Roméo Records 7277

Notes on Rachmaninov Songs

The Dream: This song is a longing to times where all was peaceful and friends were around. But alas, all this has been now been like a dream, or was it ever true?
The song starts with "And I had a native land" like an idyllic picture seen through glass , goes on to describe the "tree swaying above", building the melody and then abruptly stops, and modulates" but it was a dream". Now the composer goes back to the previous melody and tells us about a circle of friends that were like family, throwing words of love from all sides…. But that was a dream. The piano accompaniment finishes the picture of another time, when perhaps all that was reality, but no more, it fades away in a dream.

How peaceful: Rachmaninov and his wife were on their honeymoon when he composed the work, which, not surprisingly, he also dedicated to her. This was obviously a blissful time in his life, then, true to his nature, Rachmaninov was moved to write music here about romance and passion, leaving out the sunshine and merriment he must also have felt. The song features one of the composer's most soaring, beautiful vocal melodies that would not have been out of place in a slow movement of one of his concertos or symphonies. The accompaniment is appropriately subdued and just as romantic as the vocal line. The text, by G. Galina, describes a pastoral scene where young lovers have come to be alone with nature and themselves.

He has taken everything from me:
This is a short dramatic piece. God was punishing and had taken all away, health, will power, even the air and dreams.
Now comes modulation and a completely different soft declamation: he did leave me with you my beloved so I can pray to him. So, despite all that has been taken away, there is consolation by the beloved one.

Cease thy singing, maiden fair:
The text for this song, written by the great Alexander Pushkin in 1828.Composed when Rachmaninov was 19, this song generates a compelling, gripping mood through its use of a folk melody-like line, and marvelous harmonic tensions created through the meshing of modal chords with stepwise chromatic inner voices and steadily pulsing pedal points. This approach is present at the beginning in the extended piano introduction and its brooding Russian soul.A simple harp-like arpeggiation on an A minor chord invites the vocal declaration of the first line in recitative style. "Do not sing, my beauty, your sad Georgian songs to me." The piano begins its pulsing chords again under the passionately melismatic vocal line "they remind me of that other life on a distant shore."
Two beautiful piano measures, built around a folk scale (descending: E, D, B flat, A, G sharp, F, E), serve as a simple interlude. The voice enters softly but immediately builds to impassioned declarations: "Alas, I am reminded by your cruel melodies of the steppe, the night, the countenance of a poor, distant maiden lit by the moon!".
The second interlude, built upon the unusual descending folk scale transposed down a perfect fifth, again grows out of the agitation of the previous passage. The singer is still not calmed, however, and the next line builds to a fortissimo apex on a high sustained A underscored with concerto-like sweeping scales and reiterated rising chromatic figures in the piano: "When you appear, I forget that cherished and fateful apparition, but then you sing, and I picture that image anew."
A third brief two-measure interlude introduces a new melodic figure in the bass built on a Phrygian mode similar to the folk scale. The simple rolled A minor chord of the first verse evokes its recapitulation. Then a very beautiful effect is achieved when the piano introduction is combined with simple sustained notes in the vocal melody line. An extended eight-measure coda provides a symmetrical complement to the piano introduction, and also mixes loving and brooding emotions in a satisfying closing.

Fragment from A. Musset:
This very dramatic piece describes the sufferings of a lonely soul, in agony and suffering. Why does his soul ache? No peace is found and something is imagined, perhaps hallucinated? The urgent, agitated accompaniment supports this very real turmoil of feeling. "There was a knock at the door, a groan, the dying lamp flamed brilliantly.. My God! The breath was stifled in my breast!" And then "Someone is calling me, whispering sadly.. .Someone has entered"…In this phrase the accompaniment strikes the same note 12 times, symbolizing the twelve times the clock strikes at midnight. Is it death that came to take our hero? But no, his cell is empty… it was only the clock striking. And there is the return to the reality and sufferings of loneliness and poverty.

This piece is a genius of painting of the daybreak separating from day as lovers. The painting is done like an impressionistic canvas and the beginning there is the confession "I love you", the description of blushing from that confession, but then there is also the illumination that love brings and the ardent kisses followed by the joy of love, despite the inevitable separation of one from the other, but then the next meeting will come.

