Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ties That Bind: An Argument for Cyclicity in the Heine Settings of Schwanengesang


This paper will explore the idea that Franz Schubert has developed a specific, characteristic style common to the Heinrich Heine settings of Schwanengesang. Through a discussion of certain musical devices such as echoing/motivic repetition (which at times will encompass the juxtaposition of similar and contrasting musical elements), musical statements that are repeated over and over in one voice and then “handed off” to a different voice or abandoned altogether, textural variation and the use of introductions and postludes, I will provide evidence that these songs could be considered a separate cycle of their own, akin to Schubert's other songs cycles Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise. Obviously some of these techniques appear in other Schubert songs (he wrote over 600 songs after all), but I will argue that they occur often enough here to suggest that the Heine songs constitute a self-contained cycle of their own.

The posthumous grouping of the Schwanengesang songs after Schubert's death is the main stumbling block in determining whether or not the work should be considered a genuine song cycle (Schwanengesang was originally published by Tobias Haslinger in the same year as Schubert's death, 1828, and it was Haslinger himself who chose to title the work Schwanengesang). The problem is that we cannot know if the grouping of these songs is more a reflection of Schubert's intentions or Haslinger's. What we do know is that Schubert wrote to the Leipzig publisher Probst mentioning the Heine songs were among his works that were available for publication. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that the two groups (Heine and Rellstab) originated at different times and that Schubert’s intention was to publish them separately. It is likely that some of the Rellstab songs were written in 1827, and Schubert's acquaintance with the Heine poems could easily have began as late as 2 October 1828.

On first glance, the Heine songs do bear some of the hallmarks of a song cycle, as well as several similarities with Schubert's other cycles, namely Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise. First, the poetry is all from a single author, just as the poetry of Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise is all by Wilhelm Müller. Second, the Heine songs are bound by a single poetic theme - one that is similar in Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise - the idea that the narrator is perpetually drawn back to the place of his most devastating loss (the loss of his beloved).

Winterreise is a tale of boy loves girl, boy loses girl, after which he is subsequently drawn into the depths of sadness. This sadness is so great that he is forever scarred by the agony of lost love. The two elements of single authorship and a continuous storyline support classifying Winterreise as a song cycle, but it is often forgotten that Winterreise was published in two parts: part one in January of 1828, and part two nearly a year later in December, after Schubert's death. The question then becomes: why is the posthumous publication of Schwanengesang a deterrent in classifying it as a cycle? Both Schwanengesang and part two of Winterreise were published after Schubert's death so it is curious that there has been no attempt to refute the cyclicity of the latter, whereas the cyclicity of Schwanengesang has been commonly scrutinized. It is my position that if the cyclicity of Winterreise is not affected by its time of publication then neither should that of Schwanengesang.

The subject matter of Die schöne Müllerin is strikingly similar to that of Winterreise and Schwanengesang, and unrequited love (in the case of Die schöne Müllerin, a sense of immense frustration in relation to love, leading to suicide) is a central theme. Die schöne Müllerin tells the tale of a young miller as he wanders along a stream in search of work; he meets a mill-girl and falls in love with her, then loses her to another, and in deep despair drowns himself in a millstream.

As we will see later, according to current scholarship on the topic, subject matter and single authorship are important in determining what is, or is not, a song cycle. This paper will dig deeper than that however and reveal elements in the music of Schwanengesang itself that suggest a song cycle. The subject matter of the poetry is important, and the musical characteristics I will describe and explore should be thought of as a means of conveying this common poetic thread.

The above characteristics (single authorship and similar subject matter) that connect the Heine settings to Schubert's other cycles are the most obvious, and are mentioned simply to provide a foundation for the argument to come. Additionally, the fact that Schwanengesang was published after Schubert's death (just as a portion of Winterreise was) should not be considered when determining whether or not it is a cycle. Though the time of publication might seem to provide an argument against cyclicity, the musical characteristics that bind the Heine songs of Schwanengesang provide a more compelling argument for cyclicity. In providing further evidence of coherence in these songs the remainder of this paper will proceed as follows: 1) Richard Kramer's ideas of the cyclic nature of the Heine settings of Schwanengesang, 2) the musical devices I find of interest that are used in these songs, 3) Patrick McCreless's and Arthur Komar's ideas of what constitutes a song cycle, and 4) my detailed analyses of the songs themselves. The analyses section will contain references to specific measure numbers, so it is recommended that readers have the scores for the Heine settings of Schwanengesang close at hand.

Richard Kramer on the Heine Songs of Schwanengesang

The most important recent scholar to consider the cyclic nature of the Heine songs of Schwanengesang is Richard Kramer. In his famous essay published in 1985, “Schubert's Heine”(which was revised, expanded and then republished as part of his book Distant Cycles in 1994), Kramer entertains the notion that if the songs are arranged in the original order in which they are found in Heine's Die Heimkehr (The Homecoming) - “Das Fischermädchen,” “Am Meer,” “Die Stadt,” “Der Doppelgänger,” “Ihr Bild,” and “Der Atlas,” - a logical poetic and musical narrative emerges. By a logical poetic narrative Kramer simply means that placing the songs in their original order creates a more coherent storyline, where the text of each poem leads into the next in a more cogent way. These narratives, in Kramer's view, redefine the collection as a single coherent work. He then goes on to describe several musical elements that reinforce the idea of a reordering of the songs.

