Song 1: Wie erkenn ich dein Treulieb
The entire song is only 42 seconds and there is not much change throughout the piece either. Brahms wanted his entire Lieder to be simple and that shows in this piece. In this song, it shows the structure on AA’AA’. The melody and rhythm of each line in the song is extremely similar. The only difference in each line is the rhythm of the last measure. In the third system it says “He is dead and gone, lady, He is dead and gone. When sung in German the last word is FrÃ¤ulein (Lady) which is stressed by the absence of the syncopated rhythm that is usually there. The change in the melody consists of the two notes at the end of the phrase either going up a fourth or going down a third.
There is also a change in tempo from one measure to the next in each line. In the A’ lines, there is a ritardando at the end of each phrase. There is not much dynamic contrast at all throughout the entire song other than a few decrescendos. The accompaniment in this piece follows the vocalist and plays almost the same exact melody as what is being sung. The lyrics to this piece are talking about someone who has died and the woman who is mourning him. “At his head a grass green turf, at his feet a stone. I imagine this means that he has been buried.”
Song 2: Sein Leichenhemd Weiss wie Schnee zu seh’n
This piece is also extremely short with only 30 seconds in length. This piece is only two lines. The rhythmic difference between the two lines is that the first line is much more “choppy with the dotted notes than the flowing tied eighth notes. Brahms emphasizes the words “blumen (flowers) and “liebes (love) with the use of melismas on both. Each phrase begins with a crescendo and then decrescandos to the end. There is a little bit of ritardando on the very last two notes of the piece. The lyrics to this piece continue to speak of a man’s grave, but it also mentions the sweetness of nature and the beauty of the mountain’s snow. This is probably her appreciating nature, but still upset by the man’s death. It’s definitely a more bittersweet piece.
Song 3: Auf morgen ist Sankt Valentins Tag
This piece is much longer that the first two pieces. It is also very cheery in comparison to the other pieces in the lieder. There is a dancelike feel to this piece created by the triple meter in the piece. Although the piece is on the cheerier side, the lyrics hold a deeper and darker meaning. The lyrics say “at your window, to be your valentine, this is showing the desperation and how pathetic the story is. The melody starts off very sweet, but slowly gets more and more desperate. It flows nicely until after the first phrase and then it begins to be sung more bitterly. The bitterness and the desperation is also shown in how the words “will sein (to be) and “gingnim (never) are the highest and longest notes in the entire song. On the way to those notes there is a massive crescendo throughout the previous phrase. After the high notes there is a very quick decrescendo as the music calms again.
Song 4: Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloÎ²
This piece is also very short. This piece is very sweet, but also very somber. The lyrics state “and in his grave rain’d many a tear. You must sing, adown adown. This line is showing someone in mourning. It even sounds as though the woman is crying when she is singing the line “leider ach lieder and “ihr mÃ¼Î²t singen nunter. There is also a lot of suspension in the piece as well. The piano part in the right hand mostly plays along with the voice.
Song 5: Und kommt er nicht mehr zurÃ¼ck
This piece is pleading to God to grant this man mercy. She is coming to terms with this man being dead. The piano part has an almost constant stepping up and down the scale pattern. The song follows an AABBC pattern. During each section of A or B the lyrics are repetitive and constantly pleading. There is not very much dynamic contrast other than a few crescendos and decrescendos here and there.