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Und grab mir bald mein Grab.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Strophe (stanza) 1, lines 1-2. The harp begins with a two-bar
introduction

establishing its steadily flowing, arching arpeggios that will continue through
line

4. The voices enter with a narrow, chromatic, harmonized line that is three bars

long, the horns adding harmonized two-note interjections to the second and third

bars. Line 2 is an exact musical repetition of line 1, but with one less syllable.

0:14 [m. 9]--Lines 3-4. These two lines provide contrast, line 3 moving briefly

away from the key and line 4 bringing the voices back with distinctive, sighing
two-chord

groups. The last of these groups lengthens the first chord and the arching harp

line under both chords. There is a slight buildup of volume and tension in line

4. The horns are absent from line 3, but play with the two-chord groups in line

4.
0:24 [m. 16]--Line 5. The line is sung three times. The first time is a
culmination

of the buildup from line 4, the top sopranos reaching a high note on a climax. The

harp groups now move only upward instead of arching. The horns enter at the
climax.

The second statement eases tension, the voices moving downward on a slightly
chromatic

line. The harp arpeggios also come steadily down, changing their direction to a

downward motion as the line is completed. The horns play under this second
statement.

The third statement extends the line by placing several notes on various syllables

in different voice parts. The tempo slows, the harp drops out, and the voices sing

in counterpoint over the horns until the harp re-enters with rising lines. It does

this as the top sopranos reach their highest note and the tempo speeds up again.

0:42 [m. 25]--As the voices reach their emphatic cadence on the last statement of

line 5, the harp plays the introduction heard at the beginning. It is extended
after
this to six bars, with the horns playing three harmonized two-note groups (the
first

two identical) over new arpeggios. A more extended harp arpeggio under the third

of these (which is lengthened) leads into the next strophe.


0:50 [m. 3 (30)]--Strophe (stanza) 2, lines 1-2, beginning with the vocal entry
after

the extended bridge from strophe 1. Continuation as in strophe 1.


1:00 [m. 9]--Lines 3-4, as in strophe 1, but with changes in declamation and rhythm

to accommodate one less syllable in line 3 and one more syllable in line 4.
1:10 [m. 16]--Line 5. Three statements, as in strophe 1.
1:28 [m. 25]--Expanded introduction/bridge passage, as at 0:42.
1:36 [m. 3 (30)]--Strophe (stanza) 3, lines 1-2, beginning with vocal entry after

the bridge, as in strophe 2.


1:45 [m. 9]--Lines 3-4. Declamation of line 3 is as in strophe 1, that of line 4

is as in strophe 2, since both lines have the greater number of syllables.


1:56 [m. 16]--Line 5. Three statements, as in previous strophes, but all must be

slightly altered in declamation since there is an extra syllable.


2:14 [m. 25]--Expanded introduction/bridge passage, as at 0:42 and 1:28.
2:23 [m. 3 (30)]--Strophe (stanza) 4, lines 1-2, as in strophes 2 and 3.
2:32 [m. 9]--Lines 3-4. Declamation of line 3 is as in strophe 2, that of line 4

as in strophe 1. Both lines have the smaller number of syllables. The declamation

of the combined lines is thus different in every strophe.


2:43 [m. 16]--Line 5. Three statements, as in strophes 1 and 2, without an extra

syllable.
3:02 [m. 25]--Coda. It begins with the first four bars of the expanded bridge
passage

from previous strophes.


3:08 [m. 29]--Here, the coda breaks from the bridge passage. The lengthened third

two-note harmonized horn group and harp arpeggio are replaced by two more identical

short groups at a lower level. The horns then play a very low octave E-flat, the

top horn moving down to D after a full bar, creating a lengthened group. This is

followed by a final, long-held, low horn octave on E-flat. Under both of these
final

horn figures, the harp plays more of its short, arching arpeggios until the final,

very quiet chord.


3:26--END OF SONG [35 mm.]
NOTE: The complete edition edited by Eusebius Mandyczewski labels the 4th ending

after strophe 4, where the coda breaks away from the bridge, as beginning with
measure

31. This should properly be measure 29, as it replaces, not follows, the last two
bars of the bridge in the first three endings, which are labeled as mm. 29-30. The

correct number of the final measure is thus 35, not 37, as indicated in the
Mandyczewski

score.

4. Gesang aus Fingal (Song from “Fingal”). Anonymous translation of an English


text

by Ossian (James MacPherson). Andante. Ternary form with abbreviated return


(ABA').

C MINOR, 2/4 time.

