy gentleness, of the Brahms song.
There is one more wonder to be savoured in this setting: for the words Und hierdie volle Rose streut, geschttelt, / All
ihre Bltter vor meine Fe! Brahms marks the music poco pi lento, a winding-down that serves as a kind of concluding
benediction. The duplet chords high in the treble gradually waft their way down the stave supported by the left hands
undulating triplets. This is a perfect tonal analogue for natures sad ceremony, the strewing of rose petals, albeit in slow
motion, as if they were floating slowly through the air before settling. The etiolated postlude, gradually evaporating into
silence, permits us to imagine the narrator, momentarily shattered by a surge of painful emotion, regaining his composure
in a convergence of happy and sad memories. We hear in this resolution the acceptance of his loss, as well as his gratitude
for a combination of sensations, chiefly aural, that have enabled him to gain access, if only for a moment, to a happier
12

pasta Proustian epiphany avant la lettre. And for capturing the essence of that inward journey, and for writing a great
song about the power of music to evoke the hinterland of vanished happiness, the listener feels similarly grateful to
Brahms.

8 Magyarisch

A Magyar song

Op 46 No 2. Probably composed in Bonn in the summer of 1868; published in October 1868. A major (original key),

Sah dem edlen Bildnis in des Auges


Allzusen Wunderschein,
Bte so des eigenen Auges heitern
Schimmer ein.
Herr mein Gott, was hast du doch gebildet
Uns zu Jammer und zu Qual
Solche dunkle Sterne mit so lichtem
Zauberstrahl!
Mich geblendet hat fr alle Wonnen
Dieser Erde jene Pracht;
All umher, wo meine Blicke forschen,
Ist es Nacht.

24 Andante

I saw the all too sweet radiance


In gazing at that noble portrait,
Thus forfeiting the serene glow
Of my own.
O Lord God, why didst thou create
For our grief and torment
Such dark stars with so bright
A magic ray?
That splendour has blinded me
To all the rapture of this world;
All around, wherever I peer,
It is night.

GEORG FRIEDRICH DAUMER (18001875)

At first it may seem as if there is very little Hungarian


about this song: perhaps with this title the listener
might expect something more zany and up-tempo,
music more obviously temperamental. But there is
more to Hungarian music than feisty Zigeunerlieder,
and in 1854 Brahms noted down the melody of this
song (with figured bass) in his own manuscript
collection of folksongs under the rubric Ungarische
Volksweisen. It is somewhat hymn-like, a love-struck
chorale to the beauties of the fairer sex, and with this
accompaniment it would have made a beautiful cello
solo. The composer failed to keep clear blue water
between art song and folksong and this is a good
example of a Lied that may, or may not, have stemmed
from an old Hungarian melody. This depends on
whether the tune that Brahms noted down was
originally his own composition anywaya distinct
possibility.
Georg Friedrich Daumer, and the title page of Polydora (1855)

13

For a melody of this kind there had to be Hungarian words, and Brahms went in search of a suitable poem in the pages
of Georg Daumers Polydora (the source of the Liebeslieder Walzer and other song settings) where there are poems that
purport to be (and sometimes truly are, when not Daumer originals) from every corner of Europe. The poem describes the
contemplation of a picture of a beautiful girlas in Taminos aria Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schn from The Magic
Flute, or the Intermezzo (Dein Bildnis wunderselig) from Schumanns Eichendorff Liederkreis. For the accompaniment
Brahms favours soft chords in the bass clef to signify hidden depths of emotion, or quavers that sidle up and down the
stave, rocking reverently between the hands and hugging the vocal line as if the singer, feasting on the depicted beauty, can
scarcely bear to tear his eyes away from such a satisfying sight. In the central verse (Herr mein Gott) there are huntinghorn motifs in thirds and sixths; these add an outdoor note to music that otherwise seems candle-lit, or they may well refer
obliquely to the joys of the chase. It is now the hunter who appears to be caught in a trap and who must submissively yield
to his fate. With the exception of a passage in the middle of the song (Uns zu Jammer und zu Qual) which is marked
forte, the music is soft and ingratiating, lost in tender contemplation. As befits music of central-European inspiration there
is a more than a tinge of resignation, even pessimism in this music, and this despite the major key. The combination of
bright eyes and smouldering good looks brings on a mixture of contained elation and runaway depression, as if to ask, as
the postlude descends into the depths of the bass clef, what is the use of all this beauty if it can never be mine?

9 Die Schale der Vergessenheit

34

The chalice of oblivion

Op 46 No 3. Probably composed in Bonn in the summer of 1868 (but, according to Kalbeck, already composed by spring 1864); published in October 1868.
E major (original key), Lebhaft, doch nicht zu rasch

Eine Schale des Stroms, welcher Vergessenheit


Durch Elysiums Blumen rollt,
Bring, o Genius, bring deinem Verschmachtenden!
Dort, wo Phaon die Sngerin,
Dort, wo Orpheus verga seiner Eurydike,
Schpf den silbernen Schlummerquell!
Ha! dann tauch ich dein Bild, sprde Gebieterin,
Und die lchelnde Lippe voll
Lautenklanges, des Haars schattige Wallungen,
Und das Beben der weien Brust,
Und den siegenden Blick, der mir im Marke zuckt,
Tauch ich tief in den Schlummerquell.

A chalice of that stream which rolls


Oblivion through Elysiums flowers
Bestow it on him who languishes for love, O guardian spirit!
There, where the poetess forgot Phaon,
There, where Orpheus forgot his Eurydice,
Draw water from the silver springs of sleep!
Ah! I shall then immerse your image, coy mistress,
And your smiling lips brimming
With lute music, and your hairs shadowy waves,
And the heaving of your white breast,
And the conquering gaze that pierces my frame
I shall immerse them deep in the springs of sleep!

LUDWIG HEINRICH CHRISTOPH HLTY (17481776)

One hears this song very seldom in the concert hall. Brahms himself was convinced it was a failure until the great baritone
Stockhausen sang it to the composer one morning and persuaded him to publish it after all; it thus belongs to that group of
songs that need sympathetic performance, and this despite the fact that Eric Sams asserts that the complex construction of
this music shows Brahms at his finest.

14

Forgetfulness, and the draught from Lethe that enables oblivion, is the merciful release offered in the underworld to those
souls who would otherwise remain tormented and ensnared by their earthly obsessions. The Genius mentioned in the
poem is the friendly guardian spirit who will have the good grace to supply the necessary beverage. The cup or chalice that
contains these healing waters is thus a very desirable and useful object for those on earth who find themselves tormented
by a love that refuses to be extinguished, however hopeless it may be. The poet accordingly calls for this Schale der
Vergessenheit, and the liquid it contains, to effect his own cure. Classical allusions abound here: Phaon is the handsome
boatman of Lesbos with whom Sappho was supposedly in love to the point of suicide; the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice
is a better-known example of a doomed, yet enduring, attachment. Both of these stories would have come to Hlty from
Ovid, from the Herodes and Metamorphoses respectively. The poet compares his enslavement to his own coy mistress to
the plight of these classical characters who have died while in thrall to their passions. Until they have been handed the
chalice that contains the waters that will bring longed-for oblivion, they will remain in torment; but having consumed this
drink, their souls will be able to enjoy the endless felicity of Elysium. This absolution would seem to necessitate an initial
visit to the UnderworldLethe, pace Hltys opening assertion, runs through hell rather than heavenbefore progressing
to more salubrious living quarters upstairs. For the gods we must believe anything is possible.
Brahmss musical solution to this poem, complex in every way, including metrically, is impassioned and turbulent. If he is
writing water music to illustrate the poems opening imagery, the stream is made to roll and thunder through Elysium, but
perhaps the composer is concentrating instead on the intensity of the poets desperation. If this loose-limbed poem in
classical metre is to work as a musical entity it has to be welded into one piece by the composers will-power. The righthand triplets appear to be shuddering tremolos, while the insistent ED sharp in the bass for four bars (ES in German
notation) are the initials of Elisabet von Stockhausen (later Herzogenberg) on whom the composer had a crush
seemingly unsuitable and obsessional if Hltys poem provides a hidden clue to the situation. And here we perhaps
uncover the real grounds for withholding the song from publication.
The second section of the song (Dort, wo Phaon die Sngerin) is marked poco animato with a change of key from
E major to A flat. At this speed we scarcely notice that the inessential word den has been assigned an entire dotted minim.
At Ha! dann tauch ich dein Bild we revert to E major (and thus shuddering triplets) with an added animato to give the
song an even stronger forward thrust as the poet goes into physical details regarding his uncooperative mistress. The
song does not end with the poet imbibing the draught from Lethe; instead he chooses to dip his beloveds hair and breasts,
as well as her conquering gaze (or the idea of them at least), in the river. The pianists triplets, less hectic now, collaborate
in this ritual submersion in search of quietus. The poco sostenuto eight bars from the end, and the unalloyed E major of
the postlude, suggest that this ploy has achieved the required result without Hlty having to quaff the sulphurous waters
that would have killed him if he had not been already dead. But what a tempestuous journey between heaven and hell it
has been!

15

FNF LIEDER FR EINE SINGSTIMME UND KLAVIER Op 49


Published in November 1868

bl Am Sonntag Morgen

On Sunday 2morning

Op 49 No 1. Probably composed in Bonn in the summer of 1868. E minor (original key),

Am Sonntag Morgen, zierlich angetan,


Wohl wei ich, wo du da bist hingegangen,
Und manche Leute waren, die dich sahn,
Und kamen dann zu mir, dich zu verklagen.
Als sie mirs sagten, hab ich laut gelacht,
Und in der Kammer dann geweint zur Nacht.
Als sie mirs sagten, fing ich an zu singen,
Um einsam dann die Hnde wund zu ringen.

4 Andante espressivo

On Sunday morning, in your dainty clothes,


I know very well where you were going,
And there were many people who saw you,
And then came to me to denounce you.
When they told me, I laughed out loud,
Only to cry in my bedroom at night.
When they told me, I began to sing,
Only to wring my hands sore when alone.

