Brahms's Non-Strophic Settings of Stanzaic Poetry
Abstract

There are only a handful of solo songs in which Brahms composed a setting that is not congruent with the poem's stanzaic structure. This article explores textual motivations for the non-strophic design of twelve songs, tracing the correlation of musical designs with such factors as the grammatical mood of the poem's verbs (indicative, imperative, subjunctive, realis/irrealis), changes in the persona's attention (digressions or interruptions in a train of thought, a shift of focus between inner and outer worlds), alternation between the lyric present and the persona's past or future experience, as well as changes in semantic focus (imagery, topic), discourse function (dialogue, quotation, requests and commands, descriptions and wishes), and narrative (characters, scenes, agency).


pdf