German Text:
Wein’ an den Felsen, der brausenden Winde
weine, o Mädchen von Inistore!
Beug’ über die Wogen dein schönes Haupt,
lieblicher du als der Geist der Berge,
wenn er um Mittag in einem Sonnenstrahl
über das Schweigen von Morven fährt.

Er ist gefallen, dein Jüngling liegt darnieder,


bleich sank er unter Cuthullins Schwert.
Nimmer wird Mut deinen Liebling mehr reizen,
das Blut von Königen zu vergießen.

Trenar, der liebliche Trenar starb


O Mädchen von Inistore!
Seine grauen Hunde heulen daheim,
sie sehn seinen Geist vorüberziehn.
Sein Bogen hängt ungespannt in der Halle,
nichts regt sich auf der Haide der Rehe.

Original English Ossian/MacPherson Text


NOTE: The anonymous German translation set by Brahms does not appear on this page,

but a link to the text does. The German translation is surprisingly accurate.
There

are two major differences: (1) the German text renders the last line of stanza 2

as “to shed the blood of kings” instead of “to match the blood of kings” and (2)

The last line of stanza 3 is rendered in the German text as “no sound is on the
heath

of his hinds (stags)” instead of “no sound is in the hall of his hinds.”

A Section (Stanzas 1-2)


0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction from the horns, playing in their typical “horn fifth”
harmony.

They anticipate the main vocal phrase of the A section. It is a solemn, archaic,

quiet, dirge-like melody with an incessant, steady long-short-short rhythm


(interrupted
at the end of each line by two beats of “straight“ rhythm). At the end, as a lead-
in

to the vocal entry, the horns begin to play the repeated, march-like octaves they

will adopt under the voices.


0:21 [m. 9]--Stanza 1, lines 1-2. The voices enter, singing these two lines to the

music of the horn introduction, in fuller harmony. The horns play march-like
octaves

under the voices. They steadily remain on “C” under the first line, but move to

other notes during the second.


0:40 [m. 17]--Stanza 1, lines 3-4. These lines are set to a contrasting phrase
with

colorful, non-conventional harmonic progressions that emphasize the “archaic”


nature

of the setting. The horns drop out and the harp makes its first entry, playing
chords

on each beat. There is one interjection of horn octaves between the two lines.

The steady long-short-short rhythm is maintained with “straight” interruptions at

the end of each line.


0:59 [m. 25]--Stanza 1, lines 5-6. The main melody returns, but it is moved down

an octave and below the top of the vocal texture. The melody is in the lower
sopranos

for line 5, and in the altos for line 6. The harmonies around and above the melody

are very close. The horns and harp now all play with the main rhythm in harmonies,

with the top horn and the top harp voice doubling the melody in line 5. The top
horn

continues to double the melody in line 6, but the harp plays more isolated chords

emphasizing the cadence.


1:18 [m. 33]--Stanza 2, lines 1-2. The dirge has thus far been very quiet, but
with

these lines, there is a sudden outburst, marked forte. The material is the
contrasting

phrase from stanza 1, lines 3-4 (from 0:40). The “straight” rhythm at the end of

line 1 cuts the notes in half to accommodate extra syllables, and the upbeat at the

beginning is removed. At the end of the line 2, the single-syllable “Schwert” is

set to the same two notes as the two-syllable “Berge” was before. The harp is now

very active, with leaping octaves and chords played on every half-beat. The horns
double two of the voices in line 1, but drop out in line 2.
1:36 [m. 41]--Stanza 2, lines 3-4. A return to the main melody in its original
voicing

and harmonization, but at a much louder volume. The harp begins a very rich
triplet

rhythm in upward-moving groups of chords and octaves. The horns blast out octaves

and harmonies in rhythm with the voices.


1:54 [m. 49]--Instrumental interlude with hints of the major key. The harp
continues

its triplet rhythm. It and the horns blast out two bars very loudly, and then
there

is a very quiet response with horn octaves. This pattern is repeated with the
melody

of the two loud bars a step lower. The quiet response leads solidly back to the

minor key.
2:13 [m. 57]--In a coda-like phrase, the voices again sing the first two lines of

stanza 1 to a new, smoother melody that adds more shorter notes shared by single

syllables. The mid-voice sopranos only join on the second line. The harp doubles

the top sopranos and altos in “straight” rhythm in the left hand, playing against

repeated off-beat octaves that are still in the triplet rhythm in the right, thus

creating a two-against-three rhythm between the hands of the harp. The horns play

three long-held low octave C’s. The vocal phrase itself is extended at the
cadence,

pronouncing an extra final syllable on “Inistore,” and the harp continues after
that,

gradually becoming less active. This cadence and harp extension move surprisingly

and firmly to the major key. The resulting twelve-bar phase provides some relief

from the previously incessant eight-bar phrases. Two isolated octave C’s from the

harp end the A section.