ITALIAN FOLK POEM, translated by PAUL HEYSE (18301914)

It is good to be reminded that Brahms appreciated the charm of Heyses Italienisches


Liederbuch some twenty-three years before Hugo Wolf discovered the same collection.
In this masterpiece-in-miniature, Brahms anticipates the psychological depths and
perceptions that have made Wolfs settings so famous. The question arises as to
whether it is a man or woman who sings this lyric; singers of both sexes have recorded
the song from Ameling to Kipnis, Flagstad to Schlusnuss, and lovers of both sexes are
capable of betrayal. On balance it is perhaps more likely that a woman, rather than a
man, would be zierlich angetan; the broad and bluff setting of laut gelacht followed
by tears in private has something mannish about it, while the aggressively brave face
presented to the world of fing ich an zu singen suggests masculine bravado. Of course
singers and pianists can find ways of turning these gender characteristics on their
heads, but it does seem likely that this is a pretty girl, prettily dressed, who is on her
way to visit her new boyfriend, that the whole village is aware of the fact, and that the
jilted lover must hide his humiliation. Malcolm MacDonald suggests that Clara
Schumanns affair with the young composer Theodor Kirchner, a well-kept secret on
paper, in terms of gossip perhaps less so, might have been the reason why Brahms
poured so much of himself into this music.
The opening crotchets, both accented, point a finger of accusation. The mezzo staccato
The cover, blue cloth and gilt, of Heyses
vocal line and well-paced thirds alternating in the accompaniment suggest ordered
Italienisches Liederbuch
daintiness. She is shamelessly going to visit her new paramour in her church clothes!
Later the same articulation, on tiptoe as it were, indicates covert observation, as if from behind a curtain, and information
passed surreptitiously from person to person. At Als sie mirs sagten the music is marked animato and suddenly the
secret is out in the open, if not the young mans anguished response which, for shame, he keeps behind closed doors. In
the meantime he pretends not to care one way or the other. The contrast between the seemingly unconcerned fing ich an
16

zu singen in C major, and the highly strung chromaticism of die Hnde wund zu ringen is masterly. Everything about
small-town life in an imaginary Italy is here encapsulated: outward respectability, jealousy, the saving of face, as well as an
exaggerated and quick-fire emotional reaction to even a whiff of anything untoward. The whole thing could be wild
supposition; whatever the gossips have come to tell this young man, the young lady may be visiting her uncle, a priest in
the next village, and innocent of any impropriety. But this is a misunderstanding perhaps to be resolved in another of these
wonderful picture-postcard Tuscan rispetti. Without such dramas how dull life would be!

bm An ein Veilchen

To a violet 6

Op 49 No 2. Probably composed in Bonn in the summer of 1868. E major (original key),

Birg, o Veilchen, in deinem blauen Kelche,


Birg die Trnen der Wehmut, bis mein Liebchen
Diese Quelle besucht! Entpflckt sie lchelnd
Dich dem Rasen, die Brust mit dir zu schmcken;
O, dann schmiege dich ihr ans Herz, und sag ihr,
Da die Tropfen in deinem blauen Kelche
Aus der Seele des treusten Jnglings flossen,
Der sein Leben verweinet, und den Tod wnscht!

8 Andante

Hide, O violet, in your blue calyx,


Hide the tears of sorrow, till my beloved
Visits this spring! Should she then with a smile
Pluck you from the grass to adorn her breast;
Ah, then nestle close to her heart and tell her
That the drops in your blue calyx
Were shed from the soul of her most faithful young lover,
Who weeps away his life and longs for death!

LUDWIG HEINRICH CHRISTOPH HLTY (17481776)

The Italian theme continues undercover in the next song of the opus; Hltys poem is loosely based on Sonetto XIV by
Giovanni Battista Zappi (16671719), beginning O Violetta bella, che ti stai / Tra foglia e foglia infra la molle erbetta.
As with all his other Hlty settings, Brahms uses the 1804 edition of the poems which contains the editorial adjustments
of J H Voss. The general consensus of scholars today is that Hlty, who died young, did not need to be rescued by his
contemporaries and that the original poems are fresher than the edited versions. The nineteenth century, however, did
not see it that way.
On this occasion Brahms chooses to ignore the eleven-syllable metre that governs the eight highly polished lines of Hltys
poem; this allows him to repeat words and phrases, if not exactly with impunity, then with a musical hand freed of
inhibition. We are so swept away with the delight and delicacy of this music that we scarcely notice that the poet has written
a highly polished classical ode. A glance at the printed poem above will show the listener that Brahmss musical shape is
rather different from Hltysthe way the composer has constructed his song suggests an entirely different versification.
The tempo is Andante, but once the accompanying semiquavers have begun to flutter between the hands like butterflies
creating a shimmer of sound, the impression is not of a slow song. The composers original marking of Andante con moto
(the con moto was deleted at proof stage) would have run the risk of introducing a hectoring note into performances. In
the third bar a genuinely touching melody appears, offset from these pianistic murmurings like violets peeping out from
their surrounding foliage (Schuberts Nachtviolen comes to mind), or like a linked constellation of stars pricked out in the
heavens.
By the time we reach the words Diese Quelle besucht! at the top of the second page, the riddle of this allusive
accompaniment is explained: this is of course water music (the beloved is visiting a spring) and Brahmss means of
depicting the gentle bubbling of water is worthy of Schubert, who was the absolute master of water music in all its shapes
17

and forms. The patterns that govern the greatest accompaniments are capable of variation and versatility and thus it is no
surprise that at the words Entpflckt sie lchelnd the crisp and decisive gesture of plucking a flower is also appropriate to
the texture of this piano-writing (if it is not over pedalled), and that the music seems to smile effortlessly at the same time
as the beloved does so. Once the lucky violet adorns her breast the vicariously excited poet exhorts it to nestle ever closer to
his ladys heart. For this undercover task the accompaniment changes: chords are tenderly pressed between the hands in
9
syncopated alternation, the music overflows into 8, and the airy delicacy of the opening has been supplanted by something
more urgently erotic. The rising sequence of dich ihr ans Herz set twice is giddily ecstatic. Und sag ihr signposts and
heralds the message consigned to the flower in its new role as the lovers spokesman with privileged access. A small
interlude allows the poet to collect himself, as if he needs time to get his overexcited thoughts into order and find exactly
the right words. These intervening bars also facilitate a gracious and perfectly timed return to E major. At Da die Tropfen
in deinem blauen Kelche (the beginning of the communication the violet is charged to deliver) the accompaniment is the
same and yet not the same; those familiar E major harmonies are recycled in a less bubbly texture that glows in the dark
rather than shimmers in sunlight. The beloved is to be informed that the dew-bedecked violet is really the repository of the
poets tears. The songs final page winds down, the music receding into itself, as if the flower were withering and dying, but
it is the poet who has a death wish and he talks of his passing (with a marvellous tonal shift on the first appearance of the
word Tod). Is this a threat or the manipulative tugging of heartstrings? We are reminded that the poem is Italian and
something like a rispetto: the whole of this floral conceit is Zappis roundabout and exaggerated way of praising the
beloveds beauty and of telling her he cant live without heruntil the next girl comes along. The surprise is that such an
idea, not particularly original, should have been taken so seriously by Brahms and inspired from him such an out-and-out
masterpiece.

bn Sehnsucht

Longing

Op 49 No 3. Probably composed in Bonn in the summer of 1868. A flat major (original key),

Hinter jenen dichten Wldern


Weilst du, meine Sgeliebte,
Weit, ach weit! Weit, ach weit!
Berstet ihr Felsen,
Ebnet euch Tler,
Da ich ersehe,
Da ich ersphe
Meine ferne, se Maid!

24 Langsam

Behind those dense forests


You dwell, my sweet love,
Far, ah far! far, ah far away!
Burst, you rocks,
Rise up, you valleys,
That I might glimpse,
That I might behold
My sweet, far distant maiden!

TRADITIONAL BOHEMIAN, translated by JOSEF WENZIG (18071876)

This strange and demanding song is seldom performed. It is divided into two distinct sections each of which seems almost
eccentrically exaggerated in terms of expression. The excuse for this is of course the literary provenance of the text, Josef
Wenzigs Westslavischer Mrchenschatz. One of the purposes of Brahmss introducing such folksong-derived poetry into
his song composing life was, as he saw it, to shake up the genteel refinements of an art form stuck perennially in the
bookish and upper middle class grooves of Goethe, Schiller or Eichendorff on the one hand, and post-Heinean sentimental
salon effusions on the other. Poetry of the Wenzig variety was authentic new blood, and if the result was sometimes songs
18

that were clumsy or awkward, larger than life, or even emotional in a confrontational
wayso be it! This Sehnsucht is a far more violent and potentially destructive emotion
than we usually encounter in the German song repertoire.
The opening has an accompaniment of widely spaced left-hand crotchets which initiate
in the right the second and third notes of equally widely ranging triplets. This is
definitely rustic music with rough edges, restless even within the Langsam tempo.
Perhaps it is meant to suggest the hard physical work associated with peasants, like
bending and digging, or perhaps even ploughing. In the wake of the ponderous steps in
the bass clef, the right hand etches furrows in the stave with insistent determination as
if the pianist were some kind of Slavic Paul Bunyan. The singer complains of how far
away he is from his beloved and the repeated phrase Weit, ach weit! expands into a
bar of four beats that is expressive of this heartbreaking distance. The final phrase on
the first page is crowned by a high A flat that resonates in an emotional void before
falling to a D natural. Eric Sams notes wryly that this will be far too ostentatious for
some tastes, and it is true that such music would not be out of place in an opera aria
by an Eastern European composer. We are left dangling on a B flat 7 in third inversion
as an upbeat to a new section.
Encouraged by the word Berstet (burst) and with a Lebhaft direction, thundering
The title page of Wenzigs
Westslavischer Mrchenschatz (1857)
right-hand triplets in the piano provide a bulwark between a vocal line that swoops
down the stave, threatening destruction, and a left hand in octaves that confronts the
voice head-on in contrary motion. No stone will be left unturned in the search for this ferne, se Maid!; valleys are to be
exalted, if necessary, and mountains and hills made low. In pianistic terms this is by far Brahmss most Lisztian song (the
fast sections of that composers Es war ein Knig in Thule come to mind), including the clichs of the accompanying
triplets that now throb exultantly, if somewhat predictably, to the end of the piece. All pretence at the niceties of the Lieder
tradition are more or less abandoned in favour of the robust kind of vocal writing, with ad hoc repetitions, that Brahms
clearly believes is appropriate for an Eastern European at the end of his tether; it takes an imaginative leap into the future
to realize that the sudden and explosive passion unleashed in this music, with its shuddering triplets and high-wire
vocalism, would much later feature in the operas of Jancek; this music strives to capture the temperament of a character
who might have come from such an opera, without possessing a trace of that composers originality. The postlude (marked
crescendo, stringendo) must certainly rank among the most banal bars ever penned by Brahms for the piano. It is all as if
he were attempting to find a new way of setting poetry of this kind, but during the experiment he lost rather too much of
his own authorial voice. In setting folksong texts he was soon to master such challenges with much greater success.
v

19

bo Wiegenlied

Lullaby

Op 49 No 4. Probably composed in Bonn in the summer of 1868. F major (original key),

Guten Abend, gut Nacht,


Mit Rosen bedacht,
Mit Nglein besteckt
Schlupf unter die Deck.
Morgen frh, wenn Gott will,
Wirst du wieder geweckt.
Guten Abend, gut Nacht,
Von Englein bewacht!
Die zeigen im Traum
Dir Christkindleins Baum:
Schlaf nun selig und s,
Schau im Traums Paradies.

