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A Paper Presented to Dr. Alanna Keenan Franciscan University of Steubenville

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Course MUS302 Music History II


John Brodeur

May 2011

Box #217

ACHIEVING UNION AT A DISTANCE A STUDY OF BEETHOVEN‘S AN DIE FERNE GELIEBTE, OP. 98 Wilhelm von Lenz, a nineteenth century German official, writer, and friend of today‘s most remembered Romantic composers, once remarked about Beethoven‘s song cycle: ―[It is a] masterpiece that is not at all well enough known and appreciated.‖ 1 This remains true today not only because of its significance as the first song cycle ever written, but also because of its significance as the gateway to Beethoven‘s late style, its embodiment of Romantic principles, and its philosophical quandaries which concern the relationship between fantasy and reality. Consequently, this paper will function as a worthy means of growing in the knowledge and appreciation of Beethoven‘s first and only song cycle, so highly valued by Wilhelm von Lenz. By a sincere consideration of the most recent scholarship, the reader will most likely find himself in agreement with von Lenz‘ own sentiment. The Poems An die ferne Geliebte is a cycle of six songs which was composed around April 1816 and published in October of the same year. The texts were written by a physician named Aloys Jeitteles, 2 According to Kerman, an American twentieth century critic and musicologist, it appears that the poems of An die ferne Geliebte were never published apart from the music, so the composer must have obtained them from the Jeitteles himself. 3 Kerman asserts that the last stanza of the first song is almost certainly an addition by Beethoven, a tampering which he is known for in cases of other original literary material. 4 As

1 Nicholas Marston, ―Voicing Beethoven‘s Distant Beloved‖ in Burnham, SG, and MP Steinberg, Beethoven and His World (Princeton University Press, 2000), 124.

2 Ibid.

3 J. Kerman, ―An die ferne Geliebte.‖ in Write All These Down: Essays on Music (University of California Press, 1998), 173.

4 Ibid., 176.



Kerman points out, a fifth stanza breaks the rigid symmetry in the stanza count and general layout of the poems: the first, middle, and last poems contain four, eight, and four stanzas of four trochaic lines each, and poems 2 and 5 contain three stanzas of six anapestic lines.

poems 2 and 5 contain three stanzas of six anapestic lines. Table 1. The structure of

Table 1. The structure of An die ferne Geliebte from Kerman, p. 177.

Since Beethoven chose to set the two middle songs in the same key, it seems logical to interpret the two poems as a unit, thus dispensing with any apparent incongruence in the symmetrical pattern. 5 Kerman even posits that Jeitteles may have written poems 3 and 4 as a single entry which Beethoven later split at a logical point because eight stanzas were too much for a strophic setting. 6 A sense of continuity is established by the continuity of certain images from one poem to the next. The ―berg‖ (―mountain‖) and ―thal‖ (―valley) in the first song carry over into the second song, and the ―wolke‖ (―clouds‖) and ―wind‖ (―wind) in the second song turn into three of five insistent images of the middle songs: ―wolken‖ (―clouds‖), ―segler‖ (also ―clouds), ―weste‖ (―westwinds), ―vöglein‖ (―birds‖), and ―bӓ chlein‖ (―brook). These remain present even in the fifth song where ―weste‖ becomes ―lüfte‖ (―breezes‖), ―bӓ chlein‖ becomes ―bӓ che‖ (―brooks‖), the ―büschen‖ (―bushes‖) becomes ―au‖ (―meadow‖), and the ―vöglein‖ becomes a ―schwalbe‖ (swallow) complete with its own family. 7

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid., 177.

7 Ibid.


In addition to continuity, Kerman beautifully describes a crescendo in feeling and fantasy

as one song spills into the next:

―First the lover dwells nostalgically (but realistically) on the spaces separating him from his beloved, spaces filled by mountain, valley, and wood (no. 2). Next, he begins to dream of agents that will bridge space for him. In no. 3, these agents are to convey to the beloved his greetings, his image, his sorrows, sighs, and numberless tears; in the markedly warmer no. 4, he wishes to be taken to her (by the bird), to fondle her (with the wind), and to see her image (in the brook). Fantasy runs riot in the picture of the Biedermeier love nest, no. 5, with its heady anapestic meter.‖ 8

From there, Kerman goes on to observe how sharply the fifth song contrasts a lover‘s distress

with the general burgeoning of springtime two seemingly opposed ideas. 9 The sixth poem, he

concludes, marvelously represents the culmination of the modest drama and fantasy in songs 2-6,

grounding the cycle in a sense of purpose: that the songs are being sung not simply to express the

lover‘s pain, but for the purpose of having the songs sung back by the beloved. 10

Biographical Connection

Alexander Wheelock Thayer, one of Beethoven‘s biographers, wrote that ―no one can

hear [these songs] adequately sung without feeling that there is something more in that music

than the mere inspiration of poetry.‖ 11 For Thayer, that ―something more‖ was indicative of the

likelihood that the Distant Beloved of Jeitteles‘ poetry was significant of an actual woman with

whom Beethoven had been romantically involved. 12 Is it really all that likely? Perhaps it would

be less so if the subject matter were limited to a particular work, but Kerman testifies that the

Distant Beloved is a rather frequent theme in Beethoven‘s song poems. 13

In a letter to Ferdinand Ries (a contemporary German composer) dated May 8, 1816,

Beethoven wrote, ―I found only one [woman], whom I shall doubtless never possess;‖ and a

diary entry for September 16, 1816 written by Fanny del Rio records a conversation between

8 Ibid., 178.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Thayer, Alexander Wheelock, rev. Elliot Forbes, Life of Beethoven, (Princeton, 1967), 647.

