Brahms Op 79 Analysis Essay

ABSTRACT: Brahms’s Intermezzo op. 119, no. 3 is structured around a motive with two components—one melodic, one harmonic—that operate sometimes separately and sometimes together. The global harmonic trajectory of the piece is embodied in the combination of these two components; local harmonic motion proceeds through an expanded LR-cycle, with periodic short cuts from one zone of the cycle to another. The A section unfolds a double-tonic complex while introducing chromatic pitch classes in a carefully planned order; the B section is densely chromatic, featuring interlocking transpositions of the harmonic component. Rhythmic transformations of the motive are also addressed, including a previously unnoted motivic connection with op. 119, no. 2.

[1] Johannes Brahms’s skill with motivic development is well known. Beginning with Arnold Schoenberg’s famous essay “Brahms the Progressive,”(1) analysts have demonstrated time and time again the masterful ways in which Brahms manipulates his motivic ideas.

[2] Motivic development is especially concentrated in the late piano music op. 116 through 119, written in 1892 and 1893. About op. 118, no. 6, for instance, John Rink (1999, 97) writes that “to characterize [this piece] as a motive in search of a tonic would hardly do justice to the tremendous dramatic impulse generated by Brahms’s incessant reharmonizations of the almost ubiquitous melodic shape.” Notable about many of these pieces is the extreme economy of material: the way in which a single idea is transformed in myriad ways.(2)

[3] Among the op. 119 pieces, No. 1 has received the most analytic attention.(3) Op. 119, no. 2 has also been studied at length, particularly for its re-casting of a six-pitch motto introduced in the A section in the B section.(4) The literature on Nos. 3 and 4 is relatively scant, however, quite possibly for opposite reasons: whereas No. 4 is the longest, weightiest and most complex in the set, No. 3 is, at least on the surface, the most innocuous. No. 4 is treated in a recent dissertation by Samuel Ng and a paper by Frank Samarotto;(5) the only relatively comprehensive analysis of No. 3 is in a dissertation by Camilla Cai.(6) The lighthearted mood of No. 3 masks an underlying sophistication: the piece is remarkable, not only for its economy of material, but also for its use of a double-tonic complex and its serial ordering of chromatic pitch classes, two musical procedures not usually associated with the music of Brahms.(7) That the motive is exclusively diatonic places the chromaticism into especial relief.

Example 1. The Form

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Example 2. The Two Components of the Motive

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[4] Like many of the late piano pieces (and like the first two in op. 119), the Intermezzo is in ternary form, as shown in Example 1. Section A1 is in two nearly identical parts, each of which progresses from C major to A major; the B section moves from A major back to C major; and section A2 is exclusively in C.

[5] In its first appearance, the motive embodies these two keys, which in section A1 form a double-tonic complex. Before examining the double-tonic complex in more detail, we must first examine the motive itself. It consists of the melodic cell and harmonic progression given in Example 2. The melodic cell, labeled “J”, consists of the interval pattern ascending 3rd, ascending 2nd and descending 2nd. A clef is omitted from the first part of the example because J appears in different scale locations in different parts of the piece. J’s first occurrence begins on .

[6] The harmonic component of the motive is dubbed “DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH” after its constituent root motions. In all statements of this harmonic progression, the descending third is diatonic—the quality of the third depending upon the quality of the starting chord—and the ascending fifth is perfect. In this first appearance, the descending third is minor. Moreover, the total pitch-class content of the progression in its first appearance is diatonic.

[7] The melodic cell and harmonic progression—J and DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH— sometimes occur independently, but for the most part interact to create a larger unit. This larger unit, given at the bottom of Example 2, is the motive of my title.(8) Again, the fact that the motive is exclusively diatonic is significant, because it makes the chromatic pitch classes especially salient.

Example 3. Rhythmic Setting of J, mm. 1–3

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[8] The opening of the piece animates the motive by repeating and varying the duration of J while arpeggiating the chords of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH. Example 3 annotates the melody of m. 1 through the downbeat of m. 3, which fuses together three Js.(9) By fusing together three Js and altering the duration of the final pitch of each J (the durations are , , and , for the three occurrences, respectively), Brahms creates a symmetrical rhythmic structure.(10) The dots below the staff indicate metric position: two dots indicate a strong beat, one dot a weak beat.(11) The first J starts on a strong beat and concludes on a weak beat. The third J starts on a weak beat and concludes on a strong beat. The middle J begins and ends on a weak part of two different beats. This rhythmic organization marks the beginning and ending of thrice-J as points of departure and arrival.(12) Furthermore, mm. 1–3 constitute a single hypermeasure: the sequence beginning in m. 4 retrospectively marks that measure as a hypermetric downbeat, segregating mm. 1–3.

[9] The textural and harmonic context also support hearing mm. 1–3 as a unit. The melody, beginning with thrice-J, is in an inner voice, played by the inside of the pianist’s right hand. The upper voices support the rhythmic structure just discussed, with dotted quarter notes at the conclusion of the first and third instances of J only. Harmonically, the conclusion of thrice-J coincides with the conclusion of the first DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH. In the first two statements of J, the third pitch (A) is not harmonized; rather, it is an upper neighbor to the chordal 5th. But in the third statement of J, when A descends to G it pulls C down to B, and the bass complies: the bass pattern in m. 3 is a transposition up a 3rd of that in mm. 1 and 2. Consequently, the last eighth of m. 2 sounds more like an independent harmony—a bona fide A-minor triad—than the “mere” neighbors in the first two Js. Put another way: while the first two inner-voice As are complete neighbors to the 5th of the tonic triad, the third A bridges two different harmonies, C major and E minor.(13) In dramatic terms, it is as if the incessant repetition of J induces the harmonic motion across the barline of mm. 2–3. To paraphrase Schoenberg, pitch class A is the “tonal problem” of the piece, creating an imbalance that the rest of the piece serves to rectify.(14)

[10] J’s suggestion of an A-minor harmony is played out by the music that follows. The keys of C major and A minor (later inflected to major) “compete” with each other, interacting in a double-tonic complex.(15) In m. 3 (pickup to beat 2), J begins a fourth time but does not complete the neighbor figure; instead, the melody continues upward –––, forcing the upper voices to shift upward. The voice that descended from C to B (on the downbeat of m. 3) has thus returned to C; the right hand plays a C-major triad, seemingly assenting to the C-major tonic and banishing the problem pitch class A. But the bass, instead of returning to C as well, moves to A—belatedly reinforcing the persistent A in the right-hand part of mm. 1–2. The sonority on the downbeat of m. 4 is ACEG, the combination of an A-minor triad and C-major triad.

[11] This “miscommunication” between the hands continues. The left-hand part in mm. 4–5 seemingly tries to establish A minor with the bass line –––, and the right-hand part articulates a sequence that descends by step beginning in m. 4, landing on an A-minor triad in m. 6. But A minor’s leading tone, G, is notably absent in the second half of m. 5 (in both parts), and the left hand plays C instead of A on the downbeat of m. 6.(16) Essentially, the two hands have exchanged places here relative to the downbeat of m. 4. Up until this point, the piece contains not a single chromatic pitch class.

Example 4. A Prototype for mm. 4–12

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Example 5. Sequence with Alterations, mm. 4–9

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[12] Two dovetailed sequences—incorporating significant alterations—occur in mm. 4–12, a passage whose hypermeter is the most complex of the piece. The alterations introduce the first chromatic pitch classes. Example 4 sets the stage for discussing these alterations by providing a 4-measure (and 4-hyperbeat) prototype for mm. 4–12 that ends with a half cadence. The prototype removes the A-vs.-C conflict at the beginning of m. 4 by transposing the circled bass pitches up a 3rd, and cadences on the dominant in m. 7, removing the large phrase expansion in the music while also normalizing the irregular hypermeter of this section.(17) The sequence here continues the rhythmic pattern of the melody of m. 3.

[13] Example 5 approaches the musical score in two stages. In part a. is an unaltered sequence based on the music of mm. 4–5.(18) As shown at b., Brahms alters the sequence by first repeating the chord in m. 6—indicated by the dotted portion of the curved brackets—and by changing E to E. E, significantly, is the first chromatic pitch class in the piece. The 7th chord expected on beat 2 of m. 6 is thus delayed until beat 1 of m. 7; this chord is chromatically altered as well, with F substituting for the expected F. At the same time, this interruption of the first sequence restores the rhythmic pattern of the melody of m. 1.(19) The two chromatic pitch classes tonicize G, V of C, as F alone does in the prototype.(20) Despite the G chord’s position, the chord sounds like a tonic due to the cadential figure – in the inner-voice melody. For this reason, the prototype in Example 4 places the chord here in position; the melody’s ascending-4th leap (m. 7, b. 2 of the score) is conceptually a bass voice that has been transferred to an inner voice and metrically displaced.

[14] As shown below the staff in part b., part of the previous pattern is absorbed into a new two-measure pattern that participates in an ascending-second sequence; mm. 8–9 may be heard as an internal phrase expansion, repeating the hypermetric “3–4” of mm. 6–7.(21) Since the second pattern of this new sequence begins with a diminished triad instead of a minor one, there is no room for the chromatic descending line found in the top voice of the first pattern, necessitating an alteration; strikingly, this alteration employs the same two chromatic pitch classes as the earlier one—D and F (one enharmonically reinterpreted)—but serving in a tonicization of V of A minor. Because the second sequence ascends by step, the music of m. 8 has returned to the pitch level of m. 5; the earlier “failed” tonicization of A minor is carried out more successfully here, introducing pitch class G. The music of m. 9 is repeated in m. 10, with C replacing C. This varied repetition seems to clinch A major’s independence from C major, since C is diatonic only in the former key. The sostenuto marking encourages the pianist to linger for a moment to highlight the arrival of A major. In m. 11, the right-hand part of mm. 9 and 10 is repeated, but the A-major triad is in position this time. The chord is still on a weak beat, however, and its arrival is undermined by a drawn-out 4-3 suspension. The threefold repetition of the pitch material in mm. 9–11 retrospectively causes a reinterpretation of m. 9 as a hypermetric downbeat.(22) Two chromatic pitch classes then revert to their diatonic form: F to F, serving contextually to reinforce A major (just as E earlier reinforced V of C), followed by C to C. F is reinflected to F to prepare the return of the motive.(23)

Example 6. Roster of Chromatic PCs (First Appearance) and their Function

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[15] The chromatic pitch classes introduced in mm. 4–10 act as agents in the double tonic complex. Example 6 collates these pitch classes, listing their location and harmonic function. Witness again the pure diatonicism of mm. 1–6 (b. 1) and the context in which E/D and F are introduced, first as agents of C’s dominant, then as agents of A’s dominant. Next to arrive are G and C. Only one pitch class—B/A—remains to be introduced; it arrives in m. 30, a significant harmonic juncture in the B section that I will return to momentarily.