34 Zart bewegt

Good evening, good night,


Canopied with roses,
Bedecked with carnations,
Slip beneath the coverlet.
Tomorrow morning, if God wills,
You shall be woken again.
Good evening, good night,
Watched over by angels!
In your dreams theyll show you
The Christmas Tree:
Sleep sweetly now and blissfully,
Behold Paradise in your dreams.

ANONYMOUS verse 1; GEORG SCHERER (18281909) verse 2

It would be hard to imagine a more different song to follow the overwrought Sehnsucht of Op 49 No 3, and one of many
indications that Brahms did not have a subtly interconnecting programme in mind when preparing these songs for
publication under the umbrella of a single opus number. If Opus 49 is to receive a complete performance by a single
singer, as it does here, that singer has to be male on account of the text of No 3. (No 1 is a male text also, as is No 2,
although this has never prevented women from singing either song.) Wiegenlied, on the other hand, a reflection of parental
devotion, is almost always sung by female singers and a male performance makes for an interesting change. Brahms never
composed a more famous song, or one that exerts a permanently tenacious hold on the public imagination: Brahms
Cradle Song, a poem from Wendy Copes recent Family Values (2011), begins: Ive heard it on the radio / Twice this
week It has been subjected to so many awful arrangements that one can forget what a peerless masterpiece it is, with a
tonic pedal appearing on the first beat and hypnotically sustained for thirty-six bars. The poem for the first verse is age old
with a provenance that goes back to Des Knaben Wunderhorn and beyond; the second derives from Scherers Die
schnsten deutschen Volkslieder, adapted by Brahms to fit the music. The song was written for the happy use of Bertha
Faber, ne Porubsky, on the birth of her second child. She was a Viennese girl who had joined Brahmss choir in Hamburg
at the age of seventeen and who had remained friendly with the composer when he moved to Vienna in 1862. In Hamburg
she had delighted him with performances of popular songs in dialect, including one by Alexander Baumann, Op 3 No 1,
for soprano and tenor duet; this had a lilting refrain in oscillating thirds set to the words Du moanst wol, du moanst wol, /
Di Liab last si zwinga. Wiegenlied, especially the introductory bars, is derived from that happy memory, a fragment of
musical nostalgia recycled by Brahms in a way that was entirely typical of his way of showing affection, his attraction to the
young mother sublimated in unobtrusive technical musical mastery.

20

bp Abenddmmerung

Dusk

Op 49 No 5. Probably composed in Bonn in the summer of 1868. E major (original key),

Sei willkommen, Zwielichtstunde!


Dich vor allen lieb ich lngst,
Die du, lindernd jede Wunde,
Unsre Seele mild umfngst.
Hin durch deine Dmmerhelle
In den Lften, abendfeucht,
Schweben Bilder, die der grelle
Schein des lauten Tags gescheucht.
Trume und Erinnerungen
Nahen aus der Kinderzeit,
Flstern mit den Geisterzungen
Von vergangner Seligkeit.
Und zu Jugendlust-Genossen
Kehren wir ins Vaterhaus;
Arme, die uns einst umschlossen,
Breiten neu sich nach uns aus.
Nach dem Trennungsschmerz, dem langen,
Drfen wir noch einmal nun
Denen, die dahingegangen,
Am geliebten Herzen ruhn,
Und, indes zum Augenlide
Sanft der Schlummer niederrint,
Sinkt auf uns ein selger Friede
Aus dem Land, wo Jene sind.

34 Ruhig

I bid you welcome, twilight hour!


Long have I loved you best of all,
You who, soothing every wound,
Tenderly enfold our soul.
There amid your dusky brightness,
In the breezes moist with evening,
Hover visions that were banished
By the garish light of loud day.
Dreams and memories
Draw near from childhood days,
Whispering with ghostly tongues
Of vanished rapture.
And we return to our paternal home
And youthful joys companions;
Arms that once embraced us
Reach out to us again.
After the long pain of parting
We can now, once more,
Rest on the beloved hearts
Of those who have passed away,
And, while sleep flows softly
Down into our eyes,
A blessed peace descends on us
From that land where they abide.

ADOLF FRIEDRICH VON SCHACK (18151894)

Any pianist on encountering this song for the first time will notice that the undulating thirds in the key of E major bear
an uncanny resemblance to those that accompany Soave sia il vento, sung by Fiordiligi, Dorabella and Don Alfonso in
Mozarts Cos fan tutte. The sixth line of Schacks lyric (in the poems second strophe) refers to moist evening breezes, but
the connection between Schack and the Da Ponte trio in E major goes further than this single image: Schack promises joy
after the long sorrow of separation, a blessed peace that descends from heaven; Da Ponte with his gentles breezes and
waves promises an equally benign outcome. After a long journey, we are told, all will surely turn out for the best.
Another rather less likely composer also comes to mind. The opening seven bars are a gentle moto perpetuo with clearly
defined part-writing and an extended bass pedal; we might also imagine the participation of woodwind and strings. When
the voice in quasi-instrumental fashion initiates its welcome to the twilight hour (Sei willkommen, Zwielichtstunde!) it
dovetails effortlessly with the continuing sinfonia, each strand of the intensifying texture independent, and yet codependent, exactly as in a cantata by J S Bach. The syncopation across the barline of Zwielicht strikes an eerily baroque
21

note. With mighty musical ghosts such as these presiding at the birth of Abenddmmerung it is clear that Brahms took the
song very seriously indeed. Whatever his own religious convictions, or lack of them, he treats Schacks poem as a kind of
religious homily and without a hint of cynicism.
Once the tempo is established the song glides along on predestined rails. We realize that it is meant to signify a
remembered journey, the journey of an entire lifetime, and then another Mozartian resonance comes to mindthe song
Abendempfindung, of which Abenddmmerung is a Brahmsian equivalent, the gathering together of evening thoughts in
preparation for the souls onward journey. There is no room here for romanticized variations of tempo and gratuitous
rubato, although the disruption of seraphic certainty is planned for later in the setting. For the poems second verse the
plush Cos fan tutte undulations are temporarily replaced by rising semiquaver arpeggios shared between the hands, but
this is only for four bars.
It is only at verse 4 (Und zu Jugendlust-Genossen) that there is a change of key-signature (from four to three sharps).
Brahms cannot resist replacing the smooth mechanisms of near-pastiche with music entirely his owntrademark
hemiolas and trompe-loreille conflict between voice and accompaniment where four crotchets worth of semiquavers in
every bar seem to turn into six disorientating groups of triplets. This A major section incorporates two searching verses of
poetry; aided by the marking sempre un poco animato, this music provides the necessary turbulence and sense of striving
to break the almost monotonous security of the eighteenth-century-inspired pulse that has so far driven the song
ineluctably forward. Clara Schumann did not like this passage and made it clear to Brahms that she preferred the E major
section. But it is a necessary foil, a moment of struggle (a musical metaphor for passing though the various tribulations of
life itself) that must be endured and surmounted in order to give any significant meaning to the resolution of the final
verse. When this arrives we return to the safe certainties of those wonderful thirds in E major; it is as if a ship, hitherto in
danger, has reached the safety of port at last. And this reminds us once again of Cos fan tutte and of a trio where angels
could not have provided more seraphic part-writing and greater melodic and harmonic felicities.
There is no mention of God in Schacks poem, so the agnostic, even atheist, Brahms is not to be accused of hypocrisy; after
all, themes of remembered childhood and lasting love were always dear to him. Nevertheless, the placing of this setting in a
kind of stylized baroque frame could serve as the composers defence against criticism for writing a song that describes the
afterlife. The evocation of Bach-like certainties plus the blessing of an extra-terrestrial Mozart, make of this piece an oblique
homage to two great composers and the unquestioning pieties of the past. One also senses how deeply Brahms might have
wished to have lived in an age when an unshakeable belief in such fairytale endings was shared by everyone as a matter of
course.

bq Mein wundes Herz verlangt

My wounded heart

Op 59 No 7. Composed in the spring of 1873 in Vienna and Ttzing; published in December 1873. E minorE major (original key), c Bewegt

Mein wundes Herz verlangt nach milder Ruh,


O hauche sie ihm ein!
Es fliegt dir weinend, bange schlagend zu
O hlle du es ein!

My wounded heart craves gentle peace,


Oh! breathe such peace into it!
It flies to you, weeping and beating anxiously
Oh! enfold it in your arms!

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Wie wenn ein Strahl durch schwere Wolken bricht,


So winkest du ihm zu:
O lchle fort mit deinem milden Licht!
Mein Pol, mein Stern bist du!

As when a sunbeam pierces heavy cloud,


So you beckon to my heart:
Oh! let your gentle light shine on!
You are my pole, you are my star!

