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3:10 [m. 61]--Return of the section’s first melody.

The first two measures of the

opening phrase are as they were before, but the last two suddenly become brighter.

The harmonic motion is still to A-sharp major, but it is now a higher version
emphasizing

its preparatory “dominant” harmony at the end of the phrase.


3:28 [m. 65]--The second phrase is replaced by another transition. The inner
melody

moves steadily downward, and the key again moves, now more strongly, to the
“relative”

minor, D-sharp. The passage is intensely and richly chromatic.


3:47 [m. 69]--Re-transition. The key signature for B major returns, indicating a

transition back to the A section material. The motion back to B is accomplished

quickly, colorfully, and decisively. After lingering on the “dominant” harmony


(with

a very low bass F-sharp), the music settles down, reaching even lower and
introducing

mild syncopation in the upper triplets, with notes held over the beats. This has

a slowing effect. The long, hazy texture finally dissipates with a slow upward
arpeggio

the reaches into the treble and back into the world of the A section.
A’ Section--Tempo I, 3/4 time
4:08 [m. 73]--Part 1 (a). The presentation is nearly identical to that at the
beginning

of the piece, but with one striking difference. The two-note harmonies at the top

of each descending arpeggio are now split up, with the two notes being played twice

as fast as the rest of the arpeggio.


4:30 [m. 89]--Part 1 (a”), free variation. This long passage is related to Part

1 in general melodic and harmonic contour, but the texture and character are
radically

altered. For the first time in the piece, Brahms uses block harmonies. They are

hushed and somewhat mysterious. The right hand is in the tenor range, taking up

in the lower range where the familiar a passage left off. The left plays mostly

octaves in the low bass. The first phrase, corresponding to the first phrase of

a, has two “sighing” gestures followed by a yearning arch motion that extends the

phrase to an irregular five measures. The second phrase is similar, corresponding

to the second phrase of a. It adds a mild syncopation at the top of the arch
motion.
4:47 [m. 99]--At this point, the correspondence between this chordal section and

the a material becomes more nebulous. Another five-bar unit, this time with three

sighing gestures and an abbreviated two-measure arch with stronger syncopation, has

a kinship with the third phrase of a. But there then follow an almost fantasia-
like

11 measures. Sighing gestures and strong syncopation dominate the first seven of

them, along with a steady, largely chromatic descent in the bass octaves. There

is also an expressive buildup. The last four measures are a variant of the arch

motion that settles onto the expected “dominant” note, F-sharp. These 11 measures

could correspond roughly with the fourth and last phrase of a.


5:15 [m. 115]--Part 2 (b’). The contrasting passage from 0:45 [m. 17] is stated

in its entirety in a varied, but very recognizable form. The whole melody is moved

down an octave, while the descending arpeggios are replaced by the chordal texture

that dominated the previous passage, including the “sighing” gestures. These
remain

largely confined to the left hand.


5:32 [m. 125]--Part 3 (a’”). The first phrase from 4:30 [m. 89] is restated
beginning

in a darker minor-key version. At the arching motion, it again brightens, not in

B major, but in the “relative” major key of B minor, which is D major. The second

phrase, also derived from 4:30 [m. 89], moves back to B minor, ending suspended on

the “dominant” harmony, as expected. The extended coda, which is related to the

central B section, begins in D major.


Coda (B’ Section)--Più lento, D major/B minor, 6/4 time
5:54 [m. 135]--Because the previous section ended with a definite preparation for

an arrival on B, and because that note is in the bass, there is some feeling of the

key of B minor here. But it is actually D major, the “relative” key. The
beginning

of the mezza voce coda is analogous not to the opening of the B section, but to the

return at 3:10 [m. 61]. This “return” did not have the strong motion to F-sharp

major seen in Part 1, but instead quickly moved to the “relative” D-sharp minor.

That is also the case here, and D major is very quickly undermined in favor of B

minor. The end of the phrase reaches the “dominant” harmony of F-sharp major
(analogous

to the arrival on the “dominant” harmony of A-sharp [B-flat] major before).