[16] The second half of A1 is identical in pitches and rhythms to its first half until the last eighth of m. 23.(24) This time, the 4–3 suspension resolves within the beat; in place of the earlier line D–C–C is C–C–B, which continues to A at the beginning of the B section. The bass in the second half of m. 24 is changed from A to E relative to m. 12, creating the first cadential in the piece, followed by the first strong cadence, in A major.

[17] After its prominent statement at the opening of each half of A1, the motive recedes from the foreground until section B; only its harmonic component, untransposed, remains present but not very prominent. The bass motions from A to E in mm. 4–5 (by way of intervening chords) and in mm. 8–9 echo the same motion in mm. 2–3. In the B section, the motive remains closer to the foreground; in particular, DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH is subject to a most remarkable working-out. The route from C major to A major was relatively straightforward; the route back is not so simple.

Example 7. Harmonic Plan of the B Section

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[18] In m. 25, thrice-J returns, but the lack of accompaniment, low register, and sudden piano undermine A major’s big moment. J begins here on rather than , so J and DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH have been transposed by different intervals relative to m. 1: J is transposed down a 5th, while DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH is transposed down a minor 3rd. As shown in Example 7, mm. 25–29 outline a statement of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH beginning on A major and concluding on C major; unlike the statements of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH in the A section, the concluding triad here is major rather than minor. This modal change makes the second and third chords of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH sound like tonic and dominant, respectively, a point I shall return to. Immediately following the completion of thrice-J in m. 27, the music of mm. 23 (b. 2)–24 returns, transposed up a major 3rd and with a thicker texture. In mm. 33–35, DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH appears down a half step relative to mm. 25–29, beginning on A major and ending on C major—again, note the conclusion on a major triad. A small-scale echo of this same transposition occurs in mm. 39–41.

Example 8. Ascending-3rd Sequence (mm. 30–33) Based on m. 2

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[19] Example 8 illustrates how the music navigates from the DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH on A to the climactic one on A. Mm. 29–30 are a transposition of mm. 25–26 up a major 3rd.(25) If the music had continued according to this sequence, it would end up traversing the major-3rd cycle A-C-F-A and fail to return to C major. The music breaks out of the cycle by pivoting between two different DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTHs: m. 30 contains the second chord of a DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH beginning on C/D major (Example 7), which serves also as the first chord of a new DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH beginning on B minor (Example 8). This initiation of a new DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH a third lower restores the transpositional relationship between J and DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH from m. 1. Strikingly, this harmonic turning point coincides with the completion of the aggregate by B (Example 6). Measure 30, based on m. 2, is the pattern for a new ascending-3rd sequence that contains three overlapped statements of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH.(26) The last two bass pitches of each measure in this sequence are a 3rd “too low” relative to the pattern in m. 2; by putting the root of the second chord in the bass, this alteration strengthens the harmonic motion of each DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH relative to the opening, where the existence of an independent A-minor triad was only weakly implied.(27) The harmonic sequence ends in m. 33, but the pattern of overlapped DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTHs continues: the B-major triad in m. 33 is the initiating chord of the DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH that concludes the B section, mentioned earlier in connection with Example 7. In this final DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH, J has disappeared; harmony trumps melody here. Relative to the interlocking DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTHs in mm. 30–33, this DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH is rhythmically augmented, with each harmony occupying one measure. The exclusive focus on harmony also crowds out any hypermetric ambiguity: mm. 25–40 comprise four 4-beat hypermeasures.

Example 9. <HWW> Tetrachords in mm. 30–41

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[20] As shown in Example 9, the underlying voice-leading pattern established by the sequence continues beyond the conclusion of the sequence (m. 33), and even beyond the conclusion of the DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH chain (m. 35). The example highlights instances of the Phrygian tetrachord (half-whole-whole).(28) The first two tetrachords (on F, then on C) are straightforward reductions of the melody. The thunderous arrival on a C-major triad, the goal of the whole passage, contains a less obvious statement of the next tetrachord in the pattern (beginning on G) embedded within a series of descending 3rds. At the same time, the pitches on successive downbeats—G and F—set up an expectation for E that is realized only in m. 41 when the theme returns, as shown by the bracket above the staff. During the prolongation of the C harmony, a Phrygian tetrachord on C is outlined, the second half of which participates in the small-scale DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH on A. Finally, the melody in m. 41 can be heard as initiating a WWH tetrachord beginning on G.(29)

Example 10. Inexact Augmentation of J in mm. 39–41 and its Overlap with the Recapitulatory J

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Example 11. Augmentation of J in mm. 41–43 as Reference to op. 119, no. 2

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[21] In the forte DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH statement (mm. 33ff.), F minor sounds like tonic and C major like dominant. Rhetorically, the passage beginning in m. 35 sounds like a retransition. Coinciding with the small-scale echo in mm. 39–41 is a re-introduction of J given in Example 10. When we hear C-E-F, we expect the continuation in the top staff of the example. But the music proceeds as given in the bottom staff: the third pitch of J is held for over three beats, and the expected E never arrives. In its place is E, which, although unexpected from the standpoint of the J-statement beginning on C, conforms to the statement of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH within whose echo it is embedded. At the same time, the E initiates another statement of J.(30) Reinforcing this E is the E an octave higher, which (as Example 9 showed) participates in a large-scale stepwise descending 3rd spanning mm. 35–41.

[22] The overlap between two forms of J here is only one way in which the music disguises the return of the opening material. Tonally, C major was ushered in as a dominant of F minor (m. 35); but what is initially heard as a dominant is actually the tonic: what first sounds like i to V is really—or rather, becomes—iv to I. Brahms exploits this well-known ambiguity of the tonal system to marvelous effect here.(31) Rhythmically, the statement of J beginning on E is in augmentation, as shown in Example 11: it is almost as if J has been listening while DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH held center stage. Recall that DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH is augmented from one measure to two measures in mm. 33ff., while J is absent; in mm. 41ff., J is augmented relative to its original statement. (Also, it would have been too abrupt for J to return in its original rhythmic form after the 3 1/3-beat-long F4 in mm. 39–40.) But three statements of thus-augmented J would take too long. Brahms’s solution is ingenious: only two Js are stated, and the second J is shortened to EAG, omitting the first G. In so doing, the music makes an explicit reference to op. 119, no. 2: this shortened form of J in op. 119, no. 3 traces a transposed retrograde of the first four pitches of the six-pitch motto of op. 119, no. 2, as shown in Example 11. The last line of the example transposes the melody of the codetta, which chains together three statements of the abbreviated motto.(32) Since op. 119 no. 2 ends with the abbreviated motto, the motivic relationship between the two pieces can be brought out diachronically if the two pieces are played in sequence.(33) J then returns in its original form in m. 45.(34)

[23] And speaking of retrogrades, the chromatic pitch classes in section A2 occur in retrograde order relative to section A1 plus B. (See again Example 6.) First comes B in m. 46, then C in m. 47, both acting to tonicize D minor, paralleling the use of the same scale degrees to tonicize G major in mm. 6–7. The remainder are tied to an altered recapitulation of mm. 7–8.(35)

Example 12. Mm. 7–8 and mm. 49–55

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[24] Section A2 is dominated by a lengthy dominant prolongation (mm. 49–65) that reworks the music of mm. 7ff. As shown in Example 12, m. 49 is a transposition of m. 7 down a perfect 5th, an instance of sonata principle; coincident with this transposition is a reversal of strong and weak hypermetric beats that results from the absolute hypermetric regularity of mm. 25–48.(36) Relative to the transposition of m. 7 in m. 49, the music of m. 50 is a whole step too low relative to m. 8; this transposition up a minor 3rd (or down a major 6th) produces pcs A and F that fulfill the retrogression just mentioned, and necessitates the repetition of this material. In m. 50, the lines of m. 8 are re-arranged: the melody line is now on top, and the left-hand part carries both of the chromatic lines from m. 8.(37) The new top line in the piano departs from the reigning transposition up by minor 3rd, stating E in place of E (transposition up a diatonic 3rd). Measure 53, constituting the second pattern of a sequence, is the “correct” transposition of m. 8, but again, one voice is inflected: the melodic sequence begun in m. 52 implies a D at the end of m. 53, but D is inflected to D, producing a curious -to- diminished-3rd across the barline.(38) The expected final chromatic pitch class, D/E, is thus withheld until the “correct” transposition of m. 8. Strikingly, the liquidation here is the opposite of the process in mm. 4–9. In mm. 49–55, a two-measure unit is repeated, then its second measure becomes the pattern for a sequence; in mm. 4–9, a one-measure pattern is lengthened into a two-measure pattern. There is yet another parallel between the two sections having to do with the development of the two figures originally found in mm. 6 and 7: in section A1, the figure from m. 7 is repeated (in mm. 9–11), producing a hypermetric reinterpretation (in m. 9); in section A2, the figure from m. 50—which in turn derives from m. 6 via m. 8—is repeated (in mm. 52–54), producing a hypermetric reinterpretation (in m. 52).

[25] After the highly chromatic journey of the B section, pitch class A presents less of a threat than it did in section A1. The only Cs in section A2 (in mm. 47–48 and 54) occur in contexts that reinforce—or at least do not undermine—C major. Though it is clear now that the key of C is primary, pitch class A continues to have a real presence: in mm. 59–61, a melodic A-E occurs twice, followed by C-G in mm. 61–62.(39) There are prominent A’s in mm. 63 and 64 as well, but they no longer threaten C major since the “problem” has now worked itself out. In mm. 66–68, thrice-J occurs in its rhythmically augmented form (from m. 41) but without its last note so that it fits within the meter.(40) By this point, pitch class A has been so thoroughly integrated that we nearly accept the chord CEGA as tonic.(41)

Example 13. All DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTHs in the Piece

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[26] Example 13 summarizes the harmonic trajectory of the piece. The boldface pitch classes in part a. constitute a circle of ascending perfect 5ths; here the letter names stand for triads. Conceptually, we can think of this circle of 5ths first being embellished by the chords at the half hours that fill in each 5th with two diatonic 3rds, producing the 24-triad LR-cycle.(42) Next, each ascending 3rd is filled in by a DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH, producing a 48-triad cycle that comprises a complete chain of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTHs. The piece traverses only segments of this cycle, as shown by the arcs inside the circle; each arc is labeled with measure numbers. The short cuts across the circle in mm. 26–29 and 34–35 correspond to the two forms of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH that frame the B section, the two that, unlike all the others, begin and end with major triads.(43)

[27] Part b. of Example 13 shows how the length of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH changes throughout the piece: the first two instances—those in the A section—are two measures long measured from downbeat to downbeat. The next two, really one embedded within another, take 2 1/2 and 4 measures. After this lengthening of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH, it is suddenly contracted: three statements in the span of only three measures. The normative two-measure length of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH returns at the point at which J disappears, in m. 33.

