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Some Things Borrowed: Hugo Wolf's Anakreons Grab

Author(s): Christopher Hatch

Source: The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Summer, 1999), pp. 420-437
Published by: University of California Press
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Accessed: 08-11-2018 16:51 UTC

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Some Things Borrowed:
Hugo Wolf's Anakreons Grab

Hugo Wolf, in listing which of h

to be performed in Stuttgart on June 15, 1895,
Anakreons Grab "unavoidable."' He had written this lied in November

1888 and had it published in 1889 as the twenty-ninth of his fif

Goethe lieder, and already it was a recital favorite, easily unde
and enjoyed. Now, a century later, it is as effective as ever, so it
fitting to ask, what makes Anakreons Grab readily accessible to liste
"The conceptions and feelings that are embodied in a compo
420 are in large measure specific to music itself; they are essential
known in any other way. Meaning of this type nevertheless resi
community of understanding and ways of feeling and in subtle
tures from tradition; it is by no means inevitably attached to
acoustic patterns."2 In a lied the sung poem collaborates with th
in speaking to the audience. But that the music can be heard to
the meaning of the text arises from a hearer's independent ma
conscious or unconscious, of the conventions observed by the m
self. Even if the words are unintelligible, the sense of the piece
The contents of Anakreons Grab might be profitably canvassed to see
how "a community of understanding" operates. The opening rhythms
of the vocal line (Ex. 1) provide a case in point, for they suggest the
drift of the whole song.

Volume XVII ? Number 3 " Summer 1999

The Journal of Musicology ? 1999 by the Regents of the University of California

1 Hugo Wolf, Letters to Melanie K6chert, ed. Franz Grasberger, trans. Louise McClel-
land Urban (New York, 99'1), 211.
2 Edward A. Lippman, "An Interpretation of Bach's 'Ich folge dir gleichfalls,' " Col-
lege Music Symposium V (1965), 88; rpt. in his The Philosophy and Aesthetics of Music (Lin-
coln, Neb., 1999), 115-

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EXAMPLE 1. Anakreons Grab, mm. 3-5 (rhythm of voc

S; 7 F EC[ [E E E F P[ F F ' I

By 1888 siciliano formulas like these h

turies, "associated with pastoral scenes
the Goethe poem that is the text of Wolf
ers, vines, birds, and insects environ
Anacreon, the words describing an ide
Since composing sicilianos was passe by
their rhythmic and melodic style also w
as the text implicitly turns toward the g
The endurance of Anacreon's reputat
his love of life, resolves the poem's initia
nature and the finality of death; the
sleep in the bosom of a world that was
ring of the distinction between sleep a
manifested in the sacred works of J. S
bies the compound meters are the 421rule.

holds no inkling of orthodox beliefs b


The last line of the text speaks of the shelter granted to Anacreon
by the burial mound. At this point the vocal setting (Ex. 2) marks out
the pentatonic scale steps 1-6-5-6-3-2-1, a succession that, apart from
the recurrence of 6, represents in other contexts the sleep of Brfinn-
hilde and that of a dozing child.

EXAMPLE 2. Anakreons Grab, mm. 17-18

vor dem Win - ter hat ihn end - lich der Hii- gel ge-schiitzt.

Within Wagner's circle of fire and in Schumann's nursery (Kinderszenen,

Opus 15, no. 12) comes a slumber as quiet though not as lasting as the
sleep of the tomb.

3 The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, XVII, 291, s. v. "siciliana." Wolf's
continuity sketch, in contrast to the song, is in 8 meter and lacks the dotted-note figure of
measure 1 (see Susan Youens, "The Song Sketches of Hugo Wolf," Current Musicology
XLIV [199o], 17) and so in these respects is less siciliano-like.

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The first vocal phrases in the Wolf song (Ex. 3a) more closely
resent the course of a conventional lullaby, or so Schumann's Hoc
disches Wiegenlied, Opus 25, no. 14, suggests (Ex. 3b).4

EXAMPLE 3a. Anakreons Grab, mm. 3-6

94 11 N

.9r r I

Wo die

I r r r r
wo das Tur - tel-chen lockt, wo

EXAMPLE 3b. Schumann, Opus

Leise. p

422 1. Schla - fe, sii - sser klei - ner Do - nald;

E - ben - bild des gro - ssen Ro - nald!