12 Marston, 124.

13 Kerman, 178-9.


Beethoven and her father in which Beethoven revealed that he had fallen hopelessly in love some five years earlier. 14 This estimate places Beethoven‘s love in close proximity with his ―Letter to the Immortal Beloved‖ written on July 6-7, 1812. 15 Thus, it is concluded by most biographers that the letter addresses the same woman that the song cycle does. 16 Kerman comments: ―Beethoven was attracted to many women, but so far as we know he withdrew from a full commitment to any of them. He either chose his women at a safe distance or, when necessary, placed them there…. The domestic bliss of the fifth song is strikingly congruent with Beethoven‘s own nostalgic wishes. 17 Beethoven‘s own diary contains two entries from 1816 implying that the possible identity of the woman could be his friend Antonie, or ―Toni,‖ Brentano: ―Regarding T. nothing is left but to trust in God; never to go where weakness might lead to do wrong; to Him alone, the omniscient God, leave all this. … But toward T. [be] as good as possible; her devotion deserves never to be forgotten though, unfortunately, advantageous consequences for you could never result therefrom.‖ 18 It is a widely accepted idea that Beethoven used music as a field for working out tough emotions, a practice which he memorialized by the resolution of his ―Heiligenstadt Testament.‖ During a comparable moment of crisis, he put his pen to another famous document: the aforementioned ―Letter to the Immortal Beloved.‖ There, as in the ―Heiligenstadt Testament,‖ Kerman observes Beethoven bringing his feelings to the fore, exposing them, and then renouncing them. If this is true, then Beethoven must have assuredly found a proper expression in Jeitteles‘ poetry of how his love was removed from him in time and space: both harshly detached from his psyche and temporally behind him. 19

14 Marston, 124.

15 Ibid.

16 Kerman, 180.

17 Kerman, 179-80.

18 W. Kinderman, ―The Hammerklavier Sonata: 1816-1818‖ in Beethoven (University of California Press, 1995), 210.

19 Kerman, 181.


Style Period

An die ferne Geliebte stands at the threshold of Beethoven‘s late style, a period which

Lewis Lockwood calls ―the twilight stage of his career that divides the ‗second‘ period from the

‗third.‘‖ 20 In his work on Beethoven, Kinderman writes:

―As Alfred Brendal has suggested, Beethoven‘s late music involves a general expansion and synthesis of the means of expression, whereby opposites are often juxtaposed, with every new complexity of style seeming to parallel, as its antithesis, a childlike simplicity. Normal modes of analysis are inadequate to grasp the tremendous richness of this idiom, which ‗embraces equally the past, present, and future, the sublime, and the profane.‘‖ 21

In an unprecedented way, the song cycle allowed Beethoven to employ the subtle art of musical

sophistication for the work as a whole while retaining an appropriate simplicity for each

individual song. Thus, for him the genre temporarily resolved the age-old dichotomy between

strophic and through-composed styles. 22 Raymond Knapp, a contemporary musicologist,

observed that the cycle places an extraordinary weight on directly simple, folk-like vocality

resonant with that generation of German romanticism. 23 Aside from the An die Freude, he notes,

this is the only canonic work from Beethoven‘s extended ‗late period‘ with vernacular German

texts. 24

These differences justify Kerman when he says that An die ferne Geliebte is a quiet

herald of the third-period style.‖ 25 The assimilation of folk music and the unique treatment of

tonality, which mark the third period, bear a tendency toward more immediate communication

on the most basic level. This assimilation of the folk does not mitigate musical sophistication.

Beethoven could never have accepted such an ideal in its strong form. 26 Thus, in Beethoven‘s

20 Elaine Sisman, ―Memory and Invention at the Threshold of Beethoven‘s Late Style‖ in Burnham, SG, and MP Steinberg, Beethoven and His World (Princeton University Press, 2000), 51.

21 Alfred Brendal, Music Sounded Out (Robson Books, 1995), p. 63 as cited in Kinderman, 216.

22 Kerman, 183.

23 Raymond Knapp, ―Reading Gender in Late Beethoven: An Die Freude and an Die Ferne Geliebte,Musicologica 75, no. 1 (2003): 45.

24 Ibid.

25 Kerman, 200.

26 Ibid.


late period, Kerman denotes not only a ―determined effort toward simple, direct expressionbut also the presence of new complexities (such as the way he treats tonality). 27 According to the assertions of Elaine Sisman, a professor of music at Columbia University, each of Beethoven‘s very few major works between 1815 and 1816 include a return of the first movement‘s opening melody either within or just before the final movement. 28 This is most certainly true of Beethoven‘s song cycle. The last verse of the cycle noticeably recapitulates the melody of the first song. In her essay, Memory and Invention at the Threshold of Beethoven’s Late Style, Sisman characterizes this return of the opening melody in three ways:

1) as a romantic detail which evokes nostalgia and even regret; 2) as an experiment for a new multi-movement form which is both self-referential and teleological; and 3) as a sign of the ―fantasy‖ element which has an ―inner life.‖ Each of these characterizations, she goes on to say, understands the return as an expression of memory. 29 Kinderman has a delightfully existential reflection on this use of cyclicism in his work. He writes: ―The cycle turns back on itself, forcing the listener to reflect on the meaning of the circular design of the whole, with its symbolic embodiment of the perennial, unending theme of human communication and separation. It is the possibility of a true intimacy that is at stake here: ‗From the heart, may it go to the heart!,‘ as Beethoven wrote into his score of the Missa solemnis.‖ 30 Distance The circular design of the work, as opposed to a more linear style of composition has a variety of implications open to interpretation. Richard Kramer writes, ―Tellingly, this cycle that most nearly mirrors the figural notion of circle is the one least driven by the narrative impulse no story is told, no past recapitulated. Space and landscape are its controlling media: the passage

27 Ibid., 183.

28 Sisman, 51.

29 Ibid.

30 Kinderman, 213.


of time is minimal, unarticulated, barely perceived.‖ 31 Despite the fact that the cycle is not a

narrative work as Kramer points out many scholars do find temporal significance in the

setting, most especially through images of space and landscape, what Kramer calls the

―controlling media.‖ How does one derive temporal meaning from spatial images? He

accomplishes this most effectively using a hermeneutic of distance.