KLAUS GROTH (18191899)

The search for cooling balm to assuage a wounded heart is a familiar and important theme in the songs of Brahms
(cf another Groth setting, Dein blaues Auge). Mein wundes Herz verlangt is not one of the better Groth poems, but its
appeal to the composer seems to be personal: these words clearly mean something special to him, or there is something
in the verbal imagery that moves him to this unusual music. Broken chords are adopted as an apt analogue for a broken
heart. This is especially evident in the four-bar prelude which is both rich in chromatic harmony and austere in terms of
the solitary broken sixths in the bass clef that seems both punitive and cruelly exposed. This strangely gestural motif is
rendered even more perverse and lopsided by sforzati on the fourth quaver of bars 2 and 3, the least expected place for an
4
accent in 4.
The words Mein wundes Herz are first heard unaccompanied; the wound is open for all to see and hear. As the vocal line
continues, ascending the stave on the word verlangt, the pianists left hand plays the vocal melody we have just heard, but
in quavers rather than crotchets. It is as if a wound were being dressed, rather too late for comfort, with a self-protective
gauze of counterpoint. This did not stick with Hugo Wolf, one of Brahmss sternest critics, who took this kind of technical
display as a sure sign of emotional impotence. Nevertheless, a master craftsman is clearly at work: strands of voice and
piano are (almost) fugally entwined and separated, then entwined again in contrary motion or mirror image, but what has
a wounded heart to do with canons and imitation in diminution and augmentation? Why is it, as Eric Sams brilliantly puts
it, that the heart swells and contracts, in a typical diastole and systole of longing and assuagement, expressed by deliberate
artifice, as well as unselfconscious artistry of the highest order?
The answer is that this is a perfect illustration of an essential Brahmsian paradox: the hurt heart and the contrapuntal
brain (Sams again) follow one another in strict canon. The composer was heart-injured, seemingly as a child; the infinite
extent of his pain and lack of self-esteem on a personal level was counterpointed by hard-won technical mastery in music
with which no one else could compete. Self-abasement and professional grandiosity went hand in hand in a famously
prickly personality. If he believed he was unlovable for himself, he knew he was revered for his musicthe technical
resources of which were his refuge, raison dtre and, on occasion, his protective carapace. In building a cupola of technical
wizardry around the raw and exposed vocal line of this song, Brahms somehow softens, if not neutralizes, the pain to
which words and feelings such as these are attached. Listening to music lightens the heart, but creating it can be a healing
processsomething Schubert also understood. The modulation into the major key for O lchle fort mit deinem milden
Licht! has a Schubertian magic, and although the closing words of this poem are in praise of a beloved woman, in this
instance they seem addressed to music itself, surely Brahmss pole and star. His technical mastery, far from being the arid
posturing condemned by Wolf, brings him, time and again, into the presence of the Muse who loves him unconditionally. If
Mein wundes Herz verlangt were a covert, or even unconscious, An die Musik, it would be one of many instances when
Brahms, master of self-concealment, requires us to read between the lines.
23

br Im Garten am Seegestade

In the garden by the shore

Op 70 No 1. Composed in Vienna in February 1877; published in July 1877. G minor (original key), c Traurig, doch nicht zu langsam

Im Garten am Seegestade
Uralte Bume stehn,
In ihren hohen Kronen
Sind kaum die Vgel zu sehn.
Die Bume mit hohen Kronen,
Die rauschen Tag und Nacht,
Die Wellen schlagen zum Strande,
Die Vglein singen sacht.
Das gibt ein Musizieren
So s, so traurig bang,
Als wie verlorner Liebe
Und ewiger Sehnsucht Sang.

In the garden by the shore


Ancient trees are standing,
In their high canopies
The birds can scarce be seen.
The trees with high canopies
Rustle day and night,
The waves beat against the shore,
The little birds sing softly.
The music they make
Is so sweet, so full of sad foreboding,
Like the song of lost love
And endless longing.

KARL LEMCKE (18311913)

The poetry of Lemcke here evokes the world of nature, and then music, in the manner
of Eichendorff, and this is one of those songs where the Lieder lineage that connects
Schumann and Brahms seems especially clear. In one of the most fecund periods of
his career the composer seems content to dream of the past, including his old passion
for Schumanns widow. Clara herself adored this music (a song one can dream in), as
did Elisabet von Herzogenberg.
The introduction has a rainbow of crotchets descending the stave in evenly spaced
thirds; Brahms has known how to make magic out of such a simple motif since the
Andante espressivo movement of his Piano Sonata in F minor Op 5. In this song
contrary-motion mezzo staccato quavers ascend in the left hand. This conjunction
of articulation with the help of the pedal produces the impression of sea mist,
unmentioned but implied by the poet. This veil of sound obscures the birds at the top
of the trees, shrouding them in mystery, and blurs the contour of old emotions that
have been softened and changed by time. This is a song full of apt illustration: as soon
as the branches of the trees begin to move in the breeze, left-hand duplets quicken into
triplets; the buffeting of waves in the piano-writing at Die Wellen schlagen zum
Strande is effortlessly suggested between the hands. Tangible pictures such as these are
only part of the charm of a song that is largely impressionistic: after Die Vglein singen
The title page of Lemckes
sacht the evocation of birdsong in single syncopated notes in the pianists right
Lieder und Gedichte (1861)
handF and then F sharpis a heartbreaking and exquisite pre-echo of the avian
aria in Debussys En sourdine and Colloque sentimental (Ftes galantes I and II). After this dreaming and drifting
interlude the two hands of the pianist are brought together in organized ensemble at Das gibt ein Musizieren; this signifies
the making of musica gathering of resources whereby trees, waves and birds are coordinated into chorus.
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In the Debussy songs the poet Verlaine specifies a nightingale. One suspects that, in his minds eye, Brahms has placed this
seaside vignette in the early evening, and that the bird he has in mind is indeed a nightingale, harbinger of unrequited or
unhappy love; neither of these facts are part of the poem, but Brahms excels in the creation of a rich contextual palimpsest.
The result is a small masterpiece that is both vivid and immediate, very much of the present, while wreathed in the sea
mists of nostalgia and regret.

bs Lerchengesang

Larks song

Op 70 No 2. Composed in Vienna in March 1877; published in July 1877. B major (original key), c alla breve, Andante espressivo

therische ferne Stimmen,


Der Lerchen himmlische Gre,
Wie regt ihr mir so se
Die Brust, ihr lieblichen Stimmen!
Ich schliee leis mein Auge,
Da ziehn Erinnerungen
In sanften Dmmerungen,
Durchweht vom Frhlingshauche.

Ethereal distant voices,


Heavenly greetings of the larks,
How sweetly you stir
My breast, you delightful voices!
Gently I close my eyes,
And memories pass by
In soft twilights,
Pervaded by the breath of spring.

KARL AUGUST CANDIDUS (18171872)

In the wake of the Franco-Prussian War Brahms was taken by the patriotic verses of Karl Candidus, although he preferred
to set to music the more gentle lyrics of this Alsatian poet who became a Protestant minister in Odessa and died in the
Crimea. Candidus, like Lemke, seems to have released in Brahms a passing fondness for a musical style that might be
termed impressionistic. Lerchengesang is highly prized by those who find a great deal of the more intense Brahms heavy
and stodgy. Here the composer seems infinitely relaxed. He has nothing to prove, nothing to underline; he seems refreshed,
released even, by Candiduss old-fashioned nostalgia. The ethereal music of the introduction seems related to the windmusic of the Aeolian harp; there is something disembodied about the yearning sequences in the right hand as the pianist
tentatively essays the stretch of a tenth, a physical metaphor for reaching out to touch the unattainableperhaps in
an attempt to crystallize half-forgotten memories.
After four bars of this other-worldly introduction, Brahms allows the unaccompanied vocal line to float free (albeit still
measured in triplets) as if a lark were drifting in stratospheric currents of air. Two bars of birdsong dovetail with two
bars of piano music; for a good deal of the time the pianists hands (as in An eine olsharfe) are permitted to disport
themselves in the airier regions of the treble clef. At Wie regt ihr mir so se the left hands supporting quavers add a
note of nurture, as if weaving, far beneath the avian songsters, a safety net that enables the vocal triplets to weave their
untrammelled way through the heavens. If these birds and their voices are lost in the ethereal void, the thoughts of the
singer are lost with them.
The interlude between the two musical strophes (each taking four lines of the poem) is a subtly varied version of the
introduction. The same applies to the songs second verse which at first sight appears to be a repeat of the first but which
is in fact different in many details. As the singer turns inward (Ich schliee leis mein Auge) the music of the larks is no
longer the songs primary focus, but it has set in train a moment of introspection both blissful and painful. The crystalline
sounds of the treble clef continue in the accompaniment but the vocal line is a third lower. In the first verse the music for
25

Der Lerchen himmlische Gre had delighted us; in the corresponding place in the second verse, the unaccompanied
tenderness of Da ziehn Erinnerungen seems infinitely sad, even without a hint of the minor key. This phrase is elongated
to include a poignant mention of twilight where the difference between the D sharp of the previous phrase and the D
natural that colours Dmmerungen draws a veil of sadness over the entire song. The hushed and elongated setting of
Frhlingshauche is a marvel; the long vowel of hauche that concludes the song is filled with airy secrets. Far above, the
larks continue their song into infinity; at first it seems the postlude will be allowed simply to melt away but the lowest note
of the piece has been reserved for the solemnity of the closing bar: in the breath of springtime renewal there is also
closure, an intimation of mortality.

bt Serenade

Serenade

Op 70 No 3. Composed in Vienna in May 1876 or possibly in the spring of 1875; published in July 1877. B major (original key),

Liebliches Kind,
Kannst du mir sagen,
Sagen warum
Einsam und stumm
Zrtliche Seelen
Immer sich qulen,
Selbst sich betrben
Und ihr Vergngen
Immer nur ahnen
Da, wo sie nicht sind;
Kannst du mirs sagen,
Liebliches Kind?

68 Grazioso

Lovely child,
Can you tell me,
Tell me why
Lonely and silent,
Sensitive souls
Always agonize,
Always grieve,
And feel theyd be happier
Anywhere than where
They actually are;
Can you tell me,
Lovely child?