[28] My own initial impression of the Intermezzo was of blandness: the absolute diatonicism—in C major, no less!—of the opening and the seemingly meandering harmonic progression discouraged me from continuing beyond the first two lines or so. It was only after taking a closer look that I began to marvel at what Brahms has done here: it no longer seemed bland at the beginning, but subtle, with the diatonicism establishing the tonal problem and throwing each chromatic pitch class into especial relief. The densely chromatic B section, with its lengthy DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH chain and regular hypermeter, complements the sparsely chromatic and hypermetrically irregular A1 section. The strict ordering of the five chromatic pitch classes in the first half of the piece and the reversal of this ordering in the second half is remarkable, and warrants further investigation in the rest of Brahms's oeuvre.

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Adam Ricci
UNC at Greensboro School of Music
P.O. Box 26170
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
adam_ricci@uncg.edu

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Dunsby, Jonathan. 1981. Structural Ambiguity in Brahms: Analytical Approaches to Four Works. Ann Arbor: UMI.

Dunsby, Jonathan. 1981. Structural Ambiguity in Brahms: Analytical Approaches to Four Works. Ann Arbor: UMI.

Frisch, Walter. 1990. “Brahms: From Classical to Modern.” In Nineteenth-Century Piano Music, ed. R. Larry Todd, 316–54. New York: Schirmer Books.

Frisch, Walter. 1990. “Brahms: From Classical to Modern.” In Nineteenth-Century Piano Music, ed. R. Larry Todd, 316–54. New York: Schirmer Books.

Harrison, Daniel. 2002. “Dissonant Tonics and Post-Tonal Tonality.” Paper presented at the Music Theory Society of New York State conference, New York, NY.

Harrison, Daniel. 2002. “Dissonant Tonics and Post-Tonal Tonality.” Paper presented at the Music Theory Society of New York State conference, New York, NY.

Hook, Julian L. 2002. Uniform Triadic Transformations. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University.

Hook, Julian L. 2002. Uniform Triadic Transformations. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University.

Jersild, Jøgen. 1982. “Harmoniske Sekvenser i Dur- og Mol-tidens Funktionelle Harmonik.” Dansk Årbog for Musikforskning 13: 73–108.

Jersild, Jøgen. 1982. “Harmoniske Sekvenser i Dur- og Mol-tidens Funktionelle Harmonik.” Dansk Årbog for Musikforskning 13: 73–108.

Jordan, Roland and Emma Kafalenos. 1989. “The Double Trajectory: Ambiguity in Brahms and Henry James.” 19th-Century Music 13.2: 129–44.

Jordan, Roland and Emma Kafalenos. 1989. “The Double Trajectory: Ambiguity in Brahms and Henry James.” 19th-Century Music 13.2: 129–44.

Lerdahl, Fred and Ray Jackendoff. 1983. A Generative Theory of Tonal Music. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Lerdahl, Fred and Ray Jackendoff. 1983. A Generative Theory of Tonal Music. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Lewin, David. 1990. “Brahms, His Past, and Modes of Music Theory.” In Brahms Studies: Analytical and Historical Perspectives (Papers delivered at the International Brahms Conference, Washington, DC, 5–8 May 1983), ed. George S. Bozarth, 13–27. Oxford: Clarendon.

Lewin, David. 1990. “Brahms, His Past, and Modes of Music Theory.” In Brahms Studies: Analytical and Historical Perspectives (Papers delivered at the International Brahms Conference, Washington, DC, 5–8 May 1983), ed. George S. Bozarth, 13–27. Oxford: Clarendon.

Mainka, J’rgen. 1986. “Permutation bei Brahms.” Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft 2: 145–47.

Mainka, J’rgen. 1986. “Permutation bei Brahms.” Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft 2: 145–47.

Newbould, Brian. 1977. “A New Analysis of Brahms’s Intermezzo in B Minor, op. 119, no. 1.” Music Review 38.1: 33–43.

Newbould, Brian. 1977. “A New Analysis of Brahms’s Intermezzo in B Minor, op. 119, no. 1.” Music Review 38.1: 33–43.

Ng, Samuel. 2005. “A Grundgestalt Interpretation of Metric Dissonance in the Music of Johannes Brahms.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester.

Ng, Samuel. 2005. “A Grundgestalt Interpretation of Metric Dissonance in the Music of Johannes Brahms.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester.

Petersen, Peter. 1999. “Rhythmische Komplexität in der Instrumentalmusik von Johannes Brahms.” In Johannes Brahms: Quellen-Text-Rezeption-Interpretation, ed. Friedhelm Krummacher and Michael Struck, 143–58. München: G. Henle.

Petersen, Peter. 1999. “Rhythmische Komplexität in der Instrumentalmusik von Johannes Brahms.” In Johannes Brahms: Quellen-Text-Rezeption-Interpretation, ed. Friedhelm Krummacher and Michael Struck, 143–58. München: G. Henle.

Platt, Heather. 2003. Johannes Brahms: A Guide to Research. New York: Routledge.

Platt, Heather. 2003. Johannes Brahms: A Guide to Research. New York: Routledge.

Quigley, Thomas. 1990. Johannes Brahms: An Annotated Bibliography of the Literature through 1982. Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Quigley, Thomas. 1990. Johannes Brahms: An Annotated Bibliography of the Literature through 1982. Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Quigley, Thomas. 1998. Johannes Brahms: An Annotated Bibliography of the Literature from 1982 to 1996. Latham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc.

—————. 1998. Johannes Brahms: An Annotated Bibliography of the Literature from 1982 to 1996. Latham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Ricci, Adam. 2002. “A Classification Scheme for Harmonic Sequences.” Theory and Practice 27: 1–36.

Ricci, Adam. 2002. “A Classification Scheme for Harmonic Sequences.” Theory and Practice 27: 1–36.

Ricci, Adam. 2004. “A Theory of the Harmonic Sequence.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester.

—————. 2004. “A Theory of the Harmonic Sequence.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester.

Rink, John. 1999. “Opposition and Integration in the Piano Music.” In The Cambridge Companion to Brahms, ed. Michael Musgrave, 79–97. Cambridge: Cambridge University.

Rink, John. 1999. “Opposition and Integration in the Piano Music.” In The Cambridge Companion to Brahms, ed. Michael Musgrave, 79–97. Cambridge: Cambridge University.

Rosen, Charles. 1990. “Brahms the Subversive.” In Brahms Studies: Analytical and Historical Perspectives (Papers delivered at the International Brahms Conference, Washington, DC, 5–8 May 1983), ed. George S. Bozarth, 105–19. Oxford: Clarendon.

Rosen, Charles. 1990. “Brahms the Subversive.” In Brahms Studies: Analytical and Historical Perspectives (Papers delivered at the International Brahms Conference, Washington, DC, 5–8 May 1983), ed. George S. Bozarth, 105–19. Oxford: Clarendon.

Samarotto, Frank. 2004. “Determinism, Prediction, and Inevitability in Brahms’s Rhapsody in E-flat Major, op. 119, no. 4.” Paper presented at the Society for Music Theory conference, Seattle, WA.

Samarotto, Frank. 2004. “Determinism, Prediction, and Inevitability in Brahms’s Rhapsody in E-flat Major, op. 119, no. 4.” Paper presented at the Society for Music Theory conference, Seattle, WA.

Schoenberg, Arnold. 1975. Style and Idea: Selected Writings of Arnold Schoenberg, ed. Leonard Stein with translations by Leo Black. New York: St. Martins.

Schoenberg, Arnold. 1975. Style and Idea: Selected Writings of Arnold Schoenberg, ed. Leonard Stein with translations by Leo Black. New York: St. Martins.

Schoenberg, Arnold. 1995. The Musical Idea and the Logic, Technique, and Art of Its Presentation, ed. and trans. Patricia Carpenter and Severine Neff. New York: Columbia University.

Schoenberg, Arnold. 1995. The Musical Idea and the Logic, Technique, and Art of Its Presentation, ed. and trans. Patricia Carpenter and Severine Neff. New York: Columbia University.

Smith, Peter H. 1994. “Liquidation, Augmentation, and Brahms’s Recapitulatory Overlaps.” 19th-Century Music 17.3: 237–61.

Smith, Peter H. 1994. “Liquidation, Augmentation, and Brahms’s Recapitulatory Overlaps.” 19th-Century Music 17.3: 237–61.

2006. “You Reap What You Sow: Some Instances of Rhythmic and Harmonic Ambiguity in Brahms.” Music Theory Spectrum 28.1: 57–97.

2006. “You Reap What You Sow: Some Instances of Rhythmic and Harmonic Ambiguity in Brahms.” Music Theory Spectrum 28.1: 57–97.

Straus, Joseph. 1991. “The Progress of a Motive in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.” The Journal of Musicology 9.2: 165–85.

Straus, Joseph. 1991. “The Progress of a Motive in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.” The Journal of Musicology 9.2: 165–85.

Ulehla, Ludmila. 1966. Contemporary Harmony: Romanticism Through the Twelve-Tone Row. New York: Free Press.

Ulehla, Ludmila. 1966. Contemporary Harmony: Romanticism Through the Twelve-Tone Row. New York: Free Press.

Webster, James. 1978–79. “Schubert’s Sonata Form and Brahms’s First Maturity.” 19th-Century Music 2.1: 18–35 and 3.1: 52–71.

Webster, James. 1978–79. “Schubert’s Sonata Form and Brahms’s First Maturity.” 19th-Century Music 2.1: 18–35 and 3.1: 52–71.