Romantic philosopher Novalis once wrote, ―In the distance everything becomes poetry

poem. Actio in distans. Distant mountains, distant people, distant events, etc., everything

becomes romantic, quod idem est from this results our essentially poetic nature.32 Berthold

Hoeckner, a music professor at the University of Chicago, further elaborates and explores

Novalis‘ notion of distance:

―Novalis‘s use of distance captures the imagination of the musician: distant philosophy sounds like poetry. Dying away into the distance, prose turns into poetry, speech into vocalize, language into music. Distance, then, effects on a material level what has become a commonplace of romantic and romanticizing aesthetics: that ‗all art,‘ as Walter Pater famously put it, ‗constantly aspires towards the condition of music.‘‖

Here, Hoeckner is speaking to Romantic aesthetics, the idea that music is the most privileged of

the arts because it creates the most perfect expression. It‘s capacity for expression is due, in no

small part, to its uncanny ability to merge temporal categories: ―Like the extension of tone into

ideal space, the resolution of future and past into the present results in the unlimited expansion of

time within a single instant of the temporal continuum.‖ 33 Thus, music paradoxically exists as

moment and movement. 34 The circle is an image of its eternal present-ness, and the line is an

image of its eternal compulsion to move forward. This can be most keenly observed in the

reverberation of a sound within an acoustically pleasing environment. The sound is temporally

31 R. Kramer, Distant Cycles: Schubert and the Conceiving of Song (University of Chicago Press,

1994), 9.

32 Novalis trans. by Berthold Hoeckner, ―Schumann and Romantic Distance,‖ Journal of the American Musicological Society 50, no. 1 (1997), 55.

33 Ibid., 61.

34 Ibid.


sustained and spatially expansive, and consequently overcomes both temporal and spatial

distances simultaneously.

Novalis illustrates romantic distance with three archetypes: 1) spatial distance in

landscape, 2) temporal distance in recollection of the past, and 3) personal distance in separation

from the distant beloved. 35 All three of these archetypes are at play in the An die ferne Geliebte,

and they signify each other. Beethoven employs a variety of techniques to help communicate

this. For example, Sisman writes: ―The spatial distance of the beloved is mirrored in the

temporal distance between the first and last songs, and the hope that sharing these songs will

somehow join the lovers adds the final cyclic touch.‖ 36 Here, Sisman observes how the

circumference of any circle has a dimension of linear distance to it, and although the beginning

and ending remain the same, the entire circumference separates them. Thus, Beethoven employs

a variety of images, most especially spatial ones in order to convey the notion of a temporal

distance which can at once be both distant and simultaneous. Kerman aptly observes:

―If his beloved is really within ‗spying distance,‘ or close to it, he might well set about crossing the intervening landscape rather than making up mawkish songs. We can perhaps take the cycle a little more seriously if we are prepared to regard space-distance as a metaphor, gradually clarified by the poet, for time-distance.37

There is a remarkable and easily observable progression of spatial and temporal imagery

in Jeittele‘s six poems. The first two concentrate on the physical distance which lies between the

lovers; the third and fourth poems concentrate on the agents that bridge that distance while

introducing the first temporal images of the cycle; and the last two poems concentrate

overwhelmingly on temporal images. In fact, there is only one explicitly spatial image to be

found in the entire last poem: ―Bergeshöh‖ (Mountain peak). Kerman interprets this evolution of

imagery as Beethoven‘s attempt to use spatial distance as a metaphor for temporal distance,

which is gradually clarified over the course of the cycle. The opening two lines in the first

35 Ibid., 56.

36 Sisman, 78.

37 Kerman, 129.


song‘s final stanza, ―Denn vor Liedeklang entweichet / Jeder Raum und jede Zeit,‖– which Kerman believes were composed by Beethoven‘s own hand – provide the poem with one line that explicitly confirms this uniting of time and space: ―For at the sound of songs, / all time and space will recede.‖ 38

Memory Charles Rosen acclaims Beethoven as ―the first composer to represent the complex process of memory …the physical experience of calling up the past within the present.‖ 39 He says this in particular reference to the way Beethoven has set the second verse of the second song. In this particular verse, curiously set in the subdominant of the local tonic, G major, the piano acquires the previous vocal melody and the voice declaims the text on a monotone g 1 . Theorizing as to the significance of this moment, Rosen posits that Beethoven was endeavoring ―to portray the separation of present reality and past memory. The genius of Beethoven is revealed best of all by the restriction of the voice to a single note: it seems as if the lover, now completely passive, is submitting almost involuntarily to the incursion of memory.‖ 40 It is as if the lover is momentarily distracted from the present moment, which is being sustained in the piano accompaniment, while being stirred to a memory that demands his full attention. 41 Rosen also observes how uneasily this ―incursion of memory‖ accompanies a text with overwhelmingly visual and spatial concerns. 42 The text itself indicates that there is at least a minimal past to be recapitulated: ―Nach den fernen Triften sehend, / Wo ich dich Geliebte, fand‖ (―toward the distant meadows / where, beloved, I found you.‖). Here, ―fand‖ is expressed in a perfect tense: ―I found you,‖ thus alluding to at least some sort of prior event. 43

38 Ibid., 178-9.

39 Charles Rosen, The Romantic Generation (Cambridge, Mass., 1995), p. 166.

40 Ibid., p. 169.

41 Marston, p. 125, 133.

42 Rosen, 169.

43 Marston, 126.


Nicholas Marston, a faculty member of Cambridge University, testifies that ―the real temporal dimension of these poems, though, lies not in the past but in the future.‖ 44 During the final two verses of the last song, the lover communicates how the idea of music, and most specifically the exchange of Lieder, will become the means of bridging the distance that separates them. Thus, as Marston asserts, the cycle is not so much recalling a former happiness as it is proposing a future achievement of that former happiness. Additionally, Marston takes notice of how lines 1, 3, and 4 of the final verse all use the present tense rather than the future tense, indicating a kind of ―temporal transformation whereby the future becomes realized in the present, and the thing desired becomes the thing already obtained.‖ 45

Key Relations During the entire course of the cycle, Kerman takes notice of how carefully the transitions are arranged so as to avoid stable and convincing modulations. The new keys are always simply asserted and placed in relation to the original tonic such that the Eb remains a lasting tonic. The cadences of the two middle songs are too weak to suggest any independent tonality of their own. 46 Between each song is a piano transition which carefully avoids establishing a new key by way of a true modulation. Even internally, most songs avoid modulation. The striking exceptions to this are in song no. 2 when the second stanza shifts to the subdominant, C, and in song no. 6 when the second stanza modulates to the dominant, B flat. 47 The significance of these two moments will be revisited shortly. Kerman points out two additional things about the overall key scheme: 1) the strength of the mediant, G, shadowed by the submediant, and 2) the weakness and almost nonexistence of the dominant, Bb. Even the subdominant, although it is the key of both middle songs, is largely weakened. As such, Ab serves less like an actual subdominant and more like an upper neighbor

44 Ibid.

45 Ibid.

46 Kerman, 201.

47 Ibid., 188.


to the important mediant degree, G. In the example provided by Kerman, small notes indicate the initial notes of the melodic material, stemless ―chords‖ indicate vocal ranges, and circled notes indicate their cadential tonics. He remarks how the tessitura rises steadily, mirroring the emotional crescendo of the work at large. 48

the emotional crescendo of the work at large. 4 8 Figure 1: The Key Scheme of

Figure 1: The Key Scheme of An die ferne Geliebte, from Kerman, p. 186.

