Brahms' Settings of Poetry

In this region of the Davidsbündler site, we provide a series of essays concerning the method by which Brahms conceptualized the composition of the Lied or classical song, and in particular, how he "translated" poetic conceptions from the text to the language of music.

Title and opus number Text Article
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53Excerpt from "A Harz Journey in Winter," Johann Wolfgang GoetheIt Springs Eternal
Nšnie, Op. 82"Nšnie," Friedrich SchillerThe Power of Irony
Geistliches Wiegenlied, Op. 91"Little Canticle of the Virgin," Lope de Vega
(German translation as "Spiritual Lullaby" by Geibel)
The Socratic Method of Johannes Brahms
Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht, Op. 96"O Death, that is the Cooling Night," Heinrich HeinePoetry, Paradox and Song

Heine's poem, Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht, and Schiller's Nšnie have a "family relationship" with other poems, which address, in different ways, the paradox of mortality: the physical body of Man must eventually grow weak and die, but the products of his creative reason continue to reach out and change the universe long after the body has expired.

Compare the following poems:
Friedrich Schiller's Melancholy ~ to Laura; and
Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ode to the West Wind.

...and as an added bonus:

Brahms analyzes a poem by Goethe!