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Footnotes

* My title borrows a phrase from that of Straus 1991. Brent Auerbach, Guy Capuzzo, and the anonymous readers for this journal provided helpful comments on the manuscript. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2006 meeting of Music Theory Southeast in Chapel Hill, NC.
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My title borrows a phrase from that of Straus 1991. Brent Auerbach, Guy Capuzzo, and the anonymous readers for this journal provided helpful comments on the manuscript. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2006 meeting of Music Theory Southeast in Chapel Hill, NC.

1.Schoenberg 1975, 398–441.
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2. See also Cadwallader 1988.
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3. See, for example, Cadwallader 1983, Clements 1977, Dunsby 1981 (Chapter 5), Jordan and Kafalenos 1989, and Newbould 1977. Two excellent guides to Brahms research are Platt 2003 and Quigley (1990 and 1998).
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4. See, for example, Braus 1994, Frisch 1990,Mainka 1986, and Schenker (unpublished—discussed and translated in Cadwallader and Pastille 1999).
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5.Ng 2005; Samarotto 2004.
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6. Other analyses include Nattiez 1975 and Rosen 1990, both of which focus on the opening 12 measures. An extensive discussion of rhythm in Op. 119, No. 3 can be found in Petersen 1999.
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7. One exception is Jordan and Kafalenos 1989, which asserts the presence of a double-tonic complex involving B minor and D major in op. 119, no. 1. The term “double-tonic complex” originated with Bailey 1985. In an analysis of the Prelude from Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Bailey demonstrates that the keys of A (major/minor) and C (major/minor) are inextricably intertwined. That the two keys are intertwined does not preclude the superior position of one key at any given moment. On the structural role of aggregate completion in tonal music, see Baker 1993 and Burnett and O’Donnell 1996. Burnett and O’Donnell additionally argue for the significance of particular orderings of the chromatic aggregate. Clampitt 2004 points out the correspondence between completion of the aggregate and the end of the exposition in the Adagio mesto of Brahms’s Horn Trio in E major, op. 40.
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8. In that it contains multiple components, is an abstraction from the musical surface, and is pervasively present in the piece, it is close in function to Schoenberg’s Grundgestalt; Schoenberg used the term “motive” to designate smaller musical units. Because the precise meaning of Grundgestalt is difficult to discern, I will exclusively use “motive” to refer to the combination of J and DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH. On the conceptual distinctions between motive, Grundgestalt, and related terms in Schoenberg’s writing, see Schoenberg 1995.
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9. A fourth statement of J begins on the last eighth of m. 3, beat 1, but is interrupted when the melody ascends to B instead of descending to G.
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10. Petersen (1999, 151) shows the lengths of the three Js in his Example 9 and mentions in his accompanying text how it does not fit into the notated 6/8 meter.
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11. This notation is employed in Lerdahl and Jackendoff 1983.
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12. Petersen’s (1999) calculus of accents, which takes into account melodic, textural and harmonic factors and is summarized in his Example 12 (p. 153), clearly places the next strong accent following the downbeat of m. 1 on the downbeat of m. 3. (It is questionable, however, whether his methodology of summing all types of accents is valid, because—as he acknowledges (pp. 154–55)—not all of them are performed accents.) Along similar lines, Cai (1986, 304) states “the first two measures, retrospectively, [give] the impression of being upbeats to m. 3 where G, the important motive note, corresponds with the downbeat.” There is another kind of rhythmic symmetry that spans all of mm. 1–3: the durations are retrograde-symmetric about the middle of m. 2 (Cai 1986, 288).
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13. Hook (2002, 142) concurs, saying that the A-minor triad “acquires some significance by the fact that it is the sonority heard immediately preceding the E-minor triad.” In contrast, Nattiez (1975, 323) does not differentiate the verticality on the last eighth of m. 2 from the third eighth of m. 1 and second eighth of m. 2; in his lower-level harmonic analysis, they are all analyzed as VI.
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14. “Every tone which is added to a beginning tone makes the meaning of that tone doubtful...In this manner there is produced a state of unrest or imbalance—The method by which balance is restored seems to me the real idea of the composition” (Schoenberg 1975, 123); “This unrest is expressed almost always already in the motive, but certainly in the gestalt” (Schoenberg 1995, 107). See also Carpenter (1988, 37– 38), which discusses both quotations.
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15. To be sure, the double-tonic complex in this piece is considerably weaker than in the pieces to which Bailey originally applied the term. Nonetheless, it serves as a useful heuristic for understanding the opening measures of the Intermezzo in particular.
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16. This C completes the second pattern of a sequence, however, as I show in Example 5.
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17. Rosen (1990, 115, Ex. 16b) includes a 2-voice, 3-measure prototype that is consonant with mine. His example transposes the left-hand part of m. 4, b. 1 up a 5th instead of a 3rd (representing this voice by a single pitch, E), and stops short of the G-major triad in the fourth measure of my Example 4.
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18. Rosen (1990, 115, Ex. 16a) focuses on the (unaltered) bass line beginning with the second beat of m. 3, interpreting an implied ascending sequence here (E–A, F–B).
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19. Cai (1986, 288) recognizes a “rhythmic reversal” in m. 7 but does not mention that it constitutes a return to the opening.
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20.F tonicizes G in the traditional sense, acting as a(n upward) leading tone; E is, in the dualist sense, a descending leading tone.
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21. Or, as given in parentheses in Example 5, mm. 6–9 may be heard (retrospectively) as a 4-beat hypermeasure. Another, more abstract interpretation might understand mm. 6–7 as an expanded “3” and mm. 8–9 as an expanded “4.”
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22. hat m. 9 constitutes a hypermetric strong beat suggests that the parallel m. 7 might also be interpreted as a strong beat. In this reading, either there is a hypermetric reinterpretation in m. 7, or mm. 4–6 are understood to be a triple hypermeasure (like mm. 1–3). While this reading has some merit, I find it difficult to hear in light of the ascending sequence in mm. 6–9 and for reasons I shall enumerate later.
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23. That F leads back to C major may seem counterintuitive, but it is worth remembering that the first time F was inflected to F, it served in a tonicization of V of C. Vestiges of this tonicization can perhaps be heard in the implied voice-leading wedge D (m. 11)–C–C (m. 12)–B (m. 15) and E (m. 11)–F–F (m. 12)–G (mm. 13ff.). Cai (p. 296) argues that there is a “much elided cadence” here, with both V-of-V and V chords omitted.
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24. The sostenuto in m. 10 is omitted in m. 22, and a new crescendo appears in m. 23. These two changes propel the music into the B section. Also, the accents in mm. 11–12 are replaced with sfs in mm. 23–24.
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25. The right-hand part in m. 30 is literally a major 6th below that in m. 26; the left-hand part in the first half of the measure is transposed up by major 3rd.
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26. This sequence differs from the one usually indicated by the moniker “ascending 3rd”; the more common ascending-3rd sequence pairs root motions by descending second and descending fifth and alternates diatonic triads and (applied) dominant-7th chords. Jersild (1982) comes close to a label for the sequence based on DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH, calling the sequence that reverses these two root motions “Rising 5th in ascending-3rd progression” (“Opadgående kvintfølger i stigende tertstrappe”). The first part of his label corresponds to “UP-FIFTH” and the second part corresponds to the interval of transposition, the sum of “DOWN-THIRD” and “UP-FIFTH.” A chromatic version of this sequence appears at rehearsal 2 of Bruckner’s motet “Ecce sacerdos.” For more on sequence classification schemes, see Ricci (2002 and 2004).
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27. Rosen (1990, 114) also notes the altered bass pitches in these measures relative to the opening, and points out that each dotted-quarter-note pitch is the root of the harmony beginning the next measure.
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28. This example is inspired by David Lewin’s study of cantus-firmus technique in Brahms’s music (Lewin 1990).
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29. This tetrachord (G-A-B-C) is presented explicitly in mm. 3–4.
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30. The pianist must therefore be careful not to overemphasize the return of J at its original pitch level. To reflect the overlap between these two statements of J, I think it is more appropriate to play the E softly, in which case the listener does not recognize the restatement of J on E until after it has already begun.
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31.Smith 2006 discusses large-scale examples of this type of harmonic ambiguity in Brahms’s G-major String Quintet op. 111 and the B-minor Rhapsody op. 79, no. 1.
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32. This melody also appears at the conclusion of the B section, in mm. 67–71. The absolute durations of the pitches in mm. 41–43 of op. 119, no. 3 are approximately equivalent to those in the B section and codetta of op. 119, no. 2.
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33. Interestingly, the last sounded pitch in op. 119, no. 2 is E4, the first pitch of the melody in op. 119, no. 3.
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34. Rosen calls the return of the opening material “elliptical,” observing that although the rhythm of J returns in m. 45, its pitch pattern in augmentation returns in m. 41. On the sophistication of Brahms’s recapitulatory procedures in sonata forms, see Webster 1978 and Smith 1994.
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35. Brinkmann (1984, 111) observes a parallel between the Bs and Cs in A2 and A1-B, but does not mention the retrograde relationship and does not continue beyond these two pitch classes.
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36. Thus m. 49 continues a process begun in m. 7: the inner-voice figure first introduced in m. 7 is initially heard as falling on a weak beat, then in m. 9 as falling on a weak beat that is retrospectively interpreted (through its repetitions in mm. 10–11) as strong, and finally in m. 49 as unambiguously strong.
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37. The A-A line is doubled in the right-hand part.
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38. All but the upper voice are transposed up by major 2nd in this sequence, but the upper voice’s diatonicism (except for the D) seems primary (as in m. 50). Strict transposition up by major 2nd would produce F and D in the second half of m. 53 and F and G in m. 54. Regardless of whether this sequence is heard as a departure from an up-by-major-2nd sequence or an up-by-diatonic-2nd sequence, the D is an anomaly. Also, relative to m. 8, the only alteration is the D.
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39. The progression here echoes that of mm. 12–13, the site of the counterintuitive F discussed in note 23. Here both the voice leading and the harmonic progression are normalized: the F, in the same octave as before, moves directly to G; the bass remains stationary, resulting in a more normative resolution of the vii°-of-V (over a pedal) to a cadential .
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40. Alternatively, one may hear three complete statements of J in these measures, with overlaps on the downbeats of mm. 67 and 68: the pianist can suggest this interpretation by slightly emphasizing the left-hand Gs through the downbeat of m. 69.
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41. Other examples of this major-mode tonic chord-type occur in the second movement of Schubert’s first A-major piano sonata (D. 664), the Prelude from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (see Bailey 1985), and the final movement (Der Abschied) from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde—the latter two of which intertwine the same keys as the Brahms Intermezzo. On the use of this tonic chord in twentieth-century music, see Harrison 2002.
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42. Beethoven exhausts 19 of the triads in this 24-triad cycle (proceeding counterclockwise, i.e., an RL-cycle) in mm. 143–76 of the Scherzo from his 9th Symphony. For a study of the properties of this and other neo-Riemannian cycles, see Cohn 1997; a discussion of the Beethoven passage appears on p. 36.
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43. I omit from this example the A-E bass motions in mm. 4-5 and 8-9, which might be interpreted as participating in less well articulated statements of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH; the statement in mm. 8-9 ends with a major-minor 7th chord, perhaps prefiguring the two short cutting statements in the B section that end with major triads.
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Schoenberg 1975, 398–441.