Don't believe, my friend:
For describing the relation between lovers, in times of quarrel and in times of great passion, the example of the sea and seashore is used.
Just as at times of ebb, when the sea retreats from the land, it does not mean it will not return with roaring waves and engulf the land. So is the relation between the lovers. The song opens with "Do not believe , my friend" , then tell us that in times of sorrow things can be said that are not meant to be, just like the sea will always return to the land, so is true love. The music describes well the turbulence of feelings, just like the roaring of waves. And the second part of the song opens with an accompaniment building up to the climax "And now the waves are running back with roaring
From a distance to the beloved shoreline". The song closes with a grand cadence of the piano describing the surge of feelings as well as the picture of a roaring sea.

Yesterday we met:
There are 15 songs in Rachmaninov's Op. 26 set, making it his largest. Yesterday we met is one of the more widely performed among them. It is a setting of a text by Russian poet Yakov Polonsky (1819 — 1898), whose works also attracted the attention of Tchaikovsky, Taneyev, Cui, and other Russian composers. The text tells of a man's chance encounter with a former lover, providing the kind of subject matter to the melancholy, romantic muse of Rachmaninov that drew out the best in him. The song opens with a yearning, soaring theme that wallows in regret and a sense of loss. The piano accompaniment is mostly comprised of chords, their tolling manner reinforce the dark feeling of tragedy. Toward the end, the singer seems to cry out in anguish, Rachmaninov sounding as emotional here as in any of his other compositions.

Everything is passing:
set to the words of Rathaus, this melancholic song is all about things passing away with no return to past, with a blink of an eye. The sounds and visions of yesterday, the flower that blossomed today but will die tomorrow, the fire that will burn out and another wave coming after the first,thus engulfing all that was before..The melody leads further and further until we reach the climax of this sad song about the inevitable- one can't sing happy songs. The piano accompaniment rounds out this sad state of mind.

For long in love:
This is a rather different song dealing with the pains of rejected love. It opens with "For long in love there's been little consolation": then comes a rapid passage of the accompaniment and immediately after that the bursts "Sighs without reply", "tears without joy" ."What was sweet became sour", the melody leading down into the depths of desperation in "The rose leaves have fallen, the hopes have dispersed".
The section "Leave me, mix me with the crowd" put emphasis on "leave m", "but you turned away, you are angry with me, and still sick with me."- the lack of acceptance of the inevitable from the rejected lover.
Then another burst "O, how hard it is for me and how I am hurt!"

In the Mysterious Silence of the Night:
with a text by Afansij Afanas'evic Fet (1820 - 1892), this song expressing a barely restrained passion was composed on October 17, 1890, when Rachmaninov was 17. But already the composer's particular and individual sense of tonality can be heard, a "sound" that will blossom fully developed within a decade in the first two piano concerti.
The song opens with lightly pulsing triplets played pianississimo at a Lento tempo. Suddenly a descending series of heavily accented major and minor sixths rings out of the quietude disturbing the first measure's brief sensation of tranquility in the night. The pulse ritards and then starts again but now just slightly amplified (pianissimo) and cautious. The vocalist enters in a mood that is equally agitated, ecstatic, and puzzled. Rachmaninov constructs an elastic melody line formed of many different phrases with small patterns that internally repeat before preceding onward. The first phrase introduces a dream-like image: "In the silence of the mysterious night, your beguiling patter, smiles, glances, fleeting glances...." The piano answers the voice, and the chromatic inner lines complement the voice in both unison and contrary motion. The piano and voice then cross each other with ascending and descending melodies in contrary motion, creating elegant and touching momentary dissonances: "the locks of your flowing hair, those locks so pliant in your fingers, I will be trying for a long time to rid myself of these images only to evoke them once again." The melody circles around, each time flying toward a higher pitch until a climactic forte at the end of the phrase. The piano diminishes in volume and tries to descend back into the initial mysterious atmosphere. But before it can do that, the voice enters again with a new pattern, causing the accompaniment to change its pulsing into more on-rushing sixteenth-note arpeggios. This patterning and agitation perfectly fits the words: "I will be repeating and correcting in a whisper the words I've spoken, words that are awkward, and, drunk with love, and contrary to all reason, I will stir the darkness of the night with your beloved name, I will stir the darkness of the night with your beloved name." On the repetition of the last line the piano becomes concerto-like and the voice reaches its highest peaks in pitch, volume, and emotion. Very slowly, the subtle mood of the beginning returns with gently pulsing triplets in the piano, descending chromatic inner lines, and low vocal tones. "Oh, long in the silence of the mysterious night...." Then the voice and piano slowly ascend to close on an airy and crystalline texture underscoring the final line "I will stir the darkness of the night with your dear name."