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE (17491832)

This is a charming trifle of a song, pure and simple. But it is a Goethe setting and Brahms,
who composed only five solo Goethe songs, takes the text and its provenance seriously. The
lyric is from the Singspiel Claudine von Villa Bella, which Schubert set to music in 1815
(there is, unfortunately, only one surviving act). The genial bandit-chief Rugantino
(Crugantino in another version of the play) sings a serenade to the two main female
characters, Lucinde (with whom he is enamoured) and the eponymous heroine Claudine.
The song is meant to communicate with both girls, a kind of double vision that Brahms
translates into music in a most unusual way: the opening words Liebliches is set to a
descending phrase of quaversD sharp, C sharp, B. At the distance of a dotted crotchet
the pianists right hand comments on this in canononce again, D sharp, C sharp, B
but this time in semiquavers and twice, albeit in adjoining octaves. This device, laborious
in explanation, winsome in effect, is applied throughout the first page of the song; one
Rugantino phrase in sung quavers is followed by the same notes played in diminution, two
little sets of semiquavers, one for each of the girls, all within the context of an ingenious
canon between voice and piano.
The title page of Goethes
Claudine von Villa Bella (1788)

26

The music is everything that is required, charming and ingratiating and somewhat condescending to the fairer sex in the
Italian manner, although this stems directly from Goethes playfully remonstrative text. For the final Kannst du mirs sagen
(the songs final ten bars) the nature of the canon changes: two sets of semiquavers in the piano-writing are replaced by a
more straightforward mirroring of the vocal quavers by pianistic ones at the distance of a bar: it is as if Rugantino has now
focused his attentions on the one girl, Lucinde, who really interests him. There is no surviving Schubert setting of this text,
but Brahms must have known the setting of these words, one of a collection of Serenaden, by Beethovens teacher
Christian Gottlieb Neefe (17481798). It is from Neefe that Brahms has taken the title of the song, Serenade, and not
Serenate as printed in the Peters edition. There are also two settings by Johann Friedrich Reichardt, and much later ones
by Bruch and Medtner.

bu An den Mond

To the moon2

Op 71 No 2. Composed in March 1877; published in August 1877. B minor (original key),

Silbermond mit bleichen Strahlen


Pflegst du Wald und Feld zu malen,
Gibst den Bergen, gibst den Talen
Der Empfindung Seufzer ein.
Sei Vertrauter meiner Schmerzen,
Segler in der Lfte See:
Sag ihr, die ich trag im Herzen,
Wie mich ttet Liebesweh.
Sag ihr, ber tausend Meilen
Sehne sich mein Herz nach ihr.
Keine Ferne kann es heilen,
Nur ein holder Blick von dir.
Sag ihr, da zu Tod getroffen
Diese Hlle bald zerfllt;
Nur ein schmeichlerisches Hoffen
Seis, das sie zusammenhlt.

4 Nicht zu langsam und mit Anmut

Silver moon, with pale rays


You paint both wood and field,
Imbue mountains and valleys
With sighs of longing.
Be the confidant of my sorrows,
You who sail over the sea of space;
Tell her, whom I carry in my heart,
How the pangs of love are killing me.
Tell her that across a thousand miles
My heart yearns for her.
No distance can heal it,
Only a loving look from you.
Tell her that this frame of mine,
Stricken to death, will soon decay;
May a single flattering hope
Hold it together.

KARL JOSEPH SIMROCK (18021876)

Music in praise of the moon is usually diaphanous and atmospheric, as transparent as a beam of light. The fragility of the
Brahms song Mondenschein to a Heine text is a case in point. Occasionally, however, this friendly satellite inspires a more
robust musical response, usually when the moon is addressed by an earthbound mortal. In Schuberts Seidl setting Der
Wanderer an den Mond the tramp of the traveller is built into the music, as well as his somewhat misanthropic view of
life, and he speaks to the moon (a masculine noun in German, feminine in French) man-to-man. Although it is not
intimated in the text, it is likely that this poem by Simrock, certainly not the finest poem that Brahms ever set, was also
meant to incorporate the determined trudge of someone unhappy who is making his way through a moonlit landscape.
Perhaps the pianos left-hand chords represent a guitar to indicate a serenade, whether stationary or ambulant.

27

Even if the singer is not on the move the moon is always adrift. The Bewegung
in triplets is prophetic of the Heine setting Meerfahrt, composed some seven
years lateran indication that Brahms imagines a ship at sea and the
moon in the heavens both wading through a similar watery lagoon, a
medium buoyant enough to encourage the rise and fall of triplets that
gently bob above and below the water line, viscous enough to produce
sonorous sixths in the middle of the pianono Clair de lune this!
Simrocks metre results in a succession of three-bar musical
phrases, one for each line of verse. The introduction to the whole
song is also a solo of three bars, rather than the symmetrical four.
This length of phrase is a continuing feature of the song and gives a
curious limp to the music, a feeling of being out of breath, as if the
singer were tired or disillusioned or at the end of his tether. Of course
this is exactly the case as we are soon to discover. After an interlude, the
traveller asks permission to confide his sorrows to his lunar friend (Sei
Vertrauter meiner Schmerzen). When there is clearly no answer from the
long-suffering moon (implied by the verbal silence of another three-bar
interlude) the narrator embarks on his fervent petition.
KARL SIMROCK
With Sag ihr, die ich trag im Herzen, the nub of the song, the triplets disappear
from the music and the atmosphere changes completely. We may have expected a
woebegone complaint from this traveller but Brahms supplies him instead with a declaration of love worthy of the beauty of
his lunar intermediary. The marking is dolce. In the piano-writing (beginning in F sharp major, the dominant of the home
key) there is a suggestion of distant muted hornsan evocation of the empty forests and the vast and peaceful terrain that
separate the poet from his lover, distances that would be easy for the moon to traverse as a messenger and go-between.
After this oasis of tranquillity the triplets reappear, a piano interlude that begins in G major and then reverts to B minor.
With Sag ihr, da zu Tod getroffen the voice takes up the triplet motif for the next six bars. A return of those distant horn
calls, now in G major (at Nur ein schmeichlerisches Hoffen), promises further peaceful reflection, but a shift to C major
(Seis, das sie zusammenhlt) and a heightened tessitura turns the screw in terms of anguish. These two lines of poetry
are then repeated even more ardently and desperately in B major. In the tenor of this writing the supplicant is no longer
contained and dignified, perhaps because he realizes that the moon is powerless, or unwilling, to accede to his request.
The eleven-bar postlude lavishly employs the materials of the opening, first to darker and more intense effect, and then
distancing and thinning out the music as the traveller, embittered and disappointed, disappears over the horizon. Unlike
Schuberts moonstruck traveller he has learned nothing that might lighten his heart.

28

cl In Waldeseinsamkeit

In woodland solitude

Op 85 No 6. Composed in Prtschach in May 1878; published in July 1882. B major (original key), c Langsam

Ich sa zu deinen Fen


In Waldeseinsamkeit;
Windesatmen, Sehnen
Ging durch die Wipfel breit.
In stummen Ringen senkt ich
Das Haupt in deinen Scho
Und meine bebenden Hnde
Um deine Knie ich schlo.
Die Sonne ging hinunter,
Der Tag verglhte all,
Ferne, ferne, ferne
Sang eine Nachtigall.

I sat at your feet


In woodland solitude;
A breath of wind, a yearning,
Moved through the broad tree-tops.
I lowered in silent struggle
My head into your lap,
And clasped my trembling hands
Around your knees.
The sun went down,
All daylight faded,
Far, far, far away
A nightingale sang.

KARL LEMCKE (18311913)

In this powerful masterpiece, as is often the case in Brahmss songs, we sense an autobiographical echo. Elisabet von
Herzogenberg wrote that it was born from a deep inward experience, as if she might have guessed from something
Brahms told her that it described a real incident. The song is closely related to Wir wandelten, composed six years later,
where Brahms once again described an emotional closeness, a twinning of souls, which transcends sexual inferences.
Admittedly, Waldeseinsamkeit describes physical proximitytrembling hands on the beloveds knee, a head in her lap
which might have led to a full-scale erotic encounter for the poet Lemcke. But the fact that Brahms, in publishing this song,
was prepared to share these long-internalized emotions with the rest of the world strongly suggests that there was no sexual
outcome, which is not to claim that the repression of his desire in favour of anguished chastity, in this instance at least, was
emotionally healthy. The poem probably stirred memories of a walking holiday shared by Clara and Johannes in Switzerland
in 1856; she was thirty-seven, and he a stripling of twenty-three. An album of lovingly labelled cut flowers (published in
1991 in a beautiful facsimile) was assembled by Clara and kept in memory of their time together. It would seem likely that
Clara might well have contemplated an affair at this time, and that this was seemingly impossible for Brahms.
The opening bar of piano prelude seems to suggest a diminution of light; the sun is setting and the forest fronds create a
sylvan oasis of repose. The slow-moving quavers of the accompaniment entwined with a heartbreakingly beautiful vocal line
suggest intimacy, complicity, a kind of rapture without contentment or quietus. The gently restless chromaticisms of senkt
ich / Das Haupt in deinen Scho allow for those small movements and adjustments while a comfortable nestling position
is found on the forest floor. It is then that suppressed desire and physical closeness engender potentially dangerous
electricity. Beyond mastery is the musical setting of the following passage (Und meine bebenden Hnde / Um deine Knie
ich schlo and the subsequent repeat of those lines) where three musical phrases follow each other, a semitone lower
each time, a subtle musical analogue for detumescence. Within this time-span physical temptation almost too hard to bear
is gradually mastered by a combination of fear, awe and will-power. Perhaps the singer has momentarily had his mind on
other parts of the body than the beloveds knees, but when he finally settles for these, renouncing all temptation, the
harmonic return to the F sharp major of the opening is like a ship coming safely, and unnoticed, into port, or the return
29

of a hero, unbesmirched and unannounced, who has survived every kind of trial. Or so the music powerfully implies.
Locked in this position for some minutes of speechless intimacy, this couple seems spiritually related to the lovers in En
sourdine (Verlaine, Debussy, Faur), who find the sadness of their love contained within the shadows of the branches that
shelter their outdoor idyll.
The final strophe of the song unfolds within this moment of speechless intimacy. The music, a recapitulation of the
opening, is heavy with such a mixture of sadness and happiness, relief and regret, as only a great song composer could
have created. Verlaines poem ends with the poet saying on behalf of his lovers Voice of our despair, / The nightingale will
sing. The Lemcke text, written eight years earlier, says something similar, and it is the same bird who trills its perennial
theme of love that is doomed to failure. We hear ferne three times, twice on the rising third of D sharp to F sharp,
harmonized in B major, then in B minor. This word also represents the unbridgeable distance between the two figures
clinging to each other in the forest, and when D sharp slips to D natural followed by F sharp (now harmonized in D major)
the acknowledgement of loss, the giving up of hope, is almost unbearably poignant. When the nightingale itself is
mentioned in two of Brahmss most beautiful (and difficult to sing) phrases we are aware that nature gives voice to a
sadness unchangeable by any human power. The first Nachtigall is sung to the same notes as the word Widerhall in
Brahmss later Nachtigall, Op 97 No 1, where it is indeed an echo of this earlier masterpiece. The second Nachtigall
(D sharp and F sharp, the same phrase as ferne) has the voice rising as the piano descends. Their meeting on the tonic
chord for the words final syllable leaves the accompaniment in the depths of the keyboard, the singer dangling exquisitely,
out on a limb, as he contemplates a life of loneliness and regret. Consummation is not to be; from the very beginning every
note of this extraordinary song has pointed to the same, sad conclusion.

cm Auf dem Schiffe

On the ship 3

Op 97 No 2. Composed before May 1885; published in March 1886. A major (original key),

Ein Vgelein
Fliegt ber den Rhein
Und wiegt die Flgel
Im Sonnenschein,
Sieht Rebenhgel
Und grne Flut
In goldner Glut.
Wie wohl das tut,
So hoch erhoben
Im Morgenhauch!
Beim Vglein droben,
O, wr ich auch!