B Section (Stanza 3)--A-flat Major
2:44 [m. 69]--Stanza 3, lines 1-2. The octave harp C’s at the end of A bridge to

the new key of A-flat major. The altos are split, creating a four-part vocal
texture

for the only time in Op. 17. The reason for this is that this phrase on these two

lines is sung a cappella. The melody and harmonies are smoother than in the A
section
except for a dissonant outburst on the repeated word “starb” (“died”), that is
accented

and syncopated across the bar line. The second line settles to a gentle half-close

after a ten-bar phrase.


3:02 [m. 79]--Stanza 3, lines 3-4. The voices sing in unison for the first time

on a narrow, winding, ominous line depicting the howling dogs and the passing
ghost.

The horns join them in unison. The voices harmonize at the end of both lines in

two dissonant, minor-key outbursts, the horns moving to an octave. The second of

these is higher and leads seamlessly back to the major-key harmony.


3:19 [m. 87]--Lines 1 and 2 are reprised to the same a cappella music as at 2:44

[m. 69], but the initial syllable of “Trenar” is stretched out, beginning at the

end of the previous bar. The horns also now emphasize the dissonant and accented

repetition of “starb,” briefly breaking the a cappella sound.


3:40 [m. 97]--Reprise of lines 3 and 4, but now the voices sing in harmony. The

altos are no longer split, and the four-part harmony is abandoned. The music is

similar to the ominous line at 3:02 [m. 79], but the harmonization of the voices

lends it a different character. The horns, now in octaves, play the original
winding

line. The key, however, is not A-flat minor, but C minor, preparing for the return

of that key in the final section.


3:56 [m. 105]--Lines 1 and 2 are again reprised with the first syllable of the name

“Trenar” stretched out in the same way. The harmonies of the extension are
different,

however, as they are approaching from a different key. The music of the reprise

is essentially the same, returning to A-flat, where it was heard both previous
times.

It is not sung a cappella, however. The four-voice vocal texture is reduced to

three voices, and the harp plays rising triplets against it. The top horn plays

during the first line. The horns, along with a full harp chord, emphasize the
dissonant

repetition of “starb,” but the horns drop out during line 2 and the left hand of

the harp plays punctuating octaves, leaving the triplets to the right hand.
4:17 [m. 115]--Stanza 3, lines 5-6. These lines are finally heard on an extremely

quiet, repeated unison note (A-flat in line 5 and G in line 6). The harp plays
isolated
harmonies under this, suggesting the main rhythm of the A section. Line 5 remains

in A-flat, but in the minor version of that key. Line 6 moves strongly toward the

home key of C minor. The word “nichts” (“nothing”) is sung in isolation before
beginning

line 6. The horns join at the end of line 6 with an interjection. The harp,
assisted

by two more horn interjections, leads back to the A material in a six-bar


instrumental

extension.
A' Section (Stanza 1, lines 1-2)
4:51 [m. 131]--The harp cadence leads to a reprise of the main melody, sung by the

altos alone in a low octave. The top horn harmonizes a third above the altos,
while

the bottom horn plays repeated low C’s below them. In the second line, the upper

harmony of the top horn is less regular and the bottom horn moves to different
notes.

The harp is absent until the cadence, where it leads into the next phrase with
rapid

descending arpeggios in a fast triplet rhythm. The horns move to octave C’s,
anticipating

the next phrase.


5:09 [m. 139]--The voices now all sing the main melody in the original harmony and

voicing. Under this, the horns play their original octave line from 0:21 [m. 9],

while the harp plays very rapid descending triplet arpeggios in the right hand
against

an oscillating line in “straight” (but fast) rhythm in the left hand.


5:27 [m. 147]--Reprise of the instrumental interlude from 1:54 [m. 49]. The
material

is similar, but it is no longer “instrumental.” The horns play the exact same
figures

as they did in the interlude. The harp line is very similar, but the triplets are

now twice as fast and descending, continuing the pattern from the phrase that was

just completed. Most importantly, the voices literally “cry” out the word “Wein’!”

(which is an imperative--“Cry!”) four times, loudly and with a dissonant


“diminished”

harmony at the beginning of each loud two-bar outburst, and quietly on a consonant

major chord at the beginning of each quiet response.


5:46 [m. 155]--Reprise of the coda-like phrase from 2:13 [m. 57]. Brahms marks it

Poco più lento (A little more slowly). The vocal harmony and lines are exactly as

they were at the end of the first A section. The horns again play three low octave

C’s. The harp, however, continues its quick descending triplets in both hands.