6:14 [m. 139]--Continuing from the last phrase, this one is analogous to the
transitional

phrase at 3:28 [m. 65]. Like that phrase, this one has a downward descent in the

inner-voice melody and an even stronger pull to the “relative” minor (now B, the

home minor key). But now the phrase is extended to six measures. Halfway through

the third measure, it is interrupted unexpectedly by a version of the opening


melodic

gesture from the A section in right hand octaves. With this gesture, the home
major

key intrudes. At that point, the left hand plays the arching triplets more typical

of the right hand. This interruption extends to the end of the fourth measure.

The original phrase tries to reassert itself in the fifth measure, but it is again

interrupted by the melodic fragment. Brahms directs a very gradual slowing and
quieting

to the end.
6:44 [m. 145]--The last four measures have some similarity to the re-transition at

3:47 [m. 69], but they begin like a continuation of the previous phrase, a
“restarting”

after the second interruption of the A section melody. The key is already centered

on B, albeit minor. The descent now proceeds without interruption. The left hand

settles on low octaves. After one measure, the note D-sharp strongly asserts
itself

in the bass, then in the inner melody, signaling an inflection to B major. The
left

hand adds harmonies to its low octaves, and the slowing becomes more pronounced.

In the penultimate measure, marked “Adagio,” both hands settle on a static


undulation

over low B-major harmony, briefly swelling before coming to rest.


7:34--END OF PIECE [148 mm.]
END OF SET

AVE MARIA FOR FOUR-VOICE WOMEN’S CHORUS AND ORCHESTRA OR ORGAN, OP. 12
Recordings: Organ Version: North German Radio Chorus, conducted by Günter Jena;
Gerhard

Dickel, organ [DG 449 646-2]


Orchestral Version: Danish National Choir and Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gerd

Albrecht [CHAN 10165]


Published 1861.

Brahms’s first published choral work is one of the his most simple, ingratiating,

and straightforward pieces. The work only lasts around four minutes, making it one

of the shortest opus numbers in terms of performance length. It forms a sort of

pair with the contemporary Begräbnisgesang, Op. 13. The two works show him
presenting

himself as a composer for women’s choir and for mixed choir, reflecting the two
choral

directorships he held at this time. They also contrast Latin and German religious

texts as well as subordinate and dominant accompaniments. The Hamburg women’s


choir

would also be the impetus behind the four songs with horns and harp, Op. 17, the

setting of Psalm 13, Op. 27, the three sacred choruses, Op. 37, and the twelve
songs

and romances, Op. 44, along with some folksong arrangements. The Ave Maria and the

choruses of Op. 37 are his only examples of Latin text rather than German, not
counting

some early unpublished mass movements. In the gentle piece, Brahms largely eschews

the complex and intricate counterpoint and canon seen in such works as the Op. 37

choruses or the Geistliches Lied for mixed chorus (Op. 30). What counterpoint
there

is largely comes between the pairs of alto and soprano parts, who often sing in
pleasing

thirds. The 6/8 meter, with its pastoral implications, largely dictates the
character

of the piece. Brahms only sets part of the prayer’s second stanza in a brief, but

effective climax on “Sancta Maria.” Even the second alto parts, which often become

impossibly low in Brahms’s writing for women’s chorus, are rather reasonable here.

The piece is complicated by the situation of its accompaniment. Brahms originally

wrote it for organ in 1858, but orchestrated it a year later. The orchestration

adds a couple of woodwind lines to the otherwise exact reprise of the opening
section,

and creates a bit more color, but the organ accompaniment is perfectly adequate.
Brahms never again orchestrated a choral work of such modest length, the later
one-movement

choral/orchestral works (Opp. 53, 54, 82, and 89) all lasting over ten minutes.

The accompaniment itself is largely unobtrusive (in contrast to a work such as Op.