Child, You Are Beautiful Like a Flower:
this song is gentle and pure pure The lilting melody leads us into the first line"Child, you are beautiful like a flower" , then "Enlightened, innocent and lovely", growing to "I look at you and wonder," the phrase "And my soul is alive again" given a shiny climax feeling . Then the lilting melody returns "I wish I could put my hands on your head" and another climax comes "Asking that God" descending gently on " will always keep you beautiful and innocent". The piano ending is again the lilting melody with evocations of oriental melody at the end.

She is as fair as noon day:
this gorgeous Rachmaninov song is the ninth song from Rachmaninov's Op.14 set set to the words of N. Minskii describes a beloved one as fair as noon,she is more mysterious than midnight. Her eyes have never shed a tear, her soul is a stranger to suffering. Jet, the singer knowing only struggle and sorrow, is destined to long for her just like the eternally weeping sea is in love with the silent shore.

Oh no, I beg you, do not leave!:
the first of opus 4 songs, this is a song musically looking back to the initial version of the central movement of the F harp minor piano concerto. This is a despaired expression of a lost love, where the man begs his beloved to remain and not leave, how he needs her love, better new sufferings that await him, they are like sweet talk and kiss to him and he can't think but about one thing" Oh, stay with me, do not leave!". This desperate cry ends the song with the piano echoing the turmoil of the man soul.

Notes on Brahms’ Songs

Brahms' devotion to Teutonic ideals is reflected in the great body of German folksong to which he turned with avidity. In 1894 Brahms published six volumes of Volks-Kinderlieder mit Clavierbegleitung-49 songs in all. These are a memorial of the affectionate relations which existed between the composer and Schumann family. They were written and dedicated for the children of Clara and Robert Schumann. The Wiegenlied is also dedicated to the child friends of the composer –Arthur and Berta Faber in Vienna. Brahms made use of 119 folk poems in his lied output. To fifty six he gave original settings. The others he arranged, not only by enriching the melodies but also by amendments of the melody. Brahms maintained a Classical sense of form and order in his works – in contrast to the opulence of the music of many of his contemporaries. Ein deutsches Requiem ("A German Requiem") is not a setting of the liturgical Missa pro defunctis, but a setting of texts which Brahms selected from the Lutheran Bible. The works of his last period are awesome in their grandeur and concentration, the last of his published works, the Vier ernste Gesänge (Four Serious Songs), are among the high points of his creativity.

This recording figures a selection of eight songs.

Die Mainacht

The title is May Night and the story of the poem maybe is that there is someone separated from his love. He is wandering around outside and he is reminded of this significant other when he sees a pair of doves. The words in the poem give the texture that he is being tormented from separation and is longing to the day he finds her again.
Brahms does an exquisite job conveying the text of "Die Mainacht" though his accompaniment and contour of the melody. The first definite key change in measure thirteen shows the change of thought of the singer. It also begins a new image of happy nature with the "pair of doves" juxtaposed with the previous image of the wandering, sad speaker. This cadence is especially important because it makes the rest of the second inversion tonic chords stick out as unsettling. It would be easy as a performer to relay this feeling of hopelessness and uncertainty with this accompaniment because the melody is very exposed just like the person observing this scene. The accompaniment is strong and smooth while the melody is very soaring and at parts seems detached because of the large range covered by the singer. There are some text painting words like "traurig" meaning sadly that uses a mixture and goes in a downward motion in the melody. Another is "taubenpaar" meaning pair of doves and the text painting makes it look like a pair and the wide jumps gives an image of birds soaring. The word "wende mich" translates to turn away and is shown with the large leap and the eight note and doted quarter is the physical motion of turning. In the text "suche dunklere Schatten" it translates to seeking darker shadows and is shown with a sudden dynamic marking dropping to piano and getting softer and slowing down. The text "einsame Trane" meaning lonely tear appears twice and has a downward motion in the melody and a pause that envisions a tear dropping. The piano postlude ends the poem and gives a feeling of contemplating and coming to a final decision and confirming it with an authentic cadence at the end.