See also Cadwallader 1988.

See, for example, Cadwallader 1983, Clements 1977, Dunsby 1981 (Chapter 5), Jordan and Kafalenos 1989, and Newbould 1977. Two excellent guides to Brahms research are Platt 2003 and Quigley (1990 and 1998).

See, for example, Braus 1994, Frisch 1990,Mainka 1986, and Schenker (unpublished—discussed and translated in Cadwallader and Pastille 1999).

Ng 2005; Samarotto 2004.

Other analyses include Nattiez 1975 and Rosen 1990, both of which focus on the opening 12 measures. An extensive discussion of rhythm in Op. 119, No. 3 can be found in Petersen 1999.

One exception is Jordan and Kafalenos 1989, which asserts the presence of a double-tonic complex involving B minor and D major in op. 119, no. 1. The term “double-tonic complex” originated with Bailey 1985. In an analysis of the Prelude from Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Bailey demonstrates that the keys of A (major/minor) and C (major/minor) are inextricably intertwined. That the two keys are intertwined does not preclude the superior position of one key at any given moment. On the structural role of aggregate completion in tonal music, see Baker 1993 and Burnett and O’Donnell 1996. Burnett and O’Donnell additionally argue for the significance of particular orderings of the chromatic aggregate. Clampitt 2004 points out the correspondence between completion of the aggregate and the end of the exposition in the Adagio mesto of Brahms’s Horn Trio in E major, op. 40.

In that it contains multiple components, is an abstraction from the musical surface, and is pervasively present in the piece, it is close in function to Schoenberg’s Grundgestalt; Schoenberg used the term “motive” to designate smaller musical units. Because the precise meaning of Grundgestalt is difficult to discern, I will exclusively use “motive” to refer to the combination of J and DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH. On the conceptual distinctions between motive, Grundgestalt, and related terms in Schoenberg’s writing, see Schoenberg 1995.

A fourth statement of J begins on the last eighth of m. 3, beat 1, but is interrupted when the melody ascends to B instead of descending to G.

Petersen (1999, 151) shows the lengths of the three Js in his Example 9 and mentions in his accompanying text how it does not fit into the notated 6/8 meter.

This notation is employed in Lerdahl and Jackendoff 1983.

Petersen’s (1999) calculus of accents, which takes into account melodic, textural and harmonic factors and is summarized in his Example 12 (p. 153), clearly places the next strong accent following the downbeat of m. 1 on the downbeat of m. 3. (It is questionable, however, whether his methodology of summing all types of accents is valid, because—as he acknowledges (pp. 154–55)—not all of them are performed accents.) Along similar lines, Cai (1986, 304) states “the first two measures, retrospectively, [give] the impression of being upbeats to m. 3 where G, the important motive note, corresponds with the downbeat.” There is another kind of rhythmic symmetry that spans all of mm. 1–3: the durations are retrograde-symmetric about the middle of m. 2 (Cai 1986, 288).

Hook (2002, 142) concurs, saying that the A-minor triad “acquires some significance by the fact that it is the sonority heard immediately preceding the E-minor triad.” In contrast, Nattiez (1975, 323) does not differentiate the verticality on the last eighth of m. 2 from the third eighth of m. 1 and second eighth of m. 2; in his lower-level harmonic analysis, they are all analyzed as VI.

“Every tone which is added to a beginning tone makes the meaning of that tone doubtful...In this manner there is produced a state of unrest or imbalance—The method by which balance is restored seems to me the real idea of the composition” (Schoenberg 1975, 123); “This unrest is expressed almost always already in the motive, but certainly in the gestalt” (Schoenberg 1995, 107). See also Carpenter (1988, 37– 38), which discusses both quotations.

To be sure, the double-tonic complex in this piece is considerably weaker than in the pieces to which Bailey originally applied the term. Nonetheless, it serves as a useful heuristic for understanding the opening measures of the Intermezzo in particular.

This C completes the second pattern of a sequence, however, as I show in Example 5.

Rosen (1990, 115, Ex. 16b) includes a 2-voice, 3-measure prototype that is consonant with mine. His example transposes the left-hand part of m. 4, b. 1 up a 5th instead of a 3rd (representing this voice by a single pitch, E), and stops short of the G-major triad in the fourth measure of my Example 4.

Rosen (1990, 115, Ex. 16a) focuses on the (unaltered) bass line beginning with the second beat of m. 3, interpreting an implied ascending sequence here (E–A, F–B).

Cai (1986, 288) recognizes a “rhythmic reversal” in m. 7 but does not mention that it constitutes a return to the opening.

F tonicizes G in the traditional sense, acting as a(n upward) leading tone; E is, in the dualist sense, a descending leading tone.

Or, as given in parentheses in Example 5

TWO RHAPSODIES FOR PIANO, OP. 79
Recording: Martin Jones, pianist [NI 1788]
Published 1880.  Dedicated to Mrs. Elisabeth von Herzogenberg.

On the heels of the eight short pieces, Op. 76, Brahms published these two considerably longer ones.  Composed at the peak of the “high maturity,” they are among the most popular of his solo piano works.    The seething passion and intensity of both, as well as their more extensive layout, sets them apart.  They are also distinguished by the recipient of their dedication, one of the composer’s dearest friends and most trusted artistic confidants.  Brahms placed great stock in Elisabeth von Herzogenberg’s opinions of his works, and regularly submitted songs and other pieces for her review.  His relationship with her and her husband, the composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg, was one of the warmest of his most productive years, and their voluminous correspondence is a treasure trove.  Brahms carefully contemplated his dedication to the vivacious, intelligent Elisabeth.  He originally considered the Ballades and Romances for two voices, Op. 75, but then reconsidered given the macabre subject matter of the first and last of these as “unfit for a lady.”  That he chose these Rhapsodies speaks to his opinion of their value.  Brahms and Elisabeth arrived at the title “Rhapsodies” in their discussions about the pieces.  The generic “Klavierstücke” was inadequate for them.  Neither was entirely happy with the word and its implications of free or improvisatory form, since both of them have clearly delineated structures, but Brahms grudgingly accepted it as the best option (and would return to it for his final piano piece, Op. 119, No. 4).  Originally, No. 1 was titled “Capriccio” (although it dwarfs the pieces from Op. 76 with that title) and No. 2 simply “Molto passionato.”  No. 1 has an extremely unusual compound form.  It is a three-part piece with a literal reprise of the first section, which is rare for Brahms.  But the outer sections themselves have their own ternary form that approaches, but does not quite reach, sonata form.  The second theme and the “development” make up the middle portion, and the reprise is only of the first theme.  The central section is a lullaby-like transformation of the second theme from the main section (and that theme also returns for the coda).  The more concise No. 2 is in a real sonata form, but its exposition is very brief and its development section quite long.  The enormous re-transition, which struggles to restrain its potential energy, is the most exciting passage.  Both pieces are unusually reluctant to define their home keys in the opening bars, making their eventual arrival that much more satisfying.  The opening of No. 2 has even been described as having a “roving tonal center.”

IMSLP WORK PAGE
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (from Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)