An excerpt from a traditional Scottish cradle song (Ex. 4

ther that Schumann hit upon the right melodic gestures
of a Robert Burns poem.

EXAMPLE 4. Traditional Scottish Lullaby, mm. 5-8

Lift me a coo, and a goat and a we - ther,

Bring - ing them hame to yer min - nie the - gi - ther.

4 In Wolf's sketch of the melody the bracketed notes are G-A. See Youens, "Song
Sketches," 17.

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If, symbolically, nature lulls and protects its fa

creon, the song's piano part at the same time spea
sence, and regret"5 through the tiniest hint of a h
of the postlude (Ex. 5).

EXAMPLE 5. Anakreons Grab, mm. 18-19

- I.

The accompaniment
strumental effect, t
ously the tonic and
toward the end of
marker is the horn call.6
For the Goethe text, "perceptions of the past within the present"7
are fundamental; they allow Greek poetry to be folded into the immedi-
acy of nature's beautiful abundance. This way of comprehending land-
scape, with its "double time scale," had become commonplace well be-
fore 1800.8 As for Romantic music, "horn calls come from landscape;
they appear in Schubert and Beethoven with a novel aura of the sub-
lime and the melancholy derived from the new ambitions of landscape
painters and poets."9 Thus the vestige of a horn call in Wolf's music
adds another temporal dimension; a late Romantic song incorporates
a component that was novel some eighty years earlier while setting a
poem that itself contains its own temporal double vision.

5 Charles Rosen, The Romantic Generation (Cambridge, Mass., 1995), 1 17

6 The piano postlude makes a distant approach to the exoticism and folklorism as-
sociated by Carl Dahlhaus with the "double bourdon," with "bass drones, ostinatos, and
pedal points"-such devices as made brief appearances in the last measures of Anakreons
Grab. See Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, trans. J. Bradford Robinson (Berkeley,
1989), 305-06.
7 The Romantic Generation, 154, where Rosen is referring to "a normal part of late
eighteenth-century sensibility." For a study of a more long-standing pictorial and literary
tradition that relates to the scene depicted and the emotions evoked by Anakreons Grab,
see Erwin Panofsky, "Et in Arcadia ego: Poussin and the Elegaic Tradition," in his Meaning
in the Visual Arts (Garden City, N.Y., 1955), 295-320.
8 In The Romantic Generation, esp. 124-66, Rosen writes at length on "the double
time scale, the representation of the past through the immediate sensation of the pre-
sent" (124).
9 Ibid., 135-

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The fleeting horn call symptomizes the "lateness" of Anakre

Grab, the music of which can be heard as an elaboration or a com-
mentary on usages established in the early 18oos. If only because of
a shared theme of repose, Wolf's lied can be directly compared to
Schubert's setting (D. 768) of Goethe's most celebrated lyric, Wandrers
Nachtlied, II. "Uber allen Gipfeln" was written in 1780, and Anakreons
Grab shortly thereafter. The earlier poem as expanded by Schubert
through repetition of words (bracketed below) is roughly half as long
as the other.

TUber allen Gipfeln

Ist Ruh,
In allen Wipfeln
Spfirest du
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die V6gelein schweigen [schweigen] im Walde.
Warte nur, [warte nur,] balde
Ruhest du auch.
[Warte nur, warte nur, balde
Ruhest du auch.]
(Over all the mountain peaks/ is peace,/ in all the treetops/
you sense/ scarcely a breath;/ the birds are silent in the
woods./ Only wait, soon/ you too will rest.)

Wo die Rose hier blfiht, wo Reben um Lorbeer sich schlingen,

Wo das Turtelchen lockt, wo sich das Grillchen ergetzt,
Welch ein Grab ist hier, das alle G6tter mit Leben
Sch6n bepflanzt und geziert? Es ist Anakreons Ruh.
Frfihling, Sommer und Herbst genoss der glfickliche Dichter;
Vor dem Winter hat ihn endlich der Hiigel geschfitzt.

(Here where the rose blooms, where vines twine about laurel,/
where the turtledove coos, where the cricket rejoices,/ what
grave is here, which all the gods with life/ have beautifully
planted and adorned? It is Anacreon's resting place./ The
happy poet delighted in spring, summer, and fall;/ in the end
this mound has protected him from winter.