13 or Op. 27), and either doubles or lightly decorates the vocal lines. The four-
part

structure includes a repeated opening section, a contrasting, text-rich portion,

and the climactic “Sancta Maria” passage. Despite its rather uncomplicated key
scheme,

remaining in keys closely related to its home key of F major, some of the harmonies

are surprisingly dissonant and modern.

Note: The link to the English translation of the text is from Emily Ezust’s site

at http://www.recmusic.org/lieder. For the most part, the translation is line-by-


line,

except where the difference between Latin and English syntax requires slight
alterations

to the contents of certain lines.

IMSLP WORK PAGE


ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Orchestral Version--First Edition from Brahms-Institut
Lübeck)

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke--Orchestral
version

with organ part at bottom)


ONLINE SCORE WITH ORGAN ACCOMPANIMENT from the Choral Public Domain Library (Choral

Wiki)

Ave Maria. Liturgical Marian prayer. Andante. Four-part through-composed form

(AABC). F MAJOR, 6/8 time.

Latin Text:
Ave Maria gratia plena
Dominus tecum
benedicta tu in mulieribus
et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus.

Sancta Maria
ora pro nobis

English Translation [Note: Brahms’s setting of the second part only includes the

words “Holy Mary, pray for us.”]


ORGAN VERSION
First Part (A)
0:00 [m. 1]--Ave Maria. No introduction. The two soprano parts begin the flowing

6/8 melody in harmonious thirds in F major. They sing the word “Maria” twice,
moving

strongly to C major on the second statement, breaking the constant thirds at the

cadence. The right hand of the organ doubles the vocal parts, while the pedals
provide

bass support in long notes.


0:16 [m. 7]--The two alto parts now sing the opening phrase in C major, beginning

as the sopranos end their cadence. Their second statement of “Maria” is shorter,

breaking immediately away from the thirds and changing key yet again, to B-flat
major.

They are doubled by the organ left hand, which deviates somewhat from them at the

cadence.
0:25 [m. 11]--Gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Beginning with the cadence of the
altos,

the sopranos begin this text in descending broken chords, still singing in thirds.

The altos follow them at the distance of a bar, but their harmonies are not
parallel

thirds. The second phrase moves back to C as the first sopranos reach one note
higher

for their first pitch. The organ breaks into decorative rising arpeggios under
this.

As the altos finish their second phrase, the sopranos begin a closing statement

of “Ave Maria” based on the first melody in thirds, reaching a cadence. The altos

enter at that cadence, singing the same phrase an octave lower. The sopranos add

decorative chromatic interjections of “Ave” against the alto statement. The organ

doubles the altos. Following the alto cadence, a descending pedal line leads back

home to F major.
Second Part (A)
0:51 [m. 22]--Repetition of the opening music from the sopranos.
1:05 [m. 28]--Repetition of the alto response beginning in C major, as at 0:16 [m.

7].
1:14 [m. 32]--Repetition of the Gratia plena, Dominus tecum music and the closing

“Ave Maria” phrases, as at 0:25 [m. 11]. The descending pedal line is changed to

lead to the following minor keys.


Third Part (B)
1:41 [m. 43]--Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui. This

text is more compressed and sung to new music. The sopranos in thirds are followed

at the distance of one bar by the altos in thirds. The first “benedicta tu” is in

G minor, the second in A minor. This second statement continues the text with “in

mulieribus” The second sopranos break away from the firsts, joining the altos on

their second “benedicta tu” (the third one for the second sopranos), creating a
more

full harmony. The rest of the text is begun by the sopranos, now not moving
parallel,

followed by the altos, who are again in thirds, now at the distance of only a half-
bar.

All parts reach a half-close in C major. The organ manuals provide continuous
decorating

harmonized lines against the bass foundation from the pedals.


2:03 [m. 53]--Jesus. For the statement of the name of Jesus, the sopranos begin

a long descending line with notes held across bar lines. They reach a cadence in

C major. The altos, joined by the second sopranos (who are actually lower than the

first altos), with the second altos singing long low notes, follow with their own

descending line and move to A minor. The organ continues its flowing line, which

is now a single voice passed between the hands. There is a general pause of a
half-bar

after the A-minor arrival.