Significant Motives The most significant melodic gesture in song no. 1 is the drop of a sixth from Eb to G on the word ―spӓ hend.‖ Not only is the melodic gesture special but also the harmony of the resultant C-minor (iii) chord, especially because it is approached by a leap in both outer voices. 49

it is approached by a leap in both outer voices. 4 9 Figure 2: Measures 1-3,

Figure 2: Measures 1-3, complete with the drop of a sixth.

Another important interval in the cycle is the descending third from Bb to G, between the dominant and mediant degrees (5 and 3). The thrice repeated Bb in the opening statement finally arrives at G on ―spӓ hend‖ concluding the first melodic phrase. The same descending third is prominent in songs 2 and 5, with song no. 2 actually ending with the 5-3 interval on the words ―Ewiglich dein!‖

48 Ibid.

49 Ibid., 193.


12 Figure 3: Measures 99-101, illustrating the 5-3 interval at the end of song no. 2.

Figure 3: Measures 99-101, illustrating the 5-3 interval at the end of song no. 2.

The 5-3 interval is also the fundamental basis for the relationship between songs 1 and 6. The initial, final, and peak notes of phrases 1, 2, and 3 of the first song mirror phrases 1, 2, and 4 of the sixth song. Even the descending minor sixth is present in the first melody of song no. 6, albeit filled in. Finally, the identical cadences of phrases 1 and 4 consist of the descending 5-3 interval filled in diatonically. 50

Hyperbolic Musical Disjunction According to Marston, there is a ―fundamental ironic self-reflexivity‖ to Beethoven‘s cycle. 51 The lover himself describes the character of his songs in the penultimate verse as ―sounding without the adornments of art:‖ ―ohne Kunstgeprӓ ng‘ erklungen,‖ and yet Beethoven‘s ―compositional artifice evidenced by the overall tonal scheme, the concatenation of all six songs by means of linking transitions, the recall of the opening music in the final verse of the song, and the rich network of motivic links among individual song melodies‖ suggests precisely the opposite sentiment: that these songs are in fact resounding with artistry. 52 Marston also remarks that it is worth observing how the cycle dramatizes both its own genre and its status as a constructed work. 53 In the penultimate verse of the first song, the lover resolves to sing songs which speak of his anguish – ―Singen will ich, Lieder singen, / Die dir

50 Ibid.

51 Marston, 128.

52 Ibid.

53 Ibid.


klagen meine Pein!‖ (―I will sing, sing songs / of lamenting that tell you my distress!‖) Thus what Marston calls an ―interior‖ secondary song cycle becomes embedded within the larger cycle. 54 The lover begins singing his own composed song cycle as the protagonist of Beethoven’s song cycle. As Marston points out, a shift in the ―voice‖ is emphatically marked from the end of the first song to the beginning of the second song, most especially by the diminuendo from piano to pianissimo brought about by the abrupt reduction of the full triad to repeated octaves with a pedal instruction. This aural effect, he asserts, can be clearly identified as a new beginning. 55 Marston further explains his assertion by illustrating how measures 53 and 54 represent what Carolyn Abbate, a renowned musicologist, describes as a ―site of hyperbolic musical disjunction.At such a place, music‘s ―narrating voice‖ makes itself heard. 56

music‘s ―narrating voice‖ makes itself heard . 5 6 Figure 4: Measures 49-59, containing the site

Figure 4: Measures 49-59, containing the site of hyperbolic musical disjunction.

54 Ibid., 129.

55 Ibid., 129.

56 Ibid., 129.


The first song is an example of what Hans Boettcher identifies as a ―variirte Strophenlied,‖ a ―formal type in which strophic repetition of the vocal melody is offset by the use of variation technique in the piano accompaniment. The procedure results, as here, in a gradual energizing of the accompanimental figuration.‖ 57 Marston boldly asserts that the conclusion to the energetic development in measure 54 can be understood as a reference to conventions governing the approach to a cadenza in the classical concerto: the second inversion G-major chord, complete with a fermata, has an ―unmistakably curtain-raising, annunciatory quality‖ 58 whereby the voice of the lover, rather than breaking free of the constraints of the artificial as is normally the case in a cadenza binds itself to an artifice directly opposed to the ―natural‖ expression of feelings in the opening song. The lover thus introduces a constructed, established, and ultimately limited expression which will allow his beloved to return it to him. 59 The return to a ―natural‖ expression can be plainly identified in the poetry at the beginning of the last song, but rather than being brought about by another moment of ―hyperbolic musical disjunction,‖ the return is entirely characterized by musical continuity. 60 Marston denotes that this is especially significant when considering how Beethoven delays the reprise of the original melody. This observation lends itself to the idea that the return is somehow generated from within rather than externally imposed: ―It is as if the lover, having moved offstage at the end of the first song in order to don the costume of a Lied recitalist before returning (with a flourish on the point of that annunciatory second inversion Dominant G chord), now sheds his full disguise in full view of his audience in order to reveal that we have in fact been listening only to him all along.‖ 61