No. 1: Agitato (Large compound ternary form).  B MINOR, Cut time [2/2].
A SECTION--Ternary form
0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1 (a).  Theme 1.  The distinctive head of the forceful theme is a held octave followed by a leap down to a fast ascending triplet flourish.  This is initially presented by the right hand, and the left hand follows with weighty three-note descending arpeggios beginning off the beat.  After the opening figure, the theme continues with a generally downward zigzag motion in steady long-short rhythm.  In the third and fourth measures, the upbeats have strong descents punctuated by throbbing lower notes.  While the second and third measures end with B-minor chords, there is no strong establishment of the home key.
0:08 [m. 5]--The key already moves away from B minor here.  The head of the theme is played by the left hand, transposed up a third to D minor.  The right hand plays two long chords establishing the new key, then continues with its own three-note figures, which do begin off the beat, but are harmonized and varied in direction.  The theme in the left hand quickly deviates from its first presentation, lingering on D minor and its “dominant” harmony on A.  The long-short rhythm dominates, including leaps up to chords.
0:14 [m. 9]--Brahms indicates a buildup from an already strong presentation.  The same harmonic shift occurs, with a motion up a third, now to F minor.  The statement of the theme’s head in the left hand begins as it had in D minor, with the long right hand chords above it.  In the second measure, though, the continuation is replaced by another statement of the opening gesture, in a lower octave but a half-step higher in harmony.  This is F-sharp minor, the temporary goal.  The right hand erupts into huge chords in that key, supported by large leaps up to chords from octaves in the left hand using the long-short rhythm.
0:21 [m. 13]--F-sharp minor is strongly asserted with a marching line in octaves that turns down before steadily rising.  The left hand presents it in a long-short-short rhythm.  The right hand shadows it above, but plays the first octave of each corresponding left hand group off the beat, essentially splitting the longer left hand notes.  After two measures, there is an emphatic motion down to a cadence, still in octaves, with the right hand following the left off the beats.
0:26 [m. 16]--The cadence merges with a sudden drop in volume, and a throbbing pulse begins in the lower register.  The note F-sharp becomes a “pedal point,” reiterated on the downbeats in the bass and off the beats in the tenor register with the right hand.  After the downbeats, the left hand alternates harmonies with the right hand off-beat pulses, at first intertwining with the right hand.  In the third measure, the left hand actually crosses over the right hand for a plaintive chromatic descent in thirds, then a more hopeful rising line that falters back downward.  In the midst of these, it leaps back to reiterate the “leading tone” below the right hand pulse.  From the fourth measure, the left hand abandons the low downbeats on F-sharp.
0:35 [m. 22]--The hopeful line in the crossover melody briefly suggests a turn to major, which is confirmed on this closing downbeat.  However, the key then immediately and unexpectedly pivots to D major (the “relative” key to the home key of B minor).  The throbbing off-beat pulse on F-sharp continues, but it is now the third in the new key.  The left hand moves back down to establish a low bass octave on D.  The right hand plays a harmonized melody above the pulsations that is derived from the thematic opening with its distinctive triplet, but now in a transformed, hushed version.  There are colorful borrowings from the minor key, and then a chromatic ascent in the bass octaves as the right hand lingers on long harmonies.
0:43 [m. 26]--The distinctive triplet from the theme is heard again, and at that point, the off-beat pulsations on F-sharp cease, being replaced by a similar pulsation on a low bass D.  The triplet is then heard one more time, and its continuation again has a colorful borrowing from the minor.  The music then settles onto a low bass octave and slow pulsing D-major chords above it, gently closing the first part.
0:52 [m. 1]--Part 1 (a) repeated.  Theme 1, first presentation in B minor, as at the beginning.
0:58 [m. 5]--Left hand presentation in D minor, as at 0:08.
1:04 [m. 9]--Presentation in F minor followed by strong arrival in F-sharp minor, as at 0:14.
1:11 [m. 13]--Marching line in F-sharp minor with the right hand shadowing the left, as at 0:21.
1:16 [m. 16]--Drop in volume, then throbbing pulse on F-sharp with left hand harmonies and crossover, as at 0:26.
1:25 [m. 22]--Change to D major and hushed version of theme’s opening, as at 0:35.
1:33 [m. 26]--Repetitions of triplet figure and quiet close of first part, as at 0:43.
1:43 [m. 30]--Part 2 (b).  Theme 2 (D minor).  The new melody is passionately yearning and plaintive.  It consists of three upward reaches, the third followed by a longing expansion.  It is accompanied by flowing, downward-arching arpeggios, one for each reach with a longer one under the expanded continuation.  This first phrase is followed by a second, which is moved up a fourth., inflected to G minor, then D major.  It is extended by a measure, working downward and slowing to a close.
2:01 [m. 39]--Development.  The closure of Theme 2 is rudely interrupted by the sudden return of Theme 1, introduced by three sharp chords over rising bass octaves that interrupt the brief reverie.  The distinctive head of the theme is presented in a transformed version, with leaping, pounding bass octaves.  It is transformed to major (specifically B-flat, which also arrives suddenly), and oriented differently.  The major version does have a consistent minor-key inflection (the lowered sixth, G-flat).  The continuation with the long-short rhythm moves steadily downward and includes the familiar left hand descending arpeggios
2:07 [m. 43]--Suddenly hushed again, even mezza voce, the music changes key again, this time to the remote G-flat major (using that note, borrowed from the minor in the previous B-flat passage, as a pivot).  The three chords that introduced the return of Theme 1 are developed into a huge buildup, remaining in G-flat.  After their first presentation, they surge chromatically upward, alternating between the high and middle registers.  Bass chords on the beat are followed by syncopated right hand chords off the beat.  G-flat and B-flat persist as “pedal point” notes.  The alternations become shorter approaching the climax.
2:16 [m. 49]--The ubiquitous head of Theme 1 appears again at the climax.  The key changes back to B-flat (now minor), and the figure is passed forcefully between the right and left hands, both descending an octave on the second exchange.  The entire pattern is then repeated a third higher, in D-flat major (the “relative” key to B-flat minor).
2:23 [m. 53]--In a harmonically unstable passage approaching an even greater climax, the Theme 1 material alternates with heavily syncopated treble chords, all over a strong bass of marching, leaping octaves.  At first the key seems to shift up another third, but F sounds like the preparatory “dominant” for B-flat, a key heavily used in this “development” section.  But then things shift up a half-step and the bass octaves add harmonies in thirds.  F-sharp (the same as G-flat, another heavily featured key) is heard as the “dominant” of B, the supposed home key of the piece.  But Brahms does not return home just yet.  Instead, the harmonies unexpectedly move again back toward F, which is now heard as an actual key center.
2:34 [m. 60]--At the massive climax, the thematic figure is again passed twice between the hands, with a leap downward an octave in both.  F is clearly heard as a key center here, which is confirmed with a huge arrival on a low F octave.  Then, in a gesture highly uncharacteristic of Brahms and reminiscent of Chopin or Liszt, both hands sweep up three octaves in a virtuosic, virtually unmeasured scale.  Then a low chord of G-flat (a half-step higher) leads into a repetition of the virtuosic scale, beginning an octave plus a half-step higher.  At the top, G-flat is interpreted as F-sharp, and the right hand holds that note.  It finally becomes the true preparatory “dominant” for the arrival of B minor and the reprise of the original theme.
2:46 [m. 67]--Part 3 (a’).  After emerging out of the held F-sharp, which is not reiterated, the first four measures of the reprise are presented as they were at the beginning and at 0:52, except for the very last chord, which is moved down a step to help avoid the modulation to D heard in the first part.
2:52 [m. 71]--Analogous to 0:08 and 0:58 [m. 5], but the left hand presentation of the theme and the continuation are now in the home key of B minor, with heavy focus on the “dominant” harmony of F-sharp.
2:58 [m. 75]--This is nearly analogous to 0:14 and 1:04 [m. 9], and elegantly, it starts in D minor, on the same level of the previous passage at 0:08 and 0:58 [m. 5] in the first part.  But Brahms makes another change for the sake of remaining in B minor, which is again subtly carried out.  The descending left hand motion in the long-short rhythm is narrowed to steps instead of arpeggios, and the harmonies above finally emphatically establish the B-minor key, as emphasized in the huge chords that had confirmed F-sharp before.  The first two measures of the marching line from 0:21 and 1:11 [m. 13] are heard in B minor.
3:08 [m. 81]--After Brahms has worked hard to modify things so that he can remain in B minor, he undermines this by moving away in an extension of the marching line.  This extension does increase the tension.  He adds rolled chords and other harmonies to the left hand, and the right hand responses no longer shadow the left hand figures, but become independent.  Brahms veers first toward G minor, then through the circle of fifths to C minor and F minor as both hands reach higher, especially the upward-reaching right hand octaves.  He then suddenly refers to the original cadence motion, bumping things up a half-step to the original goal of the passage in the first section, F-sharp minor.
3:12 [m. 84]--The extension continues.  Brahms uses the same gesture to bump the key up another half-step to G minor, where the diversion began.  On this level, the high-reaching right hand figures are stated three times, but preceded by subtle alterations in the harmony.  Brahms circles back to B minor by adding the note C-sharp (foreign to G minor) and re-interpreting the note B-flat as A-sharp (the “leading tone” in B minor).  The tension explodes into a new cascading series of chords, reminiscent of the F-sharp-minor cadence in Part 1 with the right hand following the left, but expanded, powerful, and firmly in B minor.