8 Lebhaft und rasch

A little bird
Flies over the Rhine
And sways its wings
In the sunlight,
Sees vine-clad hills
And green waves
In a golden glow
How good it feels
To be borne so high
In the morning breeze!
O to be up there
With the little bird!

CHRISTIAN REINHOLD KSTLIN (18131856), under the name CHRISTIAN REINHOLD

Brahms in such a playful mood is a delight at any time, and in the late songs especially so. The setting was sent as a gift
to his dear friends the Fellingers. Maria Fellinger (not to be confused with the singer Marie Fillunger, lover of Eugenie
Schumann) was the daughter of Christian Kstlin, the poet who wrote under the pseudonym Christian Reinhold. She was
also an amateur photographer whose pictures of Brahms were used as the basis of several busts and lithographs. It was
30

clearly pleasing to Brahms to send her a setting of her late fathers words that reflected
the light-hearted companionship he enjoyed chez Fellinger in the last thirteen years of
his life.
In Das Mdchen spricht Brahms had already proved himself a master of depicting the
twitterings of birds as well as their unexpected and seemingly random flights of fancy.
In this poem Reinhold (Kstlin) finds himself on a boat on the Rhine. The movements
of the little bird who claims the poets attention seem even friskier when observed from
aboard a moving vessel. The forte marking at the beginning rather shocked early
listeners who might have hoped for something gentler to depict a dear little Vgelein:
Elisabet von Herzogenberg refers, perhaps not altogether approvingly, to the cheerful
hammering of the ivories. The accompaniment, where only the first two notes of a
right-hand triplet figure are heard (resulting in a succession of chords that sound as
if they are ornamented with a succession of snatched and ebullient acciaccature),
brilliantly captures avian ducking and weaving, joyful chirruping, the disruptive energy
of swoops and somersaults buffeted by air currents and gusts of wind.
The vocal line has all the persuasive bonhomie of someone who loves being outdoors
and enjoys disporting himself on deck in glorious summer weather, perhaps singing or
whistling the while. With the changing tessitura of the vocal line Brahms is clever
The title page of Reinholds Gedichte (1853)
enough to suggest that the singers gaze switches between the heavens and the horizon
from the vantage point of the ship-deck. We are not altogether sure if this is a sail boat
or a steamer; the poet lived during a transitional age when both would have been commercially available. If Brahms were
imagining the former, the sforzati in the piano-writing might also have something to do with the clacking sound of sails
filling with air and flapping in the wind. What the poet would have liked best is an aerial tour of the Rhine in a not-yetinvented aeroplane, but until that time he can dream of the freedom of being a bird himself. The setting by Schubert of
Friedrich Schlegels poem Der Knabe describes a boy with a similar longing to fly. The Schubert song fades away dreamily,
but Brahms ends his with two forte bars as if to say too bad! with a cheery shrug of the shoulders: what fools we humans
are to even imagine such a thing!

cn Es hing der Reif

Hoarfrost hung from the 3linden tree

Op 106 No 3. Composed in Thun in the summer of 1888; published in October 1888. A minor (original key),

Es hing der Reif im Lindenbaum,


Wodurch das Licht wie Silber flo;
Ich sah dein Haus, wie hell im Traum
Ein blitzend Feenschlo.
Und offen stand das Fenster dein,
Ich konnte dir ins Zimmer sehn
Da tratst du in den Sonnenschein,
Du dunkelste der Feen!

4 Trumerisch

Hoarfrost hung from the linden tree,


Through which light flowed like silver;
I saw your house, bright as in a dream,
A gleaming fairy castle.
And your window was open wide,
I could look into your room
You then stepped into the sunshine,
You the darkest of fairies!

31

Ich bebt in seligem Genu,


So frhlingswarm und wunderbar:
Da merkt ich gleich an deinem Gru,
Da Frost und Winter war.

I trembled in blissful pleasure,


Filled wth springtime warmth and wonder:
Then I saw at once from your greeting
That frost had set in and winter.

KLAUS GROTH (18191899)

The musical means employed in this song are relatively simple, but strikingly original. The effect of dream-like stillness, the
suspension of reality, the strangeness of a world of fairytale visions, all are created by placing musical weight on the third
beat of the bar which makes the supposedly strong beat that follows appear weaka cross-barline trompe-loreille. This
conjures an extraordinary sense of frozen time and hovering unease. Elisabet von Herzogenberg found the minims languid
and laborious but she had clearly not understood what the composer was trying to do, and was also repelled by the sheer
strangeness and modernity of the music. In this same year Hugo Wolf composed his Mrike songs, a series of masterpieces
that threatened to topple the older mans song-writing supremacy, but in Es hing der Reif Brahms shows that he can evoke
as cold and empty a landscape of frozen emotions (and dream up as original a song) as the composer of Das verlassene
Mgdlein.
Four-note arpeggios in the left hand drift upwards in dreamy reverie, and the songs marking specifically confirms that this
is the desired mood. But the first of these three left-hand notes anticipates by a quaver the chord that is the perversely
emphasized third beat of the bar. This increases the sense of disorientation in this music, the impression of dragging
behind the beat which adds a heavy, benumbing note to the music. The unimportant words der and im are placed on
these emphasized third beats (bars 5 and 6) as well as being set higher in the voice than hing and Reif. This is breaking
every rule of word-setting, as only a master at the height of his powers is able to do and get away with it.
For the poems second verse (Und offen stand das Fenster dein) the accompanying pattern changes and the vocal line is
largely unaccompanied; the pianists interjections illustrate the tentative nature of peeking into someone elses bedroom.
The appearance of the beloved (Da tratst du in den Sonnenschein), a fairy princess in this metaphor, transforms the
opening accompaniment into something warmer and friendlier where A minor is replaced with A flat major, a tonality
associated with worshipping the beloved, albeit unrequitedly (as in Ein Sonett, track 4 ). In his dream the singer trembles
at the sight of his beloved (Ich bebt). Even by Brahmss unconventional standards the placing of the word in on a high A
(in seligem Genu) seems ill-advised, but it works here because the blissful pleasure is revealed as something far more
painful and shocking. The way the song subsides from its moment of near-happiness back to the frozen emotional wastes
of the opening is achieved by a vocal line that slowly winds its way down the stave, a graduated and disillusioned retreat.
The final phrase of the song (Da Frost und Winter war) incorporates the ghost of the final vocal cadence of Schuberts
Der Doppelgnger, another song with a supernatural scenario that takes place outside the beloveds house and with even
more devastating consequences. This also confirms that Groths lyric contains certain echoes of Heinrich Heines poetry.
The pianos postlude, an A minor chord decorated with a protracted and mournful passing note, is chilling and bleak.

32

co Ein Wanderer

A traveller
2

Op 106 No 5. Composed in 1885; published in October 1888. F minor (original key),

Hier, wo sich die Straen scheiden,


Wo nun gehn die Wege hin?
Meiner ist der Weg der Leiden,
Des ich immer sicher bin.
Wandrer, die des Weges gehen,
Fragen freundlich: Wo hinaus?
Keiner wird mich doch verstehen,
Sag ich ihm, wo ich zu Haus.
Reiche Erde, arme Erde,
Hast du keinen Raum fr mich?
Wo ich einst begraben werde,
An der Stelle lieb ich dich.

4 In langsam gehender Bewegung

Here, where the roads divide,


Where do the paths now lead?
Mine is the path of suffering,
Of that I am always certain.
Travellers on the road
Enquire with kindness: whither bound?
Not one of them will understand
When I tell him where my home is.
Rich earth, poor earth,
Have you no room for me?
Where one day Ill be buried,
Thats where I shall love you.