57 Hans Boettcher, Beethoven als Liederkomponist (Augsburg, 1928; repr. Walluf-Nendeln, 1974), p.


58 Marston, 129.

59 Ibid., 130.

60 Ibid., 131.

61 Ibid.


The Piano Accompaniment An die ferne Geliebte begins with a very minimal instrumental introduction. It is a neutral, purely formal gesture which, Marston says, anticipates a truer beginning of the music at the onset of the vocal melody. 62 Indeed, Marston observes that for the entirety of the first song, the accompaniment is neither melodic nor developmental; its interludes remain harmonically and melodically static. 63 However, the remaining songs exhibit a much different initial relationship between the voice and piano. In songs 2 through 5, the melody of the first poetic line is prefigured in the accompaniment in each case, and in the fifth song, the piano‘s introduction is even preceded by a twelve measure dominant pedal. In the sixth and final song, the piano prefigures an entire verse, forming its first complete independent tonal and melodic statement. Thus, Marston writes that the piano ―usurps the lyrical, melodic, utterance hitherto associated with the vocal line; it reveals in the piano a voice that is capable of singing.‖ 64 Marston elaborates further and suggests that if interpreted as a distinct and complementary singing voice, the piano can have the effect of paralyzing as in the case of the introduction to the last song and even entirely suppressing the lover‘s potential for lyrical expression as in the case of the second verse of the second song. Thus, he concludes, the incursion which was ascribed to memory must now be ascribed to the piano as a singer. 65 In measures 79-82, above the words ―weht so liese der Wind / möchte ich sein!‖ (―the breeze wafts so softly / could I only be there!‖), two full octaves lie between the incursive voice in the piano and the singer‘s monotone g 1 , making this the furthest point of separation between the two voices during the verse. 66 Marston also calls attention to the pianissimo dynamic which aurally demonstrates the concept of distance between the two voices, which have become harder

62 Ibid., 132.

63 Ibid.

64 Ibid.

65 Ibid., 133.

66 Ibid., 134.


to hear. Eventually, it is the voice in the piano, not that of the lover, which carries the music forward. 67

that of the lover, which carries the music forward. 6 7 Figure 5: Measures 77-82, two

Figure 5: Measures 77-82, two octaves‘ distance between the voice and the piano.

The transition from the fourth song to the fifth song brings back the incursive voice in the piano along with its associated g 2 , and not only g 2 but also the introductory phrase of the vocal melody with its 5-4-3 (g 2 -f 2 -e 2 ) and 3-2-1 (e 2 -d 2 -c 2 ) descents in parallel thirds and sixths in the right hand, reminiscent as Marston illustrates of a similar sonority at the climactic events of the second verse of the second song. 68

events of the second verse of the second song. 6 8 Figure 6 : Marston‘s analysis

Figure 6: Marston‘s analysis of similar sonorities in Songs 2 and 5, from Marston, p. 134.

67 Ibid.

68 Ibid.


Subsequently, in the fifth song, the lover‘s vocal range is itself expanded to g 2 although the pitch acts primarily as a starting point for immediate descent and not as a melodic goal. The next time the lover will sing a g 2 will be in the final vocal phrase of the work (―was ein liebend Herz geweiht‖) where it will finally function as a melodic goal. 69

The Chromaticized 5-4-3 Descent The chromaticized 5-4-3 descent is the only one of the source motives built into the first song to be left unaltered in the coda following the reprise. It is repeated three times consecutively in the transition from the da capo to the coda and four more times in the coda. 70

da capo to the coda and four more times in the coda. 7 0 Figure 7:

Figure 7: Measures 303-312, containing three occurrences of the chromaticized 5-4-3 descent.

Initiated by the piano in the lover‘s register in measure 305, it becomes a source of dialogue between the soprano-like voice in the piano and the tenor voice of the lover. The piano then doubles the voice in measures 307-309, doubles at the octave above in measures 309-311, and

69 Ibid.

70 Ibid.


then conjoins both registers in measures 323-27 ―in answer to the lover‘s reiteration of this mantra-like phrase.‖ 71

lover‘s reiteration of this mantra- like phrase.‖ 7 1 Figure 8: Measures 321-342, containing four occurrences

Figure 8: Measures 321-342, containing four occurrences of the chromaticized 5-4-3 descent.

71 Ibid., 135.


Its final appearance is in measures 337-39, from which the melodic line descends two and a half

octaves from the initiating Bb 2 . The descent is immediately followed by a return to Bb 2 where a

final, rhythmically condensed version of the lover‘s first line of text is gestured by the initial

rising fourth and the falling sixth which brings back g 2 as the final upper-voice pitch. 72

At the conclusion of the cycle, Kerman observes how the cadenza reverberates with

thirds hinging on G. After the voice ends with the échappée figure, the piano recapitulates the

chromatic motif from Bb to G one last time before ending with a final recollection of the original

melody and the descending sixth of Eb to G. 73 Kerman asserts that the final cadences in both the

piano and in the voice lend special significance to the note G. The voice does this, he says, by

means of the échappée figure G-F-G-Eb and the piano by means of the recollection of ―Auf dem

Hügel‖ (Bb-C-D-Eb-Eb-G). The last treble note heard at the conclusion of the entire work is G. 74

Marston understands this development in the piano and its final involvement as a

necessary element of the cycle‘s interpretation. He writes: ―Following its almost complete

suppression as an individual musical component at the very outset, the piano emerges as a

competitor for lyrical utterance in the middle verse of ‗Wo die Berge so blau‘‖ 75 At the

beginning of ―Nimm sie hin,‖ the sixth and final song of the cycle, Marston says that the piano

finally succeeds in suppressing the lover‘s voice. And in the last two measures of the cycle,

[w]hile the lover‘s g 2 yields downward to Eb 2 , the piano Bb 2 drives triumphantly upward to Eb 3

before asserting its signature g 2 at the close. It is that voice that has the last word.‖ 76

Kerman provides a most excellent recapitulation of the piano‘s involvement which serves

to highlight the developing role of the piano as another voice throughout the cycle:

In song no. 1, all that the piano provides is accompaniment, an introductory chord to give the singer his note, and small self-effacing interludes between the stanzas. In the next three numbers the piano also plays two bars of the vocal melody before the voice

72 Ibid.

73 Kerman, 195.

74 Ibid., 188.

75 Marston, 136.

76 Ibid.


sings it. A twelve-bar piano passage of nature illustration begins no. 5 bolstered at the last minute, as we have just seen, by a two-bar forecast of the melody as in the earlier songs. In no. 6 the piano plays the entire tune before the voice enters, and, what is more, plays it in a somewhat different and emphatic version. During the middle, through composed stanza of this stanza, it is really the piano that guides the voice swept along by the piano, which behaves like the orchestra in a miniature cantata or opera finale.‖ 77

The Sixth Song

A more in-depth exploration of the final song of the cycle is indispensible to the work as

a whole. As Marston points out, the last song of the cycle is the only one which is through-

composed. All the others follow a strophic model. 78 The last song is therefore the only song for

which Beethoven casts off the folk music ideal which had influenced all the other melodies, also

helping to explain why it is so much longer. Reynolds also hints at the significance of the last

song when he says, ―The synthesis of motives in the final song culminates the extraordinary

synthesis of music and text that guided Beethoven throughout the entire cycle.‖ 79 Thus, all the

trappings of art that were once hidden are now proudly being brought to light.