The two poems employ similar means to achieve closure, with t

ordering of ideas in the opening verses clearly affecting the thought
pressed at the end. In the night-song the kinds of quietness that pre
among the mountains, trees, and birds, that is, within the mineral,
etable, and animal realms, are swiftly characterized,1o but "you," w

,o Jack Stein, Poem and Music in the German Lied from Gluck to Hugo Wolf (Cambridg
Mass., 1971), 73, esp. with respect to the comment on the mineral, vegetable, and an

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has entered the poem in line 4, is left waiting unt

the promise of a blessed tranquillity. As for Anakreon
lines deal with flowers, vines, birds, and insects pr
mer, or fall;l having been represented there, th
named in line 5, and the consolation of winter's ass
harmless is reserved for the last verse.

The central importance of the horn-call gesture in "Uber allen

Gipfeln" can indicate its stylistic distance from the Wolf lied. The clos-
ing bars of the night-song present a simple form of the horn call fol-
lowed by chromatic variants spun off from the 3-2-1 melodic descent,
which has been expanded to 3-2-5-1 or 3-6-2-1. Against these figures
the scale steps 5-#4-4-3 are given forth (Ex. 6; see also the song's sec-
ond measure).

EXAMPLE 6. Wandrers Nachtlied, mm. 12-14

bal - de ru - hest du auch.


cresct pp

Earlier in t
3-2-5-1 ap


schwei-gen im Wal - de. War -

Wolf's song offers comparable passages more highly chromaticiz

once with a 3-2-5-1 melodic shape (Ex. 8a), but usually without

I Youens points out the suitability of mentioning laurel and vine: "the laurel of
poetic accomplishment and grapes for the wine that Anacreon so often celebrated in his
poems" ("Song Sketches," 19).

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EXAMPLE 8a. Anakreons Grab, mm. 8-9

Le ben schdn be - pflanzt


EXAMPLE 8b. Anakreons G

p pp

426 T I


EXAMPLE 9a. Wandrers Nachtlied, mm. 3-4


EXAMPLE 9b. Anakreons Grab, mm. 5-6

: 60
I r:
- - -

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A subsequent III 7 chord takes on more harmonic for

a locally resolving dominant seventh, so the meaning
ian chord has been greatly transformed (Ex. 1 o).

EXAMPLE 10. Anakreons Grab, mm. 9-10o

-~ L I~

;,.I_ ____rim Imf m=

i i
mf IZmf

The tonal underpinnings of both songs outline an entirely normal

tripartite plan. The Schubert lied at the end of line 5 reaches a strong
cadence on the dominant and only at the word balde regains the tonic
while the same points of arrival are marked at the end of line 2 and th
beginning of line 5 in Anakreons Grab. The approaches to the dominan
greatly resemble each other in that they share melodic contours 4 and
the sharpest dissonant harmonies (*) fall at the same point (Exx. 1 ia &

EXAMPLE 1 la. Wandrers Nachtlied, mm. 4-6 (notes of vocal line only)
1 4 * 2 5

5 8 * 6 2

r F
These mea
scale degr
much the
The subse
fer in leng
the short
setting in
becomes t
words; by
implies th

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contrast, the central section in the Wolf lied darkens the pleasant
ing scene; mystery rather than simple anticipation is here the p
mood. At the words "welch ein Grab" the music that set line 1 (Ex
tries to reappear, but the link of F-sharp to F-natural (and to G-
found in these progressions now initiates a new course (Ex. 12b).1

EXAMPLE 12a. Anakreons Grab, m. 3


Wo die Ro - sehier bliiht, wo

v .4z.

428 EXAMPLE 12b. Anakreons Gr

welch ein Grab ist hier, das al

....,,,, -, h I ? ? "IN

After four measures of eviden

Anakreons Ruh" yields a moment
"Everything that has gone b
phrase with emotive effect."'3
but not fearsome, it seems to say

12 Wolf's sketch indicates the first

"Song Sketches," 17). The way chroma
ness and difference, well matches the
blfiht" and "Welch . . . ist hier." In W
word hier is marked by the first entran
13 Eric Sams, The Songs of Hugo Wolf

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This cadence acquires a degree of finality within

that is quite at odds with early nineteenth-century
the night-song expresses in exemplary fashion the
dominant prolongation. The sketch of Anakreons
suggests how far he was from considering the com
creating this, the crux of the piece. Measures 18-26
as follows (Ex. 13):

EXAMPLE 13. Anakreons Grab, Sketch Excerpt

[Es... Grab.]