CHRISTIAN REINHOLD KSTLIN (18131856), under the name CHRISTIAN REINHOLD

The connection between this Wanderer and the winter traveller of Schuberts Winterreise is very clear. In gehender
Bewegung is a marking that Schubert used for that cycle, and the key of F minor is the one in which Brahms would have
accompanied the baritone Stockhausen in Der Wegweiser, the song in the Schubert cycle to which Ein Wanderer is most
closely related. (If F minor is the baritone key for Der Wegweiser, it is a demandingly high one for a tenor in the Brahms
indeed the emotional temperature of Ein Wanderer appears especially intense in this original tonality.) By the time Brahms
composed this song the collaboration with Stockhausen was a distant memory but Schubert and his music were very much
still on the agenda. Brahms was a lifelong enthusiast and a collector of the composers manuscripts and he was deeply
involved as an adviser for the preparation of the new Schubert Gesamtausgabe where the songs would eventually appear
under the inspired editorship of his protg, Eusebius Mandyczewski.
2
The time-signature is 4 , four quavers in the bar, like Der Wegweiser. The two chords of the opening bar are something of a
signpost that points the traveller in the direction of his sad fate. The image of diverging paths is aptly illustrated by the way
in which the semiquaver accompaniment for Hier, wo sich die Straen scheiden goes in opposite directions beneath the
hands. For Meiner ist der Weg der Leiden, the pianists left hand, forcibly establishing its independence with a sforzato
on the second quaver of the bar, acts as a deadweight that pulls the accompaniment into the Stygian regions of the bass
clef. Again this illustrates a divergent path: as the piano burrows in the depths the singer rises to the top of the stave for a
vehement confirmation of his continuing bad luck in love (Des ich immer sicher bin). Friedlnder mentions Brahmss
love of Hungarian folk-music in connection with this song and maybe it does have some bearing; the singer is certainly
more temperamental and excitable than Schuberts protagonist.
As an introduction to the second verse, the signpost motif (two descending crotchet chords, a third apart) is now heard
lower than before. We are set up to expect a strophic repetition but it is nothing so simple. The accompaniment is busy and
the harmonic scheme restlessly inventive; this is very far from Schuberts trudging linear manner in a barren landscape
in fact this terrain seems positively hilly by comparison. In the middle of the verse (at Keiner wird mich doch verstehen) a
33

dotted motif renders the journey surprisingly spiky and jerkyperhaps an attempt to depict the playing down of grief with
an assumed cheerfulness for the benefit of the other travellers who ask where he is going. Surprisingly, the words wo ich
zu Haus prompt a pair of melodramatic pianistic flourishes, the most dramatic music of the pieceas if he does not want
to actually say that death and the grave are on the agenda, but he is prepared to drop a heavy hint.
The words of the third strophe are nearest in spirit to the no-room-at-the-inn pathos of Das Wirtshaus in Schuberts cycle,
but once again this music is far too active and passionate to invite any true comparison with Schubert. Under Reiche Erde,
arme Erde there is the muffled drum of a death march and the harmonic direction of the music pulls the narrator,
swearing eternal devotion, ineluctably to the grave. The song is full of Brahmsian skill but Reinholds poem does not serve
the composer well, despite his fondness for Maria Fellinger, the poets daughter (see track cm ). This traveller wears his
heart far too much on his sleeve genuinely to engage our sympathies; as a result Ein Wanderer is very seldom performed
on the concert platform.
Three songs from the Deutsche Volkslieder WoO33 (1894)
The sun no longer shines

cp Die Sonne scheint nicht mehr


2
WoO33 No 5. G major (original key)

4 Gehalten und empfindungsvoll

Die Sonne scheint nicht mehr


The sun no longer shines
So schn, als wie vorher,
As beautifully as it did,
Der Tag ist nicht so heiter,
The days no longer as serene
So liebreich gar nicht mehr.
Or as loving as it was.
Das Feuer kann man lschen,
Fire can be extinguished
Die Liebe nicht vergessen,
But love not forgotten,
Das Feuer brennt so sehr,
Fire burns so brightly,
Die Liebe noch viel mehr.
Love burns even more.
Mein Herz ist nicht mehr mein,
My hearts no longer mine,
O knnt ich bei dir sein,
If only I could be with you,
So wre mir geholfen
Thered be some comfort
Von aller meiner Pein.
For all my pain.
Das Feuer kann man lschen
Fire can be extinguished
3
The song starts slowly in duple time, the piano wanly trailing the voice in dejected echo. The second section is in 4
(a feature of rustic dance music this) and is marked Lebhaft. The music suddenly bursts into flame with leaping,
hocketing quavers in the vocal line chased by the piano in imitation, as if it were the pianists responsibility to contain
the emotional fire that has been kindled by a devastating separation, a losing battle. Brahms somehow manages to suggest
sadness, even desperation, without going anywhere near the minor mode, as if love burns brightly in the major whether
or not reciprocated. The poem and the tune that goes with it have been stitched together by Zuccalmaglio from disparate
sources. He says that this is from Western Vosges, one of those vague attributions of his that sound scholarly but are very
difficult to take seriously.

34

cq Wo gehst du hin, du Stolze?3


WoO33 No 22. G major (original key),

4 Lebhaft und hell

Where are you going, proud girl?

Wo gehst du hin, du Stolze?


Where are you going, proud girl?
Was hab ich dir getan,
What have I done to you,
Da du an mir vorbeigehst,
That you should walk past me
Und siehst mich gar nicht an?
And not look at me at all?
Seh ich dich kommen, gr ich dich,
When I see you coming, I greet you,
Du gehst vorbei und dankst mir nicht;
You walk past me without a thank you;
Es wird die Stunde kommen,
The time will come,
Wo du noch denkst an mich!
When you shall think of me.
Die Rosen, die im Walde
The roses in the forest
Erblhn in frischer Pracht,
Blossom in fresh splendour,
Bald sind sie abgefallen,
Soon they will have faded,
Verblhet ber Nacht.
Withered over-night.
Fllt eine Rose in den Staub,
When a rose turns to dust,
So blht die andre auf am Strauch,
Another blossoms on the bough,
Und ist es nicht die eine,
And if the one does not,
Die andere mir lacht.
The other will smile on me.
This is another case of Brahms being happy to use unalloyed major-key tonality to describe rejection and hurt, although the
ignored lover threatens, not altogether convincingly, that he will find someone else just as attractive. Whatever the intensity
or veracity of the young mans complaints (and this may be just a passing tiff) the appeal of this setting (almost certainly
based on something invented by Zuccalmaglio) is the ingenious dovetailing of vocal line and piano. The strength of the bass
line is exemplary, as is the economy and sophistication of the three-part writing that blossoms into four parts to give only
an occasional hint of effulgence. All in all this is the work of a master technician, easily overlooked by those listeners who
have never had to attempt harmony exercises. The careful placing of rests in the otherwise seamless flow of piano crotchets
suggests the swagger, insouciant but not quite convincing, of a young man who is hurt and perplexed, but who would rather
die than admit it. The interlude and postlude, both marked forte, depict pique and defiance, but there is a clinginess to this
music where voice and piano are welded closely enough to suggest that the young man would come running if die Stolze
gave him half an excuse to do so.

cr Es steht ein Lind

WoO33 No 41. C major (original key), c Zart und ausdrucksvoll

A lime tree stands

Es steht ein Lind in jenem Tal,


Ach Gott, was tut sie da?
Sie will mir helfen trauren, trauren,
Da ich mein Lieb verloren hab.
Es sitzt ein Vglein auf dem Zaun,
Ach Gott, was tut es da?
Es will mir helfen klagen, klagen,
Da ich mein Lieb verloren hab.

A lime tree stands in that valley,


Ah, God, what is it doing there?
It will help me to mourn, to mourn
That I have lost my love.
A little bird sits on the fence,
Ah, God, what is it doing there?
It will help me to grieve, to grieve,
That I have lost my love.

35

Es quillt ein Brnnlein auf dem Plan,


Ach Gott, was tut es da?
Es will mir helfen weinen, weinen,
Da ich mein Lieb verloren hab.

A little stream flows over the plain,


Ah, God, what is it doing there?
It will help me to weep, to weep,
That I have lost my love.

WILHELM TAPPERT (18301907)

The pianos opening bars, minims in quasi chorale, suggest the solidity of a linden tree, the kind that typifies an imaginary
German village of yore, and under which countless lovers, including those in Schuberts Winterreise, have plighted their
troth. The wafting quaver movement of the accompaniment suggest branches swaying in the wind (verse 1), the flitting of a
bird from branch to branch (verse 2) and gently running water (verse 3), a musical economy typical of late Brahms. The
poem is by Wilhelm Tappert (18301907) who affixed it to a melody he claimed came from a Nuremberg collection from
1550. He published it in the 1870s as No 24 of Deutsche Lieder aus dem 15., 16. und 17. Jahrhundert, a collection
Tappert dedicated to Wagner. The tune is eerily reminiscent of Mein Mdel hat einen Rosenmund. The vocal melismas
on trauren in the first verse, and then klagen, and finally weinen (echoed in the piano only once, six bars from the end)
are unusual for these folksong settings where one note per syllable is the order of the day. This stems from the Tappert
arrangement. Indeed, Brahms did little other than discreetly rearrange the piano part, substituting his more noble
accompaniment for Tapperts chugging and rather uninspired quavers. The way in which the line Da ich mein Lieb
verloren hab is set twice, first as a two-bar phrase, and then as a four-bar phrase with longer note values, is also unusual,
and this is a genuinely Brahmsian touch. As a result this faux folksong setting teeters on the borders of art song.
Perhaps this is because the words are contemporary pastiche; Brahms knew this of course and seemed to have little
scruple in including them among all the other texts, some of which were genuinely ancient. Authenticity in any strict
musicological sense seems not to have mattered to him: if the words or music were imitations of the real thing they were
excluded only if they were ineffective; if they touched him they were allowed into the fold. In fact, he would sooner use an
effective fake than something irreproachably original and dull.
Notes by GRAHAM JOHNSON 2011
English translations by RICHARD STOKES, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber and Faber, 2005)
with thanks to George Bird, co-author of The Fischer-Dieskau Book of Lieder (Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1976)

Recorded in All Saints, Durham Road, East Finchley, London, on 2325 November 2009
Recording Engineer JULIAN MILLARD
Recording Producer MARK BROWN
Piano STEINWAY & SONS
Booklet Editor TIM PARRY
Executive Producer SIMON PERRY
P & C Hyperion Records Ltd, London, MMXI
Front photograph by Benjamin Ealovega

36

Also available
The Songs of Johannes Brahms 1
ANGELIKA KIRCHSCHLAGER mezzo-soprano
GRAHAM JOHNSON piano
Compact Disc CDJ33121
The first volume of what promises, on the evidence of this
disc, to be yet another absorbing and invaluable encyclopaedia
of a songmasters life and work. Graham Johnson, once
again, is both mastermind and pianist, and, as ever, his
accompanying notes and essays are as witty and richly allusive
as his playing (BBC Music Magazine) A very fine
imagination is at play, doing things with tone, colour and
dynamics that are utterly beguiling. Johnson is, as you might
expect, immaculate (The Guardian)
The Songs of Johannes Brahms 2
CHRISTINE SCHFER soprano
GRAHAM JOHNSON piano
Compact Disc CDJ33122
The second volume of Hyperions complete Brahms songs is
the generous and imaginatively planned anthology that we have
come to expect from these important series compiled by
Graham Johnsonwitness his excellent Schubert and
Schumann series. And it comes, as ever, with richly crossreferenced notes and essays (BBC Music Magazine)

All Hyperion and Helios recordings may be purchased over the internet at

www.hyperion-records.co.uk
where you will also find an up-to-date catalogue listing and much additional information