Kerman denotes how Beethoven chooses to start the cycle‘s final song on its dominant.

He expounds further on his observation:

―By beginning song no. 6 on the subdominant, Beethoven was doing a number of rather elegant things. He was making possible a common-tone link between songs nos. 5 and 6; he was referring for the last time to the key of nos. 3 and 4 and to the large-scale semitone pattern G-Ab-G enclosing them; and he was placing the dominant, which is finally to emerge, in maximum – though, at the same time, very delicate relief.‖ 80

Kerman also observes how the second stanza of the sixth song is the only through-

composed stanza in the cycle. One reason for this could easily be the text, the idea of temporal

distance suggested by so rich a description of evening imagery. 81

The third stanza of the sixth song, according to Kerman‘s analysis, stands apart from the

other three stanzas as uniquely uninspired by the original melody in song no. 1. It sets the text

77 Kerman, 201.

78 Marston, 137.

79 Reynolds, 55.

80 Kerman, 194.

81 Ibid.


―Ohne Kun[st]geprӓ ng erklungen‖ (Sounding without the adornments of art) on eight notes:

F-F-F-F-F-G-G-F, giving the text a musical expression of something almost pre-artistic. 82

a musical expression of something almost pre-artistic. 8 2 Figure 9: Measures 285-289, emphasizing the collapse

Figure 9: Measures 285-289, emphasizing the collapse of melodic material.

Marston asserts that the second and third verses can be understood as syntactically continuous because of the initial word ―Wenn‖ at the beginning of the 2 nd verse which remains unresolved until the very beginning of the final verse with the word ―Denn‖ where the melody of the first song sets in. 83 Despite this syntactical continuity, the third verse entirely recapitulates the music of the first verse. For Marston, this musical return powerfully disrupts the verbal sense and disassociates the text from its syntactical source. What is expressed in the poem as a future event becomes musically expressed as something already belonging to the past. 84 Thus, as Rosen says, the sense of ―Und du singst, was ich gesungen‖ is not so much ―And [at such time as] you [may/will] sing what I have sung‖ as ―And you sing/are singing what I have [just] sung.‖ 85 For the duration of the entire second verse, Beethoven has marked a slow ritardando which gradually reduces the tempo from the andante con moto to a single measure of molto adagio in measure 283. At the conclusion of this measure, he has marked an immediate return to the original melody and tempo of the first verse. Thus, as Marston observes, the molto adagio functions like a giant punctuation mark. 86

82 Ibid.

83 Marston, 137.

84 Ibid.

85 Rosen, 172.

86 Marston, 138.


22 Figure 10: Measures 273-284, the ritardando culminating in a single measure of Molto Adagio. Concerning

Figure 10: Measures 273-284, the ritardando culminating in a single measure of Molto Adagio.

Concerning measure 283, the one measure of Molto Adagio, there is much to be said not only in the context of the final song, but most especially as a moment in the cycle at large. Reynolds writes, ―This molto adagio is the emotional climax, the moment of most intense expression – the precise instant when past becomes indistinguishable from present. …It is not simply the presence of the beloved but songs of regret and longing which are remembered and become present, and these songs are themselves already the expression of memories.‖ 87 This is a powerful description of an equally moving moment, if it is performed well. However, even the

87 Reynolds, 72.


more phenomenological rendering underestimates the significance of this measure if a more

serious study is not considered. This is where Kerman provides a most critical analysis:

―The hollow, molto adagio Bb evokes the slowly reiterated B-flats of ―Auf dem Hü(gel)‖; then the solemn two-part counterpoint in octaves picks out the chords of Eb, G major, Ab, even Ab minor, as well as the semitone G-Ab which had joined (or, rather, disjoined) the earlier songs. This bar seems to hold the entire tonal dynamic of the composition in a nutshell. It also stresses the key words ‗und du singst,‘ words which record the psychological turning point of the poem, and it associates tune no. 6 more closely than ever with tune no. 188

Marston, with even further attention, observes how the saturation of semi-tone steps

here G-Ab, B-C, and most importantly Bb-B points back to the Eb-D and Bb-B moves

throughout which the annunciatory second inversion prefacing ―Wo die Berge so blau‖ was

achieved.‖ 89 Thus, Marston concludes that measure 283 should also be understood as another

site of Abbate‘s ―hyperbolic musical disjunction.‖ As such, it marks the return of the lover‘s

natural voice, heard for the first time since the close of the first song when he donned the

artificial persona of a Lied singer. He is impelled to stop singing because he becomes aware of

his beloved‘s singing voice the voice closely associated with g 2 . Although there is no g 2 in or

around measure 283, Marston concludes, like Kerman, that the musical gestures alone are

enough to indicate the lover‘s ultimate realization of the Beloved‘s voice, a voice which he has

been hearing in the piano since he began. Now, ―She is singing; he is listening.‖ 90

Because of this realization in measure 283, the rest of the cycle can be experienced in a

radically different way, more than making up for the aforementioned temporal and spatial

distance. Marston elaborates: ―We may more readily hear an exchange of voices more

characteristic of the operatic duet; indeed, everything from the final verse of ―Nimm sie hin‖ to

the end of the work may be construed as a final staged performance, an epilogal ―phenomenal‖

song performed in front of the curtain, so to speak, by the lovers in concert.‖ 91

88 Kerman, 147-148

89 Marston, 138-9.

90 Ibid., 140.

91 Ibid.


Kerman notes that while the ―expressive climax‖ 92 of the song cycle takes place in the

through-composed stanza and the following measure, the subsequent discharge of tension a full

resolution of the dominant is delayed for a considerable duration of time. Only after the fourth

stanza, at the end of the vocal da capo is the tension finally released and resolution ultimately

accomplished. 93 Reynolds points out that in terms of the text, a true union can only be brought

about once the beloved has sung the lover‘s songs back to him. Thus, he concludes that the da

capo which begins at the start of the next verse makes that union possible. However, he cautions

against mistaking the da capo for the union itself. Instead, Reynolds witnesses the union as

something accomplished in the coda, fueled by the energy and excitement of the da capo. 94

There is a kind of overall musical crescendo which happens in the da capo which seems to beg

for a sexual analogy. Everything, from its length to its tessitura, seems to swell. Barbara

Turchin remarks:

―Beethoven‘s intention is to reinterpret, poetically and musically, the opening song. …The final stanza thus expands to a length which is equivalent to that of the previous songs. Moreover, the increasingly condensed presentation of melodic ideas within the stanza creates a powerful, musical crescendo. In this manner, Beethoven simultaneously effects a climactic recapitulation and developmental coda of great force and sublimity.‖ 95

Perhaps there is no surer union of lovers than in the act of making love, and Beethoven

ingeniously suggests such a union by an elaborate means of art.