3:21 [m. 89]--Conclusion and transition.  The left hand makes a huge arrival on a low octave B.  The F-sharp-minor and D-major material that closed Part 1 is omitted.  It is replaced by a gentle transition to the large B section.  In the low register, the right hand responds to the low bass B with a slow rising line.  This has a sense of longing and ends by juxtaposing the “dominant” above the low B, creating a dissonance.  The first rising line is followed by another with the right hand following the left an octave above in a more active placement.  Finally, up another octave (in the right hand), a third gesture is slowed down like the first one, but with the right hand following the left as in the second.  All is suspended on a held dissonant chord.
B SECTION--B major, Binary form
3:36 [m. 94]--Part 1.  The central section is based on the almost forgotten Theme 2 from 1:43 [m. 30].  It is marked molto dolce espressivo and has the character of a lullaby, although the tempo does not really slow down.  It is in the major version of the home key.  The melody itself is placed in a middle voice below a high tolling F-sharp (the “dominant” note).  The left hand has continuous flowing motion.  This has some leaps up from and down to a low B, but it mainly undulates in the tenor range.  The first phrase (an irregular five measures) ends with a half-close and a brief break from the tolling F-sharp.
3:47 [m. 99]--The second phrase is also five measures.  The first two are slightly varied from those of the first phrase, but then in the third measure, the opening gesture is actually moved up a fifth and transposed to the “dominant” key of F-sharp major.  The high tolling note becomes its own “dominant,” C-sharp.  The flowing left hand reaches higher here, but then quickly plunges downward at the end.
3:57 [m. 104a (94)]--Part 1 repeated.  The first ending (m. 104a) is equivalent to the first measure, m. 94, but in order to move back to B major, the left hand is changed to a generally falling zigzag undulation.  The right hand melody is also changed.  Its rise begins a beat later, and its last note is omitted, creating a slightly different approach to the second measure (m. 95), where the repeat sign leads.  The first phrase follows as before from after 3:36.
4:08 [m. 99]--The second phrase follows as before at 3:47, with the motion to F-sharp major.
4:19 [m. 104b]--Part 2.  The first phrase of four measures begins with the second ending.  It turns from B major to B minor, still with the tolling F-sharp above.  Two statements of the thematic opening figures, the second beginning a step higher, then reaching up another step in the second measure, lead to another key change, to D major (“relative” to B minor).  The volume swells slightly.
4:28 [m. 108]--The entire five-measure opening phrase from Part 1 is stated in D major, a third higher than before, with the tolling upper note now on its “dominant” of A.  That tolling upper note is now given in a new syncopated rhythmic orientation, with twice as many reiterations.  The orientation of the flowing left hand is quite different as well, with new placements of wide leaps and other displacements.  At the end, it plunges precipitously from the lower treble down to the bass.
4:39 [m. 113]--A third phrase is again four measures.  It quickly returns to B major, where the opening gesture from the second phrase of Part 1 is given.  Instead of moving to F-sharp after that, the main gesture moves to a higher level confirming B major, with the tolling note moving up to the keynote, B.  The volume swells slightly again, then recedes for the following coda-like phrase.
4:48 [m. 117]--A final five-measure unit is essentially a small coda.  It develops a dolce sighing figure that vacillates between major and minor, placing the notes D-natural and D-sharp in close juxtaposition.  The left hand stalls and repeats the same wide downward zigzag figure over and over.  The first sighing figure is followed by another decorated by a slow quarter-note triplet rhythm.  Finally, the triplet rhythm is slowed down even more, to half notes, with three notes in the measure.  This is followed by a motion to an incomplete cadence that is firmly in major.  The last measure is the first of the two-measure first ending (m. 121a).  It closes things off with the left hand figure expanding further downward with descending octaves.
4:58 [m. 122a (104b)]--Part 2 repeated.  The second measure of the first ending corresponds to the first measure of the phrase (m. 104b).  The only change in this measure is an accommodation of the left hand to allow it to leap back up from the very low bass to the tenor range.  The repeat sign goes back to m. 105, where the first four-measure phrase in B minor continues as after 4:19.
5:07 [m. 108]--Five-measure phrase in D major, as at 4:28.
5:18 [m. 113]--Four measure phrase returning to B major, as at 4:39.
5:27 [m. 117]--Five measure coda-like phrase, as at 4:48.  The last measure, now the first of the second ending (m. 121b) adds a lower right hand voice with chromatic motion that leads into the extension.
5:38 [m. 122b]--To close off the entire central B section, Brahms draws out the coda with yet another five-measure phrase.  The left hand again stalls on the wide downward-ranging figure with broken octaves.  This is not identical in each measure, being varied in the middle.  The motion to the incomplete cadence is repeated with the new lower, highly chromatic voice.  Then it slides down over D-natural, and the motion is repeated again as the tempo slows and the volume diminishes.  After the incomplete cadence, the right hand moves up to another held harmony with the “dominant” note at the top.  This closes the phrase.
5:51 [m. 127]--The left hand drops out.  The last right hand chord is reiterated, but now with the minor-key inflection to D-natural, and held for two measures.  This prepares for the full literal reprise of the A section.
REPRISE OF A SECTION—Ternary form
5:55 [m. 129]--Part 1 (a).  Theme 1, first presentation in B minor, as at the beginning and at 0:52 [m. 1].
6:01 [m. 133]--Left hand presentation in D minor, as at 0:08 and 0:58 [m. 5].
6:07 [m. 137]--Presentation in F minor followed by strong arrival in F-sharp minor, as at 0:14 and 1:04 [m. 9].
6:14 [m. 141]--Marching line in F-sharp minor with the right hand shadowing the left, as at 0:21 and 1:11 [m. 13].
6:18 [m. 144]--Drop in volume, then throbbing pulse on F-sharp with left hand harmonies and crossover, as at 0:26 and 1:16 [m. 16].
6:27 [m. 150]--Change to D major and hushed version of theme’s opening, as at 0:35 and 1:25 [m. 22].
6:36 [m. 154]--Repetitions of triplet figure and quiet close of first part, as at 0:43 and 1:33 [m. 26].
6:44 [m. 158]--Part 2 (b).  Theme 2 in D minor, full presentation in two phrases as at 1:43 [m. 30].
7:01 [m. 167]--Development.  Three sharp chords, then transformation of Theme 1 in B-flat with minor-key inflection, as at 2:01 [m. 39].
7:08 [m. 171]--Passage in G-flat major with buildup based on three chords, as at 2:07 [m. 43].
7:17 [m. 177]--Climax with descending patterns of thematic head in B-flat minor and D-flat major, as at 2:16 [m. 49].
7:24 [m. 181]--Harmonically unstable passage with heavily syncopated treble chords, moving to massive climax, as at 2:23 [m. 53].
7:36 [m. 188]--Climax, then sweeping unmeasured scales on F and G-flat (F-sharp), as at 2:34 [m. 60].
7:48 [m. 195]--Part 3 (a’).  First four measures of reprise, as at 2:46 [m. 67], analogous to 5:55 [m. 129].
7:54 [m. 199]--Left hand presentation in B minor, as at 2:52 [m. 71], here analogous to 6:01 [m. 133].
8:00 [m. 203]--Passage beginning in D minor, but moving back to B minor, as at 2:58 [m. 75], here nearly analogous to 6:07 [m. 137] and the first two measures of the marching line at 6:14 [m. 141].
8:10 [m. 209]--Extension beginning in G minor, then hint at cadence gesture in F-sharp minor, as at 3:08 [m. 81].
8:14 [m. 212]--Continuation and intensification of extension, circling back to B minor, as at 3:12 [m. 84].
8:23 [m. 217]--Conclusion and transition, now to the coda of the entire piece.  It is similar to 3:21 [m. 89].  The first rising line is a bit longer, like the second one in the earlier passage, and the right hand does not follow the left, which now reiterates a single low B without the lower octave doubling.  There is then only one other rising line, but it is extended and uses a flowing triplet motion.  It still uses the same notes, juxtaposing the “dominant” above the low B.  Because it does not pause, the dissonance is not as pronounced.  It winds its way up to the treble in preparation for the coda.
CODA
8:31 [m. 221]--The coda is based entirely on Theme 2, specifically its original version first heard in D minor, not the lullaby version from the B section.  Here it is presented in B minor, and in the left hand above a tolling pedal point low B.  It is very subdued and marked pianissimo.  The right hand, continuing from the transition, plays wide-ranging leggiero figuration in triplet rhythm.  In the first phrase, it winds up, then back down over the first two measures.  When the left hand melody becomes active in the last two measures, the right hand stresses notes on the beats as melodic, creating a subtle counterpoint.
8:41 [m. 225]--The second phrase in the left hand is a fourth higher, as expected, with a mild hint at E minor.  As in the theme’s initial presentation, it works downward and is extended by a measure at the end.  The right hand triplet figuration is more complex here.  It generally winds up and back down over the course of the phrase, but the subtly stressed notes on the beat continue the counterpoint that was established at the end of the first phrase.
8:53 [m. 230]--In the final phrase, the triplet figuration moves to the left hand, where it remains anchored to a wide arpeggio.  Over a low B, the arpeggio is in B major, not minor.  The right hand plays the rising fourth that begins Theme 2.  Then the left hand adds a response below its triplets (which can be briefly taken by the right hand), adding the dissonant note C-natural, a half-step above the keynote.  The measure is repeated as the tempo slows and the volume diminishes, fading even more.  A third repetition omits the dissonant response, and the left hand arpeggio remains on B major.  Finally, in the last measure, the rising right hand fourth is held and the left hand arpeggio reaches down to a very low sustained octave B.
9:23--END OF PIECE [233 mm.]