Fourth Part (C)
2:21 [m. 60]--Sancta Maria. All voices begin in unison on “C” without the organ.

Brahms directs that there should be a huge crescendo (swell in volume) over three

notes. At the second syllable of “Maria,” the voices break into a full chord while

the organ also makes a grand entry with a loud chord in the left hand and pedal,

the right hand playing the opening “Ave Maria” phrase. The loud chord moves the

music back to the long-absent home key of F major. The entire passage is repeated

for emphasis.
2:38 [m. 68]--Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis. The voices sing together in unison on

the note “F” and at a joyous loud volume. The organ becomes more active, playing

the original “Ave Maria” music under the voices’ long notes. The left hand
introduces
a rocking rhythm, and the pedals play widely separated notes between the feet,
mostly

in octaves. The word “ora” is stated twice. On the second syllable of the second

statement and the following words “pro nobis,” the voices harmonize and join the

organ’s motion. This last phrase is slightly chromatic. All voices and the organ

arrive together.
2:56 [m. 76]--Beginning on an upbeat, the organ plays a brief but powerful bridge,

the left hand following the pedals. The right hand enters with a chord as the
voices

again enter with three harmonized statements of “ora,” the first two beginning on

a half-bar, and the second beginning on a downbeat. As the third large statement

of “ora” ends, the organ pedals begin a rocking octave motion on “F,” which they

continue in a two-bar bridge that greatly diminishes in volume after the last “ora”

had already begun a slight quieting.


3:17 [m. 86]--Two more statements of “ora” from the voices at a quiet volume,
followed

by the completion of the phrase with “pro nobis.” The two alto parts have an
active

line on “nobis,” with the seconds following the firsts under the sopranos’ longer

notes. The organ doubles the voices’ very rich chords as the rocking octave in the

pedals continue, breaking the pattern as the harmony changes and then landing on

similar rocking octaves a few notes higher, on “C.”


3:32 [m. 92]--At the cadence of “nobis,” the second sopranos and first altos sing

in thirds on the opening “Ave Maria” melody to the “Sancta Maria” text, the word

“Maria” stated twice. The outer parts, first sopranos, then second altos, join
them

on long “F’s” on “ora pro nobis,” singing “ora” twice. All voices descend to a
quiet

cadence on “ora pro nobis” (the middle parts sing “ora” only once), the second
altos

trailing behind the middle voices. The first sopranos hold long notes over this

final motion. The organ continues to double the voices over a very long pedal “F.”

After the vocal cadence, the organ continues the descending line from the second

altos for one bar before two very quiet final chords.
4:07--END OF WORK [100 mm.]
ORCHESTRAL VERSION
First Part (A)
0:00 [m. 1]--Ave Maria. No introduction. The two soprano parts begin the flowing

6/8 melody in harmonious thirds in F major. They sing the word “Maria” twice,
moving

strongly to C major on the second statement, breaking the constant thirds at the

cadence. The violins double the vocal parts, while the low strings provide bass

support in long notes.


0:14 [m. 7]--The two alto parts now sing the opening phrase in C major, beginning

as the sopranos end their cadence. Their second statement of “Maria” is shorter,

breaking immediately away from the thirds and changing key yet again, to B-flat
major.

They are doubled by the violas, which deviate somewhat from them at the cadence.

The horns also enter on a long held note.


0:23 [m. 11]--Gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Beginning with the cadence of the
altos,

the sopranos begin this text in descending broken chords, still singing in thirds.

The altos follow them at the distance of a bar, but their harmonies are not
parallel

thirds. The second phrase moves back to C as the first sopranos reach one note
higher

for their first pitch. The strings break into decorative rising arpeggios under

this. As the altos finish their second phrase, the sopranos begin a closing
statement

of “Ave Maria” based on the first melody in thirds, reaching a cadence. The
clarinets,

who entered earlier, double them while the flute enters to support the strings.