Lullaby is the common name for a number of children's lullabies with similar lyrics and the same melody, the original of which was Johannes Brahms' Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht, Op. 49, No. 4 (published in 1868).
The first verse is taken from a collection of German folk poems called Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

O wüßt ich doch den Weg zurück
- Heimweh II (Homesickness II).
While the first "Heimweh" song is wistful, this one is more deeply introspective. The piano introduction sets up slow, sweeping arches over the long 6/4 bars. The line is richly chromatic. This pattern continues when the voice enters. The vocal line is also slow and introspective, but not as chromatic as the underlying piano arpeggios. Often, the voice moves in the opposite arch-like trajectory from the piano, and always in slower note values. Line 3 moves strikingly to the key of F major. Line 4 restores the prevalent E major key. The words "der Mutter Hand" are repeated over an inserted bar of 9/4, which creates a moment of even more breadth. A variation of the first two bars of the introduction leads to the next stanza.
Brahms marks "Lebhafter werdend" ("Becoming more lively") at this point. The line is more assertive. The piano abandons the long arpeggios in favor of a flowing left hand under a chordal right. The verse is largely set in the closely related key of B, with a major/minor mixture. The entire last line is repeated.
Stanza 3 (B'). Follows closely upon stanza 3, and is extremely similar, with the only major difference being a slightly more flowing second line ("Und nur zu träumen leicht und lind"). The last line is repeated, as in stanza 2. A quick key change back to E over a slowing of tempo to the original pace leads to the final stanza.
Stanza 4 (A'). The first two lines are exactly as in stanza 1, as the parallel text would suggest. The last two lines make an extremely subtle, but dramatic change. The slowly flowing accompaniment is suddenly aborted as the key changes to F again. It is replaced by rather stark syncopated octaves in the right hand. The fourth line, including a similar text repetition ("ist öder Strand"), and a 9/4 bar as before, retains the same contour, but is now set in E minor, rather than major, creating a seemingly pessimistic close.
Coinciding with the last note of stanza 4, the long arpeggios of the piano introduction return and restore the major mode. This creates a beautiful close that almost negates the pessimistic ending of the last stanza, but the many chromatic notes underscore the pervading melancholy mood to the end.

O kühler Wald
no 3 from op 72, on the words of Clemens Maria Wenzeslaus von Brentano is another masterpiece conveying the longing of one for his beloved. The grandeur of the forest, and its chilling cold come across by the accompaniment and the melody of the singer longing for his lost love like an echo in the forest.

This lovely song by Brahms conjures a moment from childhood or young adulthood most individuals had experienced in the composer's own time. Lying in the grass, observing the myriad elements of nature's display, the feeling that nothing else exists in the moment. Feldeinsamkeit (Field Solitude) is suffused with that magical feeling, expressed in long, flowing lines that suggest a suspension of time even as they slowly, and for the most part, steadily unfold. Suited to a variety of voices, from lyric sopranos to basses who can sing softly, it tests the legato of the finest artists. As with most of the composer's songs, the accompaniment has considerable depth. The singer, resting in the tall, green grass, muses as he gazes upward, listening to the crickets as the blue heavens enfold him. Clouds float by through the deep blue, like silent dreams. It is as though he had been long dead, rising in bliss with the clouds through endless space. The poem by Hermann Allmers is simple enough and Brahms' song gracefully adds a heightened sense of infinitude. The tempo is marked Langsam (slowly) as the accompanist plays two measures of quarter note chords in the right hand, slightly broken by dotted quarter notes in the left. The effect at such a spacious tempo is of great calm enhanced by a sense of random wonder. The volume is held to piano nearly throughout, except for several slight swells where fullness of feeling encourages the singer to ever so slightly expand the tone. These crescendos and decrescendos are subtle, however, so as to leave the dreamy landscape unruffled. Aside from supporting the text with a faithfulness that would do credit to Wolf (Brahms' nemesis), the accompaniment is one of arresting beauty in itself. The vocal line ranges lazily, magically before coming to rest on a gently voiced turn on the final word "Räume" (space, as in infinitude). The song ends, yet seems to softly echo on.