Achieving Unity

To make any further sense of Beethoven‘s purposes in musically portraying the sexual

union of two lovers separated by both time and space, it is important to recall his Romantic

context. Jean Paul, another Romantic philosopher writes that ―the Romantic is beauty without

limit, or beautiful infinity, just as there is sublime infinity. …It is more than an analogy to call

92 Kerman, 195.

93 Ibid.

94 Reynolds, 52.

95 Barbara Turchin, "Robert Schumann's Song Cycles in the Context of the Early Nineteenth-Century 'Liederkreis'" (Ph.D. diss., Columbia Univ., 1981), p. 57-58.


the Romantic the undulating hum of a vibrating string or bell, whose sound waves fade away into ever greater distances and finally are lost in ourselves, and which, although outwardly silent, still sound within.‖ 96 Marston reacts to this quotation by observing how truly paradoxical Beethoven‘s cycle is by this standard: for that ―note‖ of which Jean Paul speaks is one which sounds ever closer and closer as the work proceeds; ―Far from ―fad[ing] away into ever greater distances,‖ it becomes increasingly more prominent and palpable.‖ 97 Marston continues, ―…As Hoeckner explains, what is at issue here is ‗a suspension of the boundary between the phenomenal and noumenal worlds‘ and equally the obliteration of ‗the difference between metaphor and event, or between the figurative and the real.‘‖ 98 Hoeckner says that the natural outcome of suspending boundaries between the phenomenal and noumenal worlds in the way which Beethoven has done is the failure to distinguish between event and metaphor, what is real and what is figurative. The sound of the lover‘s voice therefore becomes both an image and an instance of the lover‘s presence. 99 Marston comes full circle when he observes that An die ferne Geliebte blends not only the threefold temporal categories of past, present, and future, but also blends physical absence and presence. 100 He finds it extremely significant that Beethoven‘s cycle does not simply fit the mold of Romanticism. He concludes: just as Beethoven reconfigures the quintessentially Romantic dying sound as its opposite, so too in An die ferne Geliebte does he offer Paradise Regained, and crucially, I suggest in terms that we are invited to accept as real rather than imaginary.‖ 101 Raymond Knapp says that this act of aligning fantasy and reality by means of song stems from Beethoven‘s own ―characteristic manner of projecting musical reality in which the

96 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, in Sӓ mtliche, ser. 1, vol. 11 (Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1935), 77; translation (modified) from Margaret R. Hale, trans., Horn of Oberon: Jean Paul Richter’s School of Aesthetics (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1973), 61.

97 Marston, 142

98 Ibid., 143.

99 Hoeckner, 61.

100 Marston, 143.

101 Ibid., 143-144.


insurmountable obstacles that derailed his actual life-quests are overcome.‖ 102 This is why Marston concludes that there is a ―biographical correlative in the composer who would seize fate by the throat; who would hold fast to the transforming power of the individual will in face of the vicissitudes of life; who would disallow the possibility that things might not be so with the imperative ―es mus sein.‖ 103 Therefore, in the interpretation of Beethoven‘s An die ferne Geliebte, a faithful student discovers Beethoven‘s skill as an artist, the pain of his human experience, but also the determination with which he sought to transcend reality itself. Beethoven‘s cycle takes the Romantic principles of distance and yearning, and turns them on their head. No longer is the sound of the lover‘s voice hopelessly introspective; it is boldly proactive. Through the exchange of song, the impossible is made present in both time and in space: it establishes union at a distance through the use of song.

102 Knapp, 51.

103 Marston, 144.


Beethoven, L. An Die Ferne Geliebte (to the Distant Beloved), Op. 98: High Voice (German, English Language Edition). Alfred Publishing Co., Inc., 1985.

Hoeckner, Berthold. ―Schumann and Romantic Distance.‖ Journal of the American Musicological Society 50, no. 1 (1997): 55-132.

Kerman, J. ―An die ferne Geliebte.‖ In Write All These Down: Essays on Music. University of California Press, 1998.

Kinderman, W. ―The Hammerklavier Sonata: 1816-1818.‖ In Beethoven. University of California Press, 1995.

Knapp, Raymond. ―Reading Gender in Late Beethoven: An Die Freude and an Die Ferne Geliebte.‖ Musicologica 75, no. 1 (2003): 45-63.

Kramer, R. Distant Cycles: Schubert and the Conceiving of Song. University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Lockwood, L. Beethoven: The Music and the Life. Norton, 2005.

Marston, Nicholas. ―Voicing Beethoven‘s Distant Beloved.‖ In Burnham, SG, and MP Steinberg. Beethoven and His World. Princeton University Press, 2000.

Reynolds, Christopher. "The Representational Impulse in Late Beethoven, I: An Die Ferne Geliebte." Acta Musicologica 60, no. 1 (1988): 43-61.

Sisman, Elaine. ―Memory and Invention at the Threshold of Beethoven‘s Late Style.‖ In Burnham, SG, and MP Steinberg. Beethoven and His World. Princeton University Press, 2000.




1. Auf dem Hügel sitz ich spähend

In das blaue Nebelland, Nach den fernen Triften sehend, Wo ich dich, Geliebte, fand.

Weit bin ich von dir geschieden, Trennend liegen Berg und Tal Zwischen uns und unserm Frieden, Unserm Glück und unsrer Qual.

Ach, den Blick kannst du nicht sehen, Der zu dir so glühend eilt, Und die Seufzer, sie verwehen In dem Raume, der uns teilt

Will denn nichts mehr zu dir dringen, Nichts der Liebe Bote sein? Singen will ich, Lieder singen, Die dir klagen meine Pein!