37

Nicolas Kroeger

SIMON BODE
Born in Hamburg in 1984, Simon Bode started his musical education
with violin and piano lessons, going on to win several awards on both
instruments. He later began his vocal studies with Professor Charlotte
Lehmann at the Hochschule fr Musik and Theater in Hanover. The young
singer has won many prestigious prizes early in his career, including the
Hans-Sikorski memory-prize of the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben,
awards from the Walter Kaminsky Foundation, the Niederschsische
Sparkassenstiftung, the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation Live music now, and
the Jrgen Ponto Foundation. Accompanied by Nicholas Rimmer he was a
Prize-winner at the 2009 International Schubert Competition in Dortmund.
He is also a scholar of the German National Academic Merit Foundation.
Since 2010 Simon Bode has been a member of the opera studio at Oper
Frankfurt, making his critically acclaimed debut as Belmonte in Christof
Loys fted production of Mozarts Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail in March
2011. He is also a regular guest at the State Opera in Hanover and the State
Theatre Braunschweig, notably as Gomatz in Mozarts early opera Zaide.
Aside from opera, Simon Bode is a dedicated Lieder singer. He regularly
collaborates with pianists Graham Johnson, Igor Levit and Nicholas Rimmer, and bayan player Elsbeth Moser, performing
premieres of contemporary works as well as more familiar repertoire. He has given recitals at the international Rising Stars
festival The Next Generation II, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and Festival Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and has
made numerous recordings and broadcast appearances with the Norddeutscher and Bayerischer Rundfunk.
GRAHAM JOHNSON
Graham Johnson is recognized as one of the worlds leading vocal accompanists. Born in Rhodesia, he came to London to
study in 1967. After leaving the Royal Academy of Music his teachers included Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons. In 1972
he was the official pianist at Peter Pears first masterclasses at The Maltings, Snape, which brought him into contact with
Benjamin Brittena link which strengthened his determination to accompany. In 1976 he formed The Songmakers
Almanac to explore neglected areas of piano-accompanied vocal music; the founder singers were Dame Felicity Lott, Ann
Murray DBE, Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Richard Jacksonartists with whom he established long and fruitful
collaborations. Graham Johnson has accompanied such distinguished singers as Sir Thomas Allen, Victoria de los Angeles,
Elly Ameling, Arleen Auger, Ian Bostridge, Brigitte Fassbaender, Matthias Goerne, Thomas Hampson, Simon Keenlyside,
Angelika Kirchschlager, Philip Langridge, Serge Leiferkus, Christopher Maltman, Edith Mathis, Lucia Popp, Christoph
Prgardien, Dame Margaret Price, Thomas Quastoff, Dorothea Rschmann, Kate Royal, Christine Schfer, Peter Schreier,
Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Sarah Walker.
38

Graham Johnsons relationship with Wigmore Hall in London is a special one.


He devised and accompanied concerts in the halls re-opening series in 1992,
and in its centenary celebrations in 2001. He has been Chairman of the jury
for the Wigmore Hall Song Competition since its inception. He is Senior
Professor of Accompaniment at the Guildhall School of Music and has led a
biennial scheme for Young Songmakers since 1985. He has had a long and
fruitful link with Hyperion, for whom he has devised and accompanied a set
of complete Schubert Lieder on 37 discs, a milestone in the history of
recording, as well as the complete songs of Schumann and, as part of a wider
French song series, Faur. Awards include the Gramophone solo vocal
awards in 1989 (the first Schubert volume with Dame Janet Baker), 1996
(Die schone Mllerin with Ian Bostridge), 1997 (for the inauguration of the
Schumann series with Christine Schfer) and 2001 (with Magdalena Kozen
on DG). He was The Royal Philharmonic Societys Instrumentalist of the Year
in 1998; in June 2000 he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Music. He is author of The Songmakers Almanac: Twenty years
of recitals in London, The French Song Companion (OUP, 2000), Britten:
Voice and Piano (Ashgate, 2003) and Gabriel Faur: the Songs and their
Poets (Ashgate, 2009). He was made an OBE in the 1994 Queens Birthday
Honours list and in 2002 he was created Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et
Lettres by the French Government. He was also made an Honorary Member
of the Royal Philharmonic Society in February 2010.

If you have enjoyed this recording perhaps you would like a catalogue listing the many others available on the Hyperion and Helios labels. If so,
please write to Hyperion Records Ltd, PO Box 25, London SE9 1AX, England, or email us at info@hyperion-records.co.uk, and we will be pleased
to send you one free of charge.
The Hyperion catalogue can also be accessed on the Internet at www.hyperion-records.co.uk

Copyright subsists in all Hyperion recordings and it is illegal to copy them, in whole or in part, for any purpose whatsoever, without
permission from the copyright holder, Hyperion Records Ltd, PO Box 25, London SE9 1AX, England. Any unauthorized copying
or re-recording, broadcasting, or public performance of this or any other Hyperion recording will constitute an infringement of
copyright. Applications for a public performance licence should be sent to Phonographic Performance Ltd, 1 Upper James Street,
London W1F 9DE

39

Malcolm Crowthers

CDJ33123

The Songs of Johannes Brahms ~ 3


1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
bl
bm
bn
bo
bp
bq
br
bs
bt
bu
cl
cm
cn
co
cp
cq
cr

Wach auf, mein Herzensschne WoO33 No 16 TRADITIONAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Erlaube mir, feins Mdchen WoO33 No 2 TRADITIONAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mein Mdel hat einen Rosenmund WoO33 No 25 TRADITIONAL . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ein Sonett Op 14 No 4 JOHANN GOTTFRIED HERDER translated from THIBAULT DE CHAMPAGNE . . . .
Stndchen Op 14 No 7 TRADITIONAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Der Kuss Op 19 No 1 LUDWIG HEINRICH CHRISTOPH HLTY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
An eine olsharfe Op 19 No 5 EDUARD MRIKE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Magyarisch Op 46 No 2 GEORG FRIEDRICH DAUMER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Die Schale der Vergessenheit Op 46 No 3 LUDWIG HEINRICH CHRISTOPH HLTY . . . . .
Am Sonntag Morgen Op 49 No 1 PAUL HEYSE translated from traditional Italian . . . . . . . . .
An ein Veilchen Op 49 No 2 LUDWIG HEINRICH CHRISTOPH HLTY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sehnsucht Op 49 No 3 JOSEF WENZIG translated from traditional Bohemian . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wiegenlied Op 49 No 4 ANONYMOUS / GEORG SCHERER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Abenddmmerung Op 49 No 5 ADOLF FRIEDRICH VON SCHACK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mein wundes Herz verlangt Op 59 No 7 KLAUS GROTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Im Garten am Seegestade Op 70 No 1 KARL LEMCKE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Lerchengesang Op 70 No 2 KARL AUGUST CANDIDUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Serenade Op 70 No 3 JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
An den Mond Op 71 No 2 KARL JOSEPH SIMROCK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In Waldeseinsamkeit Op 85 No 6 KARL LEMCKE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Auf dem Schiffe Op 97 No 2 CHRISTIAN REINHOLD, pseudonym of CHRISTIAN KSTLIN . . . . . . .
Es hing der Reif Op 106 No 3 KLAUS GROTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ein Wanderer Op 106 No 5 CHRISTIAN REINHOLD, pseudonym of CHRISTIAN KSTLIN . . . . . . . .
Die Sonne scheint nicht mehr WoO33 No 5 TRADITIONAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wo gehst du hin, du Stolze? WoO33 No 22 TRADITIONAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Es steht ein Lind WoO33 No 41 TRADITIONAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SIMON BODE tenor


GRAHAM JOHNSON piano

[2'08]
[1'22]
[2'01]
[1'54]
[3'18]
[1'51]
[4'03]
[2'54]
[1'43]
[1'26]
[2'46]
[1'46]
[2'01]
[4'38]
[1'54]
[2'23]
[2'51]
[1'21]
[3'17]
[2'35]
[1'07]
[2'52]
[3'02]
[1'21]
[1'18]
[2'45]

Hyperion
CDJ33123

The Songs of Johannes Brahms ~ 3


1 Wach auf, mein Herzensschne WoO33 No 16 [2'08]
2 Erlaube mir, feins Mdchen WoO33 No 2 [1'22]
3 Mein Mdel hat einen Rosenmund WoO33 No 25 [2'01]
4 Ein Sonett Op 14 No 4 [1'54] 5 Stndchen Op 14 No 7 [3'18]
6 Der Kuss Op 19 No 1 [1'51] 7 An eine olsharfe Op 19 No 5 [4'03]
8 Magyarisch Op 46 No 2 [2'54] 9 Die Schale der Vergessenheit Op 46 No 3 [1'43]

bq Mein wundes Herz verlangt Op 59 No 7 [1'54]


br Im Garten am Seegestade Op 70 No 1 [2'23] bs Lerchengesang Op 70 No 2 [2'51]
bt Serenade Op 70 No 3 [1'21] bu An den Mond Op 71 No 2 [3'17]
cl In Waldeseinsamkeit Op 85 No 6 [2'35] cm Auf dem Schiffe Op 97 No 2 [1'07]
cn Es hing der Reif Op 106 No 3 [2'52] co Ein Wanderer Op 106 No 5 [3'02]
cp Die Sonne scheint nicht mehr WoO33 No 5 [1'21]
cq Wo gehst du hin, du Stolze? WoO33 No 22 [1'18]
cr Es steht ein Lind WoO33 No 41 [2'45]

SIMON BODE tenor


GRAHAM JOHNSON piano
MADE IN ENGLAND

www.hyperion-records.co.uk
HYPERION RECORDS LIMITED . LONDON . ENGLAND

Hyperion
CDJ33123

BRAHMS THE COMPLETE SONGS 3


SIMON BODE tenor GRAHAM JOHNSON piano

bl Am Sonntag Morgen Op 49 No 1 [1'26] bm An ein Veilchen Op 49 No 2 [2'46]


bn Sehnsucht Op 49 No 3 [1'46] bo Wiegenlied Op 49 No 4 [2'01]
bp Abenddmmerung Op 49 No 5 [4'38]

DDD

BRAHMS THE COMPLETE SONGS 3


SIMON BODE tenor GRAHAM JOHNSON piano

CDJ33123
Duration 60'51