At the cadence, which is again in major, the horns join the harp in the extension,

which is very similar to the one that ended the first A section, but does not slow

down or thin to octave C’s. Instead, the ending is a somewhat consoling C-major

chord. Brahms indicates a full bar of rests at the end to preserve the twelve-bar

phrase structure.
6:28--END OF SONG [166 mm.]
END OF SET

STRING SEXTET NO. 1 in B-FLAT MAJOR, OP. 18


Recording: Verdi Quartet (Susanne Rabenschlag, 1st Violin; Johannes Hehrmann, 2nd

violin; Karin Wolf, viola; Zoltan Paulich, cello) with Hermann Voss, 2nd Viola;
Peter

Buck, 2nd cello [Hänssler 98.539]


Published 1862.

Brahms regarded the string quartet as a hallowed genre, and treated it with the
same

reverence he famously held for the symphony. In his first works for strings
without

piano, he added “extra” instruments to the quartet to get a sense of writing for

strings while having two more instruments to aid him with harmony and texture. The

advantage of this is seen at the outset of the first sextet, when the first cello

presents the opening theme against the bass provided by the second cello, something

that would be impossible in a quartet. The pair of violas often plays in parallel

harmony, creating another sound that cannot be heard in a quartet. In a sense,


Brahms

was conceding that it was easier to write for more instruments to “get his feet
wet”

before attempting the leaner and more “hallowed” genre of the quartet, for which

he claimed to have made over 20 abortive attempts. The first of the two sextets

is an excellent product of the youthful Brahms and technically, the earliest of his
chamber works that is played with any regularity (the original version of the Op.

8 Trio being rarely heard today). He still uses a traditional Beethovenian scherzo

movement here (in third position), something he would largely abandon later on
(but,

as he would do later, he sets it in a contrasting key). The outer movements, while

extremely expansive, have very clear-cut classical forms. Both are sunny,
melodious

movements in an almost “pastoral” vein. There are parallels between them, as both

begin with the cello presenting the principal theme, and both end with prominent

plucked (pizzicato) parts. The second movement is perhaps the most famous. It is

a noble, if quite square Theme and Variations that boasts an especially exquisite

coda. The variations are structurally strict, but diverse transformations. This

movement exists in an often-played version for solo piano. Its stern minor key
adds

a striking contrast to the rest of the Sextet’s brightness. The character of the

work is often compared to that of the two orchestral Serenades (Opp. 11 and 16)
with

which it is roughly contemporary.

IMSLP WORK PAGE


ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institute Lübeck--Color)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck--Monochrome)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)

1st Movement: Allegro ma non troppo (Sonata-Allegro form). B-FLAT MAJOR, 3/4 time.

EXPOSITION
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1. A warm, expressive melody played by the first cello in a
swaying

triple meter, with the second cello accompanying as a bass. The first viola plays

an undulating background.
0:17 [m. 10]--The violins enter, leading into a second statement of the melody from

the first violin and first viola in octaves. It is more fully scored, with the
first

cello and second violin playing the undulating background. The second viola has

not yet entered.


0:32 [m. 20]--A new phrase increases the intensity of the theme. The second viola

finally enters, joining the first cello and second violin on syncopated repeated
notes as the music makes an unexpected detour to D-flat major.
0:50 [m. 31]--The first violin plays a winding broken-chord line, then, with the

first viola, leads the other instruments, who slide upward chromatically (skipping

no notes) in thirds, to a gentle cadence in B-flat.


1:09 [m. 43]--Transition. A fragment of Theme 1 in second violin and second cello,

against a syncopated background from second viola, leads to a new element in the

first violin. This is a series of winding, melancholy triplets with active


accompaniment

from the first viola. Motion toward F major.


1:23 [m. 51]--Restatement at a higher level of the Theme 1 fragment with syncopated

background, followed by winding, melancholy triplets in the first violin. The


accompaniment

moves from first viola to second cello, with the bass remaining in the first cello.

The triplets are extended by two bars. The first violin slows to a “straight”
rhythm.

Brahms marks for a slight slowing as the music reaches the new key of A major.
1:41 [m. 61]--Transition Theme. While this is a new melody, it is in the “wrong”

key and another melody in the expected key of F will follow. This melody is
therefore

properly labeled as a “transition theme.” Plucked notes from second viola and
second

cello punctuate short rising, richly harmonized phrases from the other instruments.