As is customary in Wol
stems and, where th
a piano line.14 The B-
proceeds through sc
contour by 1-3-(down
these series in G majo
14a & b).

EXAMPLE 14a. Anakreons Grab, Sketch Excerpt (transposed; mm. 23-25

up by perfect fourth, mm. 18-22 down by minor third)

'9. I IW

..9 k .
-" "1. ?4
?. ~. .

HI /\o
-" K,)-

14 The extract from the sketch is taken from the transcription that forms the ba
of Youen's commentary on Wolf's sketching of the song, "Song Sketches," 16-23.

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EXAMPLE 14b. Anakreons Grab, mm. 11-12

, - -P - PJ
Es ist A - na - kre-ons Ruh.

/ T-,4 ), ,,-I IPL "t .--

p, ".. .
00 I

If the sketch can be thought to

in discerning the birth of counte
Both songs, subdued throug
that the wording of the night
through the course of the poem
than in the closing section. Wh
the tonic is momentarily deflec
the word balde the encapsulatin
pressed by its musical equivalen
(the song's highest note is reach
the meter) and this supported in
sition of the tonic chord that t
above). Whereas a feeling of ful
close, the third section of Anakreons Grab achieves reconciliation and
restoration. The piano introduction, transposed to the key of the fore-
going cadence, returns and, in a rewritten form, makes its way to the
tonic at the outset of the verse "Frfihling, Sommer. .. ." The power
and beauty of nature asserts itself again, since the piano accompani-
ment for lines 1-2 is restated for lines 5-6; aside from a firm tonic close
replacing the earlier dominant, minuscule changes are made. At the
same time, verses 5-6 are carried by a new melody, a line freed from
the comparative melodic confinement of the vocal part in the song's
first section. All told, with order reestablished and enhanced, death is
contained, both spatially and temporally, within the natural cycles of
The musical resemblances between the Wandrers Nachtlied and Anak-
reons Grab group themselves mainly into two types, either comparatively
small-scale patterns and turns of phrase to which expressive meanin
has accrued or ground plans, schemes for articulating musical struc-

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ture, that can be made to match the shapes of po

intermediate level, that is, any considerable liken
harmonic progress unfolding from moment to mom
of at least several phrases.
For an instance of such parallelism involving th
can turn from Schubert's night-song to Beethoven's A
Opus 98. The following pastiche has been fabricat
Anakreons Grab has in common with the first number in the Beethoven

song cycle (Ex. 15).

Behind this music lie the first section of the Wolf lied (rounded off
by a cadence like that which sets Goethe's closing verse) and the recur-
ring strophe in "Auf dem Hiigel" from the Beethoven cycle. Although
the harmonic plenitude of the later song is foreign to Opus 98, which
was written in 1815-16, a common musical discourse underpins both
passages. Alois Jeitteles's text in "Auf dem Hiigel" tends to fuse the
poet's longing with his perception of nature ("blue land of mist . . far
pastures"), and such a poetic stance may supply a weak verbal link to
the piece by Wolf. But even without any textual correlation, the concoc-
tion might sound like a variation infusing the Beethoven excerpt with
modal mixture and stronger dissonance.
In truth, the chromaticism of measure 4 is present in An die ferne
Geliebte itself (see Ex. 16a, below). The corresponding passage in
the Wolf song (measures 3-5) contains the same contrary motion,
5-#4-4-(3 though what is the ascent in the Beethoven bass appears as a
"tenor" line in Anakreons Grab. Not this contrary-motion pattern alone
but its location in similar surroundings speaks for the alliance between
the two songs.
Later on in the Wolf song, during its modulatory second section, the
chords and melodies are so disposed as almost to mimic the passage
from "Auf dem Hilgel" (Exx. 16a & b). Yet the fact of this congruence is
nugatory, for the contexts of the shared harmonies are at odds with each
other and the divergent functions of the matching passages in situ shape
their specific significance. Singling out an obvious difference, one might
remark on the role of E-flat major, evidently the key of both passages.
E-flat is the tonic key of the Beethoven cycle and, more locally, of its
nonmodulatory first song; in the Wolf song, whose tonic is D major, the
E-flat passage lacks a terminal tonic, yields quickly to its relative key,
C minor, and acts structurally as a transition, more precisely, as a mo-
ment of uncertainty that very aptly accompanies the end of the question
"welch ein Grab ist hier. .. ." Perhaps an extrapolation from these ob-
servations can be allowed: the more closely tied in with the particulars of
their surroundings, the less significant become the parallels that mark
like passages occurring in different pieces.