Sapphische Ode

Despite the title of this celebrated song by Brahms, the work borrows only the form, not the subject matter, of "Sappho of Lesbos." The quatrain pattern identified with the poetess was closely followed by both the writer, Hans von Schmidt, and the composer. Schmidt was something of a musician and became a member of Vienna circle with which Brahms spent considerable time. Submitted directly to Brahms, Schmidt's poetry (including this text) elicited an admiring reply; less than three years later, the composer set Sapphische Ode with respect for its structure and pleasure in its subject. The singer informs the listener that he picked roses by night from lowering hedgerows; they betrayed a sweeter fragrance than by day and, in motion, showered him with dew. In the second stanza, he tells of the fragrance of his beloved's kisses, picked by night from the rosebush of her lips. When stirred by her deepest feelings, she, like the rosebush, was bedewed, but with tears instead. Movingly heartfelt within the strictures of its restraint, this song has become a favorite of audiences as well as a test of the singer's ability to maintain a poised vocal line, especially through the slow turns that conclude both stanzas. Written for low voice (in D major), its range extends from D downward to the A an octave plus below. The accompaniment begins marked piano and, aside from one discreet swell in volume, remains piano or double piano throughout. Likewise, the singer is instructed to move within the same subtle dynamic range, confidingly making his (or her) points and with flawless legato. Details abound in this seemingly simple song. The accompaniment initially falls, not on the principal beats of its 4/4 meter, but on the offbeat, launched by an eighth-note rest. Under the vocal line, which begins in even quarter notes, the effect is of an undisturbed evenness and great calm. As the singer recalls the movement of the rose branches and the spattering of dew, the meter changes to 3/2 and the accompaniment crisply plays the right hand against the left in alternate staccato pulsations. The device is repeated in the second stanza to underscore the plucking of kisses.

Wie Melodien
zieht es mir is one of Brahms’s most popular songs. The tender lyricism of the principal melody alone could account for this popularity. Indeed, when considering the success of ‘Wie Melodien’, it can seem convenient to ignore the text (as Brahms himself appears to have done when he reworked the same melody in his A major Violin Sonata op. 100). Elisabet von Herzogenberg, one of Brahms’s closest friends and most perceptive critics, commented on the abstract nature of Klaus Groth’s poem. The exact meaning of the poem is elusive (an elusiveness that is, paradoxically, hard to capture in English): to what exactly does ‘es’ [it] refer? Like the perfume and mist the poem describes, the meaning seems to ‘waft away’ just when the reader is close to grasping it, and Brahms renders this sensation perfectly through the varying erosions of the tonic at the end of each strophe. But in this elusiveness lies an important clue. The poem is self-reflexive – it is a poem about poetry itself: much is lost in the process of transferral from the mind of the poet to the word on the page, but the sensitive and sympathetic reader (the ‘moist eye’) will still perceive the essence of the poet’s meaning. In the very act of selecting and setting this particular poem to music, Brahms adds another layer to the self-reflexivity of the poem. The melodies that move gently through the narrator’s mind are now audible, and the poem and music together seem to evoke the process of Lieder writing: melodies (Brahms’s) are captured by words (in this case Groth’s), but still it is only the ‘moist eye’ that will be capable of retracing the process and fully appreciating the composer’s intention.

(Betrayal), by Karl Lemcke, tells of a man who, outside his sweetheart's house, realizes she is seeing another. He hears her tell the strange man when to return, then waits for him and kills him. In B minor, the song is in ternary form with a central section, in which the man plans his revenge, on E flat minor. Brahms' familiarity with the folk song idiom is most clear in the occasional repetition of the last words at the end of a line.

Notes on Schubert’s Songs

Here is a selection of six songs by this great composer.

Der Leiermann
(The Hurdy-Gurdy Man)
At the end of the village he finds the old barefoot hurdy-gurdy man, winding away his tunes, but no one has given him a penny, or listens, and even the dogs growl at him. But he just carries on playing, and the poet thinks he will cast in his lot with him. The parallel with the singer singing his sad songs in the ice and the slow, unresolved melody of the hurdy-gurdy concludes the cycle with an eerily unfinished feel perfectly in character with the lonely wandering of the singer.

(Resting Place), Rellstab's title for the poem Schubert set in August 1828 (the setting became part of the set known as Schwanengesang, suggests one of the few examples of irony in all Schubert's Rellstab settings. How could the singer of the song find rest amidst the "surging rivers" and the "roaring forests" described in Rellstab's verses? Unless, of course, that is the point of Rellstab's poem: there is no rest, no comfort, no consolation, because the whole world is full of surging rivers and roaring forests. But whether or not Rellstab was being ironic, Schubert certainly wasn't being ironic at all; his setting of Aufenthalt is full of musical symbols of surging rivers and roaring forests, full of pounding chords and anguished themes; full, in other words, of symbols of unrest and disquiet. And yet the song rarely leaves the tonic key except for brief modulations to the relative major in the third verse and to the submediant minor at the song's fortississimo climax. And even then the music returns very quickly to the tonic. In fact, by dwelling so obsessively on the tonic minor, Schubert does impart a sense of rest to the music. Even if all the world is full of surging rivers and roaring forests, there is a kind of peace in knowing it, a kind serenity in accepting the tonic minor as the singer's destiny.
Four of Schubert's six Heine settings are frankly frightening. But by far the scariest song of the six Heine settings — indeed the single scariest song Schubert ever composed — is Der Doppelgänger (The Ghostly Double). In Heine's poem, the narrator walks the street of a dead city and meets beneath the window of the woman he loves his own doppelganger, wringing his hands with agony and grief. In Schubert's song, the shock and the terror of recognition is more than the singer can bear and he is realizes that he is in fact what he already was before the song began: quite mad.