No. 2: Molto passionato, ma non troppo allegro (Sonata-Allegro form).  G MINOR, 4/4 (12/8) time.
EXPOSITION
0:00 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  Beginning on an upbeat, the texture of the theme is established.  The melody itself is a firm, steady march, but it is decorated by a constantly undulating accompaniment.  This is always in the right hand, even when the melody rises above it (as it does on the second and third beats of the first two measures), so the left hand crosses over the right to play these notes, alternating with low bass octaves on the first and fourth beats.  The entire piece is really in 12/8 (compound) meter, as a triplet rhythm established in the accompaniment remains in force throughout.  Brahms avoids a firm establishment of G minor.  The key center is constantly roving.  “Leading tone motion” on the upbeats suggests first E-flat major (despite a strong motion to G in the bass), then F major.  When G is finally established in the next two measures, which slow toward the end, it is G major, not G minor.
0:11 [m. 5]--The pattern of the first phrase is repeated a third higher, beginning with the leading tone motion in G major.  In the second measure, A major is suggested, and the last two measures move to B major.  Again, the left hand crosses over the right in the first two measures, and there is a slowing, now to a fermata, at the end of the phrase.
0:22 [m. 9]--Transition.  The transition is centered on G.  It is martial in character, with fully harmonized fanfare figures in the right hand and leaping octaves in the bass.  Both are still in the prevalent triplet or 12/8 motion.  After the first forceful motion, the left hand octaves break on the third part of each beat.  The first two measures are in G major.  The next two, which follow a similar pattern, are (finally) in G minor, but even this is transient, leading directly into a one-measure extension that slows and descends to a fermata on the “dominant” chord in D minor, the key where both parts of Theme 2 will be set.
0:36 [m. 14]--Theme 2, Part 1.  In contrast to Theme 1, this portion has a strongly settled key center (D minor).  The melody itself again begins on an upbeat, still in the unceasing triplet rhythm.  The upbeat gestures are doubled in octaves.  In the first three measures after the upbeat, the first note is held.  The passionate melody is agitated, but more subdued than Theme 1 or the transition.  The left hand has wide ranging, flowing arpeggios, and the right hand has a prominent lower voice below the melody.  After the first four measures, the closing gesture is repeated, then fragmented.  There is a large, rapid buildup to a climactic high chord and descending arpeggio on the preparatory “dominant” harmony.
0:52 [m. 21]--Theme 2, Part 2.  The march character takes hold again, and this time it is more inexorable and driven, firmly anchored to D minor.  It begins quietly and ominously, however.  In the lower voice of the right hand, a stepwise arching pattern is established that does not move away from its notes (A—B-flat—A).  The upper voice and the bass are similarly steady.  The bass reinforces the middle voice on the first two upbeats.  The upper voice is actually quite static, and really only moves the harmony in the third and fourth measures.  The bass is more active, and adds a formidable long-short rhythm in the third measure.
1:00 [m. 25]--The previous marching pattern is stated an octave higher in both hands.  After the first two measures, there is a tremendous buildup.  The cadence figure is extended by two beats, as is the long-short rhythm in the bass.  Then those last two measures are restated.  The extended version of the imposing long-short bass rhythm is unchanged, but the right hand harmonies move higher above the middle voice, which briefly loses the first notes of the stepwise arching patterns.  After this, the climax is reached.  The right hand shoots up two octaves, using the arching figure without its first note, and the left hand moves up in solid chords.  At last, the tension is resolved in another huge descending arpeggio.
EXPOSITION REPEATED
1:16 [m. 1]--Theme 1.  First presentation ending on G major, as at the beginning.  The upbeat is before the repeat sign, and emerges directly from the preceding arpeggio (in m. 32).
1:26 [m. 5]--Second presentation ending on B major, as at 0:11.
1:37 [m. 9]--Transition with fanfare figures in G major and G minor, as at 0:22.
1:50 [m. 14]--Theme 2, Part 1.  Passionate melody in D minor, as at 0:36.
2:06 [m. 21]--Theme 2, Part 2.  First presentation of ominous march, as at 0:52.
2:14 [m. 25]--Restatement an octave higher, buildup, extension, and climax, as at 1:00.
DEVELOPMENT
2:30 [m. 33]--The first part of the development is based completely on Theme 1.  The bass in the upbeat moves up a half-step instead of the original fourth, and even though the bass is on E-flat, the key is actually its “relative,” C minor.  The second measure, due to half-step motion in the bass, moves to F major.  The continuation in the third and fourth measures is varied even more.  The general motion is up instead of down, and the left hand continues to cross over on all the weak beats.  The bass leaps down, then moves up by half-step again, but at the end, there is a strong arrival on B-flat major in both the bass and the melody.
2:39 [m. 37]--In a new, suddenly quiet continuation, the melody becomes more chromatic and even static.  The half-step motion on the upbeats circles back on itself.  The middle voice continues its familiar figuration, but the bass now reiterates B-flat as a “pedal point,” with the left hand still crossing over the right.  In the fourth measure, the melody and the middle voice become more closely integrated, with the melody moving down in an arpeggio over flowing downward arches.  The arpeggio is on B-flat, but now as a “dominant” harmony.  The left hand has an upward arpeggio on the same harmony, but strikingly in the slower “straight” rhythm (the first occurrence of such in this piece), creating a two-against-three rhythm.
2:48 [m. 41]--The upbeat is obscured as part of the previous two-against-three arpeggio.  Both the bass and the melody make a sudden and bold harmonic motion.  Brahms even changes the key signature to two sharps.  The pattern from 2:30 [m. 33] is replicated on a new level, but now at the prevailing more quiet level.  The first bass note is B, but the harmony suggested above it is G-sharp minor.  The second measure suggests C-sharp-major and the continuation reaches a strong arrival on F-sharp major.
2:56 [m. 45]--The continuation in F-sharp major closely follows that at 2:39 [m. 37], with a pedal point on F-sharp.  But the melody now crosses below the middle voice with no hand crossing.  Also, the half-step motion on the upbeats is subtly altered so that instead of circling, it reaches further down.  The fourth measure still uses the integrated melody and middle voice with the arpeggio over the arches, as well as the left hand arpeggio in straight rhythm, but it is unexpectedly on B major instead of F-sharp.
3:05 [m.49]--The previous passage is varied with the melody and middle voice (but not the bass “pedal point”) an octave lower.  The B-major arpeggio is revealed as the “subdominant” harmony in F-sharp, and the upbeat quickly re-establishes the key.  Other than the first measure, which uses a new and dark “diminished seventh harmony” and has an upbeat moving to the next measure by whole step, the passage closely follows the previous pattern.  At the end, the descending B-major arpeggio reaches into the range of the straight-rhythm left hand arpeggio, so the latter zigzags downward at the end to avoid entanglement.  The harmony is unchanged, including the upbeat leading to F-sharp.
3:15 [m. 53]--In a clever reversal, the roles of F-sharp and B are reversed, and the former becomes the preparatory “dominant” of the latter.  The following passage is firmly in B minor (matching the two-sharp key signature).  Theme 1 is abandoned in favor of the ominous closing march of Theme 2.  In a preparatory measure marked mezza voce, the stepwise arching pattern is heard in the bass, then it is transferred to its proper place in the middle voice.  The march theme itself is then heard in B minor, seemingly transferred directly, including the distinctive long-short bass motion in the third measure.  But this is diverted at the end, and instead of the decisive cadence in the fourth measure, the third measure is shifted down a step, and there is a strong suggestion of D major (“relative” to B minor).
3:25 [m. 58]--In another extremely effective harmonic change, D becomes the “dominant” harmony in the home key of G minor.  This arrives quite unexpectedly with another wholesale downward stepwise shift, and for half a measure it is major. The long-short bass motion is given in doubled (“augmented”) note values, but in its original form, with strong motion toward a cadence.  The arching patterns are also briefly expanded, but maintain a focus on D and E-flat.  The volume rapidly swells, then just as rapidly recedes.
3:32 [m. 61]--The two-flat key signature returns, and the previous three-measure pattern is repeated with the right hand an octave higher.  Again, it swells and recedes.  The cadence is stretched out, expanding the pattern to four measures.  The receding volume is continued in the expansion, reaching ppp.
3:41 [m. 65]--Re-transition.  It is very large, and based on a combination of Theme 1 and the stepwise arching patterns from the second part of Theme 2.  The ppp volume is enhanced with the indication sotto voce.  After the upbeat, the arching pattern on D and E-flat continues from the previous passage and remains in force (with frequent inflections to E-natural) through the entire long re-transition.  The left hand crosses over the right on the second and third beats of nearly every measure.  Each measure is derived from the opening of Theme 1.  In this first phrase, on the downbeats and upbeats, harmonized octaves in the low bass, doubled above by right hand octaves enclosing the arching patterns (which here remain on D and E-flat), move up and down, including the chromatic note G-flat, and circle back to a strong cadence on G.
3:51 [m. 69]--This phrase is similar to the last, but the octave motion in the right hand and low bass incorporates a new skip upward, then a leap down to a new chromatic note, this time G-sharp.  At the same time, the first inflection to E-natural occurs in the arching patterns.  Again, a strong cadence in G minor is reached.  The arching patterns are briefly replaced by broken octaves on D.
4:00 [m. 73]--In this third phrase, the right hand octaves and the left hand octaves (which are still harmonized) are no longer doubled, but placed in contrary motion.  While the arching patterns remain on D and E-flat, the introduction of the note B-natural in the crossing left hand notes on the second beat of each measure, along with the note A-flat in the octaves of both hands, strongly suggest a detour to C minor, but again, there is a strong cadence motion to G at the end.
4:09 [m. 77]--In the harmonically unstable fourth phrase, the inflection of the arching pattern to E-natural is in force the entire time, and the note B-natural also becomes constant in the now-static right hand octaves.  The left hand octaves, no longer harmonized, move downward by half-step.  There is an extremely strong buildup in the second measure (which has the left hand cross over on the fourth beat and not the third), and at the beginning of the third measure, which is marked fortissimo, an unexpected chord based on E-natural (already suggested in the second phrase) is revealed as the “dominant” of A major.  The volume quickly recedes, and the phrase is extended by two measures, continuing to emphasize this “dominant” harmony on E.  The right hand octaves drop out here.
4:22 [m. 83]--The final three measures of the re-transition attempt to re-establish G minor, but the continued presence of E-natural in the middle voice actually creates a highly unstable “diminished” harmony.  After the upbeat, the arching figures become a slow trill, with steady alternation of D and E-natural.  This is passed to the left hand as the right hand shoots upward in a G-minor arpeggio.  It then descends in a zigzag pattern, creating the impression of a 6/4 (as opposed to 12/8) meter.  At the same time, the volume recedes more and there is a slowing to a long fermata in preparation for the reprise.
RECAPITULATION
4:33 [m. 86]--Theme 1.  The arrival of the reprise after the huge re-transition is a relief, despite the harmonic instability of Theme 1.  Perhaps to emphasize this, Brahms makes the upbeat a full D-major chord (it had only been an open fifth before) to strengthen the bass motion to G.  After this, however, the first phrase of the theme precedes as it had at the beginning and at 1:16, ending on G major.
4:42 [m. 90]--Second phrase ending on B major, as at 0:11 and 1:26 [m. 5].
4:53 [m. 94]--Transition with fanfare figures in G major and G minor, as at 0:22 and 1:37 [m. 9].  The only change is at the very end, in the one-measure extension, and it is subtle but crucial.  The downward motion is narrower, and the closing fermata is on the “dominant” chord in the home key of G minor rather than D minor.  This allows all of Theme 2 to be set in G minor.
5:07 [m. 99]--Theme 2, Part 1, analogous to 0:36 and 1:50 [m. 14].  The passionate melody with the wide left hand arpeggios is stated in G minor.  It follows the exposition pattern closely, including the buildup and descending arpeggio.
5:22 [m. 106]--Theme 2, Part 2, analogous to 0:52 and 2:06 [m. 21].  The ominous march is stated in G minor, with the arching patterns on D and E-flat, where they were in the long re-transition.  While the right hand is lower than in the exposition, the left hand is raised to a higher octave.  This is out of necessity due to the scope of the keyboard.  This brings the hands closer together.  Because of this, the bass must often leave out the upper note of its octaves.  The buildup already begins at the end of the phrase.
5:30 [m. 110]--The restatement, extension, and climax analogous to 1:00 and 2:14 [m. 25] are significantly altered and intensified.  The passage already begins at a louder level and continues to build.  Although everything moves up to the higher octave as expected, the arching patterns are moved to B-flat and C, creating a fuller, richer harmony.  In addition, the harmonies above them are thirds that suggest E-flat major, making a hint at the opening of the piece.  Finally, the bass octaves already add the forceful rising long-short rhythm in the first two measures, where it has not been present before.  After these first two measures, the continuation and extension follow the pattern more closely, but the two measures at the climax, including the upward reach and plunging arpeggio, are cut off by the onset of the coda.
CODA
5:43 [m. 116]--The arrival is fortissimo, but the volume quickly recedes.  The arching patterns on D and E-flat become a trill-like alternation, as they did at the end of the re-transition before the reprise.  The left hand plays a wide ascending arpeggio, then descends in a zigzag pattern that suggests a 6/4 type of meter.  Everything is quite similar to the passage at the end of the re-transition.  The descent continues through two and a half measures with the right hand holding the G-minor chord and the inner slow trill.
5:49 [m. 118, second half]--At this point, Brahms begins one of the most elegant examples of his frequent technique of “notated ritardando,” using longer note values to create the effect of a slowing.  Here, he even marks it “quasi rit.”  Both the slow trill and the zigzag descent continue, but they are notated in straight rhythm (which has only been briefly seen) instead of the prevailing triplets.  The notes are still placed groups of six, however, so the effect is of slowing rather than a change of metric subdivision.  In actuality, two of these six-note groups are spread over a measure and a half instead of a single measure.
5:52 [m. 120]--The zigzag descent finally comes to a resting point in the low bass.  The trill-like alternation slows to six quarter-notes in triplet notation for one measure, then four straight quarter notes for the next one.  This continues the slowing effect without an actual change in speed.  Finally, the trill comes to a stopping point in the following measure.  It has also faded to almost nothing.  Suddenly, on the upbeat of this penultimate measure, both hands play a forceful fortissimo “dominant” chord.  The hands leap inward to the last clinching G-minor chord, which is doubled two octaves apart between them.
6:19 (runoff after 6:02)--END OF PIECE [123 mm.]
END OF PAIR


BRAHMS LISTENING GUIDES HOME

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