Denn vor Liebesklang entweichet Jeder Raum und jede Zeit, Und ein liebend Herz erreichet Was ein liebend Herz geweiht!

2. Wo die Berge so blau

Aus dem nebligen Grau Schauen herein, Wo die Sonne verglüht, Wo die Wolke umzieht, Möchte ich sein!

Dort im ruhigen Tal Schweigen Schmerzen und Qual Wo im Gestein Still die Primel dort sinnt, Weht so leise der Wind, Möchte ich sein!

Hin zum sinnigen Wald Drängt mich Liebesgewalt, Innere Pein Ach, mich zögs nicht von hier, Könnt ich, Traute, bei dir

I sit on the hillside, peering out into the blue land of mists, toward the distant meadows where, beloved, I found you.

Far from you am I parted, mountain and valley stand between us and our contentment, our happiness and our pam.

Ah, you cannot sec the look that hastens so warmly toward you and the sighsthey arc blown away in the space that separates us.

Will nothing, then, reach you now, nothing be a messenger of love? I will sing, sing songs of lamenting that tell you my distress!

For at the sound of songs all time and space recede. And a loving heart will attain what a loving heart has blessed!

Where the mountains so blue look in through the misty grey, where the sunshine dims, where the clouds gathercould I only be there!

Down in the peaceful valley sorrow and anguish are stilled; where among the stones the silent primrose broods, the breeze wafts so softlycould I only be there!

Away to the mindful wood I am driven by love‘s force. By inner pain. Ah. I would not be drawn from here could I only be, dearest,


Ewiglich sein!

3. Leichte Segler in den Höhen,

Und du, Bächlein klein und schmal, Könnt mein Liebchen ihr erspähen,

Grüßt sie mir viel tausendmal.

Seht ihr, Wolken, sie dann gehen Sinnend in dem stillen Tal, Laßt mein Bild vor ihr entstehen In dem luftgen Himmelssaal.

Wird sie an den Büschen stehen Die nun herbstlich falb und kahl. Klagt ihr, wie mir ist geschehen, Klagt ihr, Vöglein, meine Qual.

Stille Weste, bringt im Wehen Hin zu meiner Herzenswahl Meine Seufzer, die vergehen Wie der Sonne letzter Strahl.

Flüstrihr zu mein Liebesflehen, Laß sie, Bächlein klein und schmal, Treu in deinen Wogen sehen Meine Tränen ohne Zahl!

4. Diese Wolken in den Höhen,

Dieser Vöglein muntrer Zug, Werden dich, o Huldin, sehen. Nehmt mich mit im leichten Flug!

Diese Weste werden spielen Scherzend dir um Wangund Brust, In den seidnen Locken wühlen. Teilt ich mit euch diese Lust!

Hin zu dir von jenen Hügeln Emsig dieses Bächlein eilt. Wird ihr Bild sich in dir spiegeln, Fließ zurück dann unverweilt!

5. Es kehret der Maien, es blühet die

Au, Die Lüfte, sie wehen so milde, so lau,

Geschwätzig die Bäche nun rinnen.

with you for all time!

Light-scudding clouds on high, and you, little winding brook, if you can spy my love greet her for me a thousand times!

If then you sec her, clouds, walking lost in thought, in the quiet valley. Make my likeness appear to her in the lofty hail of heaven.

Should she stand by the bushesautumn-yellow now, arid baretell her, lamenting!, how I am, tell her, little birds, of my anguish.

Quiet westwinds, gently blow to my sweetheart these sighs of mine, which fade like the sun‘s last rays.

Whisper to her my entreaties, little winding brook, and let her clearly see in your ripples my numberless tears.

These clouds on high, this gay flock of little birds will sec you, fair goddess:

Take me along on your gentle flight!

These westwinds will play and jostle you on cheek and breast, ruffling your silken curls:

Let me share that joy with you!

Hurrying to you from those hills comes this busy little brook:

if her image is mirrored in you, Flow back to me forthwith!

May returns, the meadow blooms, the breezes blow so gentle and mild, the brooks run chattering. The swallow who returns to the friendly


Die Schwalbe, die kehret zum wirtlichen Dach, Sie baut sich so emsig ihr bräutlich Gemach, Die Liebe soll wohnen da drinnen.

Sie bringt sich geschäftig von kreuz und von quer Manch weicheres Stück zu dem Brautbett hieher, Manch wärmendes Stück für die Kleinen Nun wohnen die Gatten beisammen so treu, Was Winter geschieden, verband nun der Mai, Was liebet, das weiß er zu einen.

Es kehret der Maien, es blühet die Au. Die Lüfte, sie wehen so milde, so lau. Nur ich kann nicht ziehen von hinnen. Wenn alles, was liebet, der Frühling vereint, Nur unserer Liebe kein Frühling erscheint, Und Tränen sind all ihr Gewinnen.

6. Nimm sie hin denn, diese Lieder,

Die ich dir, Geliebte, sang, Singe die dann abends wieder

Zu der Laute süßem Klang.

Wenn das Dämmrungsrot dann zieht Nach dem stillen blauen See, Und sein letzter Strahl verglühet Hinter jener Bergeshöh;

Und du singst, was ich gesungen, Was mir aus der vollen Brust Ohne Kunstgepräng erklungen, Nur der Sehnsucht sich bewußt:

Dann vor diesen Liedern weichet Was geschieden uns so weit, Und ein liebend Herz erreichet Was ein liebend Herz geweiht.

roof so busily builds herself her bridal chamber; love will dwell within it.

From here and there she nimbly brings herself many soft bits for the bridal bed, many warm bits for the little ones. Now the pair live faithfully together; what winter parted, May now conjoins:

he can unite all who love.

May returns, the meadow blooms, the breezes blow so gentle and mildI alone cannot stir from this place. When spring is uniting all those who love, for our love alone no spring comes about, and tears are its only earnings.

Accept them, then, these songs that I sang for you, beloved; sing them again at twilight to the lute‘s sweet sound.

When evening‘s red glow is drawn toward the still blue of the lake, and its last beam fades behind the mountain peak,

And you sing what I sang, from a full heart sounding without the adornments of art, conscious only of love‘s longing:

Then, thanks to these songs, what so far parts us will recede, and a loving heart will attain what a loving heart has blessed!