The altos enter at this cadence, singing the same phrase an octave lower. The
sopranos

add decorative chromatic interjections of “Ave” against the alto statement. The

violas double the altos. Following the alto cadence, a descending bass line leads

back home to F major.


Second Part (A’)
0:48 [m. 22]--Repetition of the opening music from the sopranos. A new oboe
counterpoint,

a line not present in the organ version, is added.


1:02 [m. 28]--Repetition of the alto response beginning in C major, as at 0:16 [m.

7]. A new clarinet counterpoint, not present in the organ version, is added.
1:11 [m. 32]--Repetition of the Gratia plena, Dominus tecum music and the closing

“Ave Maria” phrases, as at 0:25 [m. 11]. The descending bass line is changed to

lead to the following minor keys.


Third Part (B)
1:37 [m. 43]--Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui. This

text is more compressed and sung to new music. The sopranos in thirds are followed

at the distance of one bar by the altos in thirds. The first “benedicta tu” is in

G minor, the second in A minor. This second statement continues the text with “in

mulieribus” The second sopranos break away from the firsts, joining the altos on

their second “benedicta tu” (the third one for the second sopranos), creating a
more

full harmony. The rest of the text is begun by the sopranos, now not moving
parallel,

followed by the altos, who are again in thirds, now at the distance of only a half-
bar.

All parts reach a half-close in C major. The strings provide continuous


decorating

harmonized lines against the bass foundation from the low strings. Additional
passages

for flutes and clarinets, not present in the organ version, are added.
1:59 [m. 53]--Jesus. For the statement of the name of Jesus, the sopranos begin

a long descending line with notes held across bar lines. The winds take over the

flowing line, passing it between instruments. The strings add doublings and
harmonies.

They reach a cadence in C major. The altos, joined by the second sopranos (who

are actually lower than the first altos), with the second altos singing long low

notes, follow with their own descending line and move to A minor. The winds
(reduced

to flutes) and strings reverse their roles from the previous phrase. There is a

general pause of a half-bar after the A-minor arrival.


Fourth Part (C)
2:14 [m. 60]--Sancta Maria. All voices begin in unison on “C” without the
orchestra.

Brahms directs that there should be a huge crescendo (swell in volume) over three

notes. At the second syllable of “Maria,” the voices break into a full chord while

the orchestra also makes a grand entry with a loud chord in the winds and lower
strings,
the violins playing the opening “Ave Maria” phrase. The loud chord moves the music

back to the long-absent home key of F major. The entire passage is repeated for

emphasis.
2:31 [m. 68]--Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis. The voices sing together in unison on

the note “F” and at a joyous loud volume. The orchestra becomes more active,
playing

the original “Ave Maria” music under the voices’ long notes. The violas and
bassoons

introduce a rocking rhythm, and the low strings play widely separated notes, mostly

in octaves. The word “ora” is stated twice. On the second syllable of the second

statement and the following words “pro nobis,” the voices harmonize and join the

orchestra’s motion. This last phrase is slightly chromatic. All voices and
instruments

arrive together.
2:49 [m. 76]--Beginning with the preceding arrival, the strings play a brief but

powerful bridge, the violins and violas following the low strings. The winds enter

with a chord as the voices again enter with three harmonized statements of “ora,”

the first two beginning on a half-bar, and the second beginning on a downbeat. As

the third large statement of “ora” ends, the low strings begin a rocking octave
motion

on “F,” which they continue in a two-bar bridge that greatly diminishes in volume

after the last “ora” had already begun a slight quieting.


3:08 [m. 86]--Two more statements of “ora” from the voices at a quiet volume,
followed

by the completion of the phrase with “pro nobis.” The two alto parts have an
active

line on “nobis,” with the seconds following the firsts under the sopranos’ longer

notes. The strings and horn double the voices’ very rich chords as the rocking
octaves

in the bass continue, breaking the pattern as the harmony changes and then landing

on similar rocking octaves a few notes higher, on “C.”