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EXAMPLE 15. Pastiche

Langsam, ruhig und mit Ausdruck

I '),- 0.

_ --

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EXAMPLE 16a. An dieferne Geliebte, mm. 4-7 (piano

E6M: 5 #4 t4 3

I i M I

EM: 5 6 7

EM: 5 #4 4 3?

, L.... Tl l
EbM: 5 6 7
B6M: 5 6 7 8


The same pair o

telling, detail whos
can be explicated
7-8-3 (i.e., rising
both pieces. What
where and how it i
The tonic-to-medi
line of An die fern
number 1."15 Wit
rection, doing so
statement of the
same time is pulled
word spdhend (Ex
Conspicuous from
and in the bass of
in the creation of
cally, every sixth l
the dominant cho
leaps fall within t

15 Joseph Kerman, "

York, 1973), 145-

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EXAMPLE 17. An dieferne Geliebte, mm. 1-11 (vocal line and piano
with piano interlude right hand in mm. 9-11).


4 IRet.

(I Inv. I)

(+8va) ---

8 vRet.-inv. )

v w w

is answered by the
six pitches in the
about the melody
with unencumber
ing spare.
In Anakreons Grab the three-note succession works to other ends and

gains limited prominence, totally absent as it is from the singer's melody.

Unlike the Beethoven figure, it attracts attention by the appoggiatura
like emphasis placed on its initial note, the leading tone. The minor
sixth first appears in the bass as a correction, one may say, of the diss
nant seventh descent in the top voice of measure 1 (Ex. 18a).

EXAMPLE 18a. Anakreons Grab, mm. 1-3

7 8 (2) 4 3 1

p 8-

7 8 3

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EXAMPLE 18b. Anakreons Grab, m. 7

7 8 3

4 3

The inversion 4-3-1

Here, as in the bass o
said to weaken, thoug
its identity is the fact
ately by the "right" p
step. During the appr
section the 7-8-3/4-
voices (see Ex. 18b, ab
But it is in connectio
tion that the half 435
their own (Ex. 19). Th
times tightly, into the
ing the strong cadenc
bilizes; the harmonic
cell emerges in a repe
ing as a new set of sca
over, the forms 7-8-3
shape of the cell grow
polyphonic texture. A
rhythms and the secur
of what was heretofo
the cell draw notice t
short, the three-note f
orate network of rela
dignity of An dieferne
Undeniably, the com
Goethe's Anakreons Gra
century music and dr
which range from we

,6 The .'at-GE-flat
relationshi of in
prefigured by the F-E- C
Example 19.)

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EXAMPLE 19. Anakreons Grab, mm. 7-12 (piano part, notes only)*

F# = G - B B = C - E B6,= B - El B6

SF = E -

A = B - D E = F -A

D E - G D = E = G F# = G - B C# = D-F

i t.i me I 1\ T I

A= G - E G F -
C = B-G

*Underlined letters indicate notes

in the same voice.

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harmonic usage and formal conventions. Familiar t

ers, all these work together to ensure the song's easy
strain arises between what is borrowed and what is
rived at. Each is laden with symbolic emotional sig
material, especially when it is the product of prev
ready-made symbol of the specifically musical feeling
the same time, "Every chord, even every interval, h
character, strongly dependent, of course, on its c
ful immediacy of Wolf's lied testifies to a collabora
joins these two kinds of expressive symbolism.

Dorset, Vermont

17 Edward Arthur Lippman, "Symbolism in Music," The Mu

(1953), 567; rpt. in his Philosophy and Aesthetics of Music, 17.
18 Ibid., 565, and rpt., 14.

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