These gentle phrases strive ever higher. The accompanying instruments play two

bowed “bridge“ passages, then the second viola introduces distinctive plucked
rising

arpeggios. These arpeggios are then bowed by first cello and second viola as the

music moves decisively to F major.


2:18 [m. 85]--Theme 2. Right at the cadence, the first cello begins the sweeping,

exuberant second theme. Second violin and second viola provide an accompaniment

in a clashing triplet rhythm with wide arpeggios. The second cello provides a
steady

bass (F major).
2:30 [m. 94]--First violin and first viola take Theme 2. The first cello joins the

accompaniment, but in straight rhythms like the theme. The theme reaches higher

and higher before being suddenly interrupted.


2:42 [m. 103]--A brief moment of disquiet as the violas and first cello pluck an

isolated figure from Theme 2 with dissonant, chromatic notes. These are played
against

a long held note (then a third) from the first violin and a dissonant, oscillating

second violin. Bowed cellos on the Theme 2 fragment lead to the Closing Theme.
2:48 [m. 107]--Closing Theme. It is derived from the Theme 2 fragment that was
just

isolated. It begins in gentle harmony, with the cellos providing an oscillating

line in octaves. On the second phrase, the violas move away from the melody and

provide dovetailing descents in response, which are picked up by the cellos, who

play them in rhythm with the theme (F major).


3:00 [m. 115]--The first violin adds a new countermelody with dotted (long-short)

rhythm on top of the Theme 2 fragment. The second violin and first viola begin to

play plucked chords. The music very gradually intensifies.


3:11 [m. 123]--The countermelody is transferred to the second viola and second
cello.

The violins now play the dovetailing descending figures. The first viola
continues

its plucked chords, now played with the first cello. The climax is reached, but

quickly subsides as the exposition ends with echoes of the countermelody from the

second violin and second viola. A hint at Theme 1 in the second violin and first

cello serves as a transition to the repeat.


EXPOSITION REPEATED
3:38 [m. 1]--Theme 1 from the first cello, as at the beginning.
3:51 [m. 10]--Violin statement of Theme 1 melody, as at 0:17.
4:07 [m. 20]--New phrase and motion to D-flat major, as at 0:32.
4:24 [m. 31]--Winding line and cadence in B-flat, as at 0:50.
4:43 [m. 43]--Transition with Theme 1 fragment and melancholy triplets, as at 1:09.

4:57 [m. 51]--Continuation of transition at higher level and motion to A major, as

at 1:23.
5:15 [m. 61]--Transition Theme in A major, as at 1:41.
5:52 [m. 85]--Theme 2 from the cello in F major, as at 2:18.
6:04 [m. 94]--First violin and viola on Theme 2, as at 2:30.
6:16 [m. 103]--Dissonant moment of disquiet, as at 2:42.
6:22 [m. 107]--Closing Theme derived from Theme 2 fragment, as at 2:48.
6:34 [m. 115]--Countermelody from first violin and slow intensification, as at
3:00.

6:46 [m. 123]--Buildup to climax and end of exposition, as at 3:11. The hint at

Theme 1 in the second violin and first cello now transitions out of the exposition

into the development section.


DEVELOPMENT
7:12 [m. 141]--The development emerges seamlessly and begins to work with Theme 1

in the key of G minor (relative to the home major key of B-flat). Fragments of
Theme

1 are passed between the first viola and the two violins. The accompanying
instruments

are plucked. An arching figure in shorter notes emerges, leading into the next
section.

7:38 [m. 158]--Motion to a new minor key, A minor. A three-note descending


arpeggio

beginning on an upbeat is isolated from Theme 1. It was heard in the previous


passage

as well. It is passed between second violin and first cello in alternation. The

two violas in harmony present overlapping, syncopated responses that connect the

violin and cello. The music moves to D minor. The first violin enters with the

arpeggio beginning on the downbeat, creating a rather dense counterpoint at the end

of the passage.
8:00 [m. 173]--Forceful development of the triplets from the transition at 1:09 and

4:43 [m. 43] in G minor. First violin and then first viola play them against a
rich

and fully scored accompaniment in “straight” rhythm. Buildup to a huge climax with

repeated notes and full scoring for all six instruments. The two violins play in

triplet rhythm. The violins and cellos suddenly drop out at the top of the climax,

leaving the two violas, whose pulsations slow to longer notes, to bring the music

back down to a quiet level.


8:29 [m. 192]--Development of the transition theme from 1:41 and 5:15 [m. 61] in

E minor. It is first heard in the violins against the continuing viola pulsation.

It is then played by the first cello. The cello statement changes key, to D
minor.

The two violins and the first cello then play the theme in imitation, leading to

a full cadence in D minor.


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