3:22 [m. 92]--At the cadence of “nobis,” the second sopranos and first altos sing

in thirds on the opening “Ave Maria” melody to the “Sancta Maria” text, the word

“Maria” stated twice. The outer parts, first sopranos, then second altos, join
them
on long “F’s” on “ora pro nobis,” singing “ora” twice. All voices descend to a
quiet

cadence on “ora pro nobis” (the middle parts sing “ora” only once), the second
altos

trailing behind the middle voices. The first sopranos hold long notes over this

final motion. The winds double the voices over a very long “F” from the basses and

horns in an imitation of organ pedals. The cellos double the second altos when
they

enter. After the vocal cadence, the cellos continue the descending line from the

second altos for one bar, including two flute interjections, before two very quiet

final string chords. The long horn notes are held over beyond these before fading

away.
3:49--END OF WORK [101 mm.]

BEGRÄBNISGESANG (BURIAL SONG) FOR CHOIR AND WIND INSTRUMENTS, OP. 13


Recording: North German Radio Chorus, conducted by Günter Jena; Members of the
North

German Radio Orchestra [DG 449 646-2]


Published 1861.

An early masterpiece that is both tragic and hopeful, this unusual work was one of

the first published pieces for chorus, along with the contemporary Ave Maria, Op.

12. It was written in 1858, two years after the death of Robert Schumann, and it

can be reasonably speculated that Schumann’s memory is behind this miniature


Requiem.

It can also be seen as a sort of preliminary study both for the slow marches of

the German Requiem in one sense and for the one-movement choral/orchestral works

such as the Alto Rhapsody and the Schicksalslied in another sense. The use of a

wind band accompaniment is inspired. It suits perfectly the character of the


piece.

There are no flutes or trumpets, Brahms instead opting for the darker tones of
oboes,

clarinets, bassoons, horns, trombones, and tuba. He also includes timpani, which

will play a very large role (and somewhat anticipate their use in the German
Requiem).

The omission of strings was meant to allow for open air performances; he
originally

intended to include low strings. They are not missed. Brahms was still treating

orchestral writing with caution at this point. The entire style of the work exudes

archaism. The minor-key melody of the outer sections is Brahms’s own composition,

but it is very characteristic of an old Lutheran chorale. The old, quasi-


liturgical

text contributes to this character. The wind scoring suggests Brahms’s familiarity

with the Renaissance Venetian composer Giovanni Gabrieli and his compositions for

antiphonal brass choirs. The middle section in major, setting the fourth through

sixth stanzas, reflects his study of J. S. Bach cantatas. The work’s pacing is
superb.

Brahms builds inexorably toward the climax at the beginning of the third stanza.

He reserves the sopranos until the phrase immediately preceding the climax, making

their entry extremely dramatic. They drop out again for the brief closing return

of the opening music. The short work has a shattering impact, and should be better

known.

Note: The link to the English translation of the text is from Emily Ezust’s site

at http://www.recmusic.org/lieder. For the most part, the translation is line-by-


line,

except where the difference between German and English syntax requires slight
alterations

to the contents of certain lines. The German text (included here) is also visible

in the translation link.

IMSLP WORK PAGE


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

Begräbnisgesang (Burial Song). Text by Michael Weiße. Tempo di Marcia funebre.

Ternary form with abbreviated return (ABA ’ ). C MINOR, 4/4 time.

German Text:
Nun laßt uns den Leib begraben,
Bei dem wir kein’n Zweifel haben,
Er werd am letzten Tag aufstehn,
Und verrücklich herfürgehn.

Erd ist er und von der Erden


Wird auch wieder zu Erd werden,
Und von Erden wieder aufstehn,
Wenn Gottes Posaun wird angehn.

Seine Seel lebt ewig in Gott,


Der sie allhier aus seiner Gnad
Von aller Sünd und Missetat
Durch seinen Bund gefeget hat.

Sein Arbeit, Trübsal, und Elend


Ist kommen zu ein’m guten End.
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