Schubert's music is absolutely unique and absolutely unlike anything else that had ever been composed. The accompaniment is nothing but chords — unavoidable, inescapable chords, nearly all of them minor chords — which fall on the downbeat of every bar with only two tiny embellishments to relieve their grim monotony. And the vocal melody is not much more; in fact, it is more recitative than melody: the voice circles obsessively, endless around a single pitch, climbing at the song's first fortississimo climax on the word Schmerz (pain) to the octave above but then collapsing hideously back down to the original pitch. But the agonizing pain is palpable from the first note and the first climax simply states the obvious. But at the song's second climax, the melody again rise to the same fortississimo climax on the same awful pitch but this time on the word Liebesleid (love pain). And at that moment we know that the singer is mad, that the pain of love has driven the singer mad, and that this doppelganger is not his ghostly double but the singer himself.

Der Wanderer (D.493)
is the name of a Lied composed by Franz Schubert in October 1816 for voice and piano. A revised version was published near the end of May 1821 as opus 4, number 1. The words are taken from a German poem by Georg Philipp Schmidt (von Lübeck). The lied is set in the key of C-sharp minor with the tempo marking sehr langsam (very slow) and the time signature alla breve.
The song begins with a recitative, describing the setting: mountains, a steaming valley, the roaring sea. The wanderer is strolling quietly, unhappily, and asks, sighing, the question: "where?"
The next section, consisting of 8 bars of a slow melody sung in pianissimo, describes the feelings of the wanderer: the sun seems cold, the blossom withered, life old. The wanderer expresses the conviction of being a stranger everywhere. This 8 bar section was later used by Schubert as theme for a set of variations forming the second movement of the Wanderer Fantasy.
Next the music shifts to the key of E major, the tempo increases and the time signature changes to 6/8. The wanderer asks: "where are you my beloved land?" This place the wanderer longs for is described as green with hope, "the land where my roses bloom, my friends stroll, my dead rise" and, finally, "the land which speaks my language, Oh land, where are you?" Towards the end of this section, the music gets quite animated and forms the climax of the song.
Finally, the music returns to the original minor key and slow tempo. After quoting the question "where?" from the opening, the song closes with a "ghostly breath" finally answering the question: "There where you are not, there is happiness." The song closes in the key of E major.

Der Tod und das Mädchen
(D.531, February 1817, published by Cappi und Diabelli in Vienna in November 1821 as Op 7 No 3), Death and the Maiden in English, is a lied composed by Franz Schubert. The text is derived from a poem written by German poet Matthias Claudius. The song is set for voice and piano.
The piece begins with an introduction in D minor; the first eight bars in the time signature 2/2. Both hands play chords. The section is quiet and slow, and presents the musical theme of Death.
The Maiden enters in the ninth bar on an anacrusis. This section is more agitated than the first; it is marked piano and "somewhat faster" (etwas geschwinder). The melody gradually increases in pitch, chromatically at points. The piano accompaniment is syncopated, playing chords of quavers alternating in the left and right hand. A diminished chord in the first bar of the third line (ich bin noch jung) creates an eerie mood. In the eighth bar of the maiden's song, on the word rühre ("touch"), the quavers stop and the rhythm of the opening section returns. Then an imperfect cadence leads to a rest with fermata. The third and final section is Death's song. The music returns to the tempo and dynamics of the introduction. Death's melody has a narrow pitch range. The key modulates to F major, the relative major of D minor. With the last syllable of Death's song, the key changes into D-major. The coda is almost a repeat of the introduction, except it is shortened by one bar and is now in the major key.

Schubert composed his lied An die Musik ("To Music") in March 1817 for solo voice and piano, with text from a poem by his friend Franz von Schober. In the Deutsch catalog of Schubert's works it is number 547, or D547. It was published in 1827 as Opus 88 No. 4 by Weigl. A hymn to the art of music, it is one of the best-known songs by Schubert. Its greatness and popularity are generally attributed to its harmonic simplicity, sweeping melody, and a strong bass line that effectively underpins the vocal line.