Kramer points out that a reordering of the Heine settings reveals a coherent underlying tonal scheme. A case in point: “the opening sonority of 'Am Meer' embodies a complicity of function, for it must be understood to convey the passage of time and action between the scenes of 'Das Fischermädchen' and 'Am Meer': the sense of separation in 'Das Fischermädchen' and the togetherness, at least for a fleeting moment, already past, in 'Am Meer'.” I find this to be an intriguing idea. The problem with it, however, lies in the fact that the same phenomenon occurs at the end of “Am Meer” and just before the beginning of “Die Stadt” (using Kramer's ordering). The exact same sonority (augmented-sixth) that opens “Am Meer” also closes it. If this chord is intended to represent the passage of time between “Das Fischermädchen” and “Am Meer,” as Kramer would have it, what is the explanation of the final augmented-sixth at the end of the song? Should this not also represent the passage of time between “Am Meer” and “Die Stadt”? Similarly, what conclusions can be drawn regarding the opening and ending of “Die Stadt”? The harmonic and rhythmic ambiguity here is certainly in the same league as the augmented-sixth “bookends” of “Am Meer.” Do the introduction and postlude of “Die Stadt” then represent the passage of time between “Am Meer” and “Die Stadt,” and “Die Stadt” and “Der Doppelgänger”? Finally, how does the opening of “Ihr Bild,” with its bare octaves and unrecognizable meter, relate to the song that precedes it? These objections aside, Kramer shows convincingly that the songs are connected through the use of ambiguous harmony and meter.

Metric ambiguity is a common musical device used in the Heine settings of Schwanengesang and a very powerful example is present in “Die Stadt.” The 32nd-note tremolo of the left hand piano accompaniment is in constant juxtaposition with the F-sharp diminished seventh triplet figure in the right hand. These two note values compete for dominance and it is not until the arrival of “Der Doppelgänger” that the listener (or more likely the analyst) learns of the outcome of this competition. Richard Kramer, in reference to the third strophe of “Die Stadt,”states, “When the sun illuminates the town, to the poisoned lover it illuminates his barren inner world. The stability of the town is false, just as the C minor associated with it is rendered unstable by the prolonged diminished-seventh the implied resolutions of which are not answered in the song itself, and could not be answered logically without some playing out of C major.” This is a good point, although I do not believe that C major is the only harmony that can satisfactorily conclude the song. Kramer himself asserts that the harmonic ambiguity of “Die Stadt” is finally resolved in “Der Doppelgänger,” when the final C in the last bar serves as an appoggiatura to the opening B of “Der Doppelgänger.”

Kramer further relates “Die Stadt” and “Der Doppelgänger” by pointing out that “the opening fifth might be construed as a skeleton of the principal harmony toward which the diminished-seventh in 'Die Stadt' tends. That the low Cs at the end of 'Die Stadt' (and, by extension, the song itself) are to be understood as an appoggiatura to the Bs of 'Der Doppelgänger'.” I find this to be a fascinating idea, and one that requires further attention. It is certainly the case that the C pedal, juxtaposed with the F-sharp diminished seventh that pervades this song, is never truly resolved in a satisfying way. There is no leading tone motion of F-sharp to G that may be expected and there is little evidence that the F-sharp is functioning in any way at all. The same can be said of the C pedal in most points in the song except for the first phrase where the C does move around to different chord tones. All of the other areas in the song regarding the bass line of the piano accompaniment adhere strictly to an octave C tremolo (as in mm. 1-6), or if the bass note does change (as in mm. 28-34) it moves strictly in parallel octaves. Therefore, it is intriguing (Kramer is certainly on to something here) that the C in the last measure of “Die Stadt” finally “resolves” to the opening B of “Der Doppelgänger,” and the agitated F-sharp, in a similar way, becomes the dominant of this new key. Another very important point that Kramer makes is that all of the Heine settings of Schwanengesang are related to each other by a consistent motion of scale-degree 6 to scale degree 5, both on a macro and micro level. A Schenkerian graph found in “Schubert's Heine” illustrates this concept.

The majority of Kramer's claims about the cyclic coherence of the Heine songs are dependent on a reordering of the songs into the original order in which they appear in Die Heimkehr. I contend, however, that the Heine songs of Schwanengesang are unified by a number of other musical devices, which do not necessarily have anything to do with how the songs are ordered. These devices neither support nor contradict Kramer's ordering: they function irrespective of ordering. Where Kramer is primarily interested in the connections between the songs (how one leads into another), I will explore evidence of commonalities among the body of the songs, cross-referencing several of their musical attributes. I will also contribute more in regard to how the music emphasizes the text, a topic Kramer does not explore in depth. My paper will also diverge from Kramer's in that I will be addressing more abstract musical elements such as recurring echo motives and thematic repetition and how they encapsulate the spirit of the entire cycle. The following gives a very brief overview of these elements, with some examples I find to be of most importance. It is meant to be just that, a general description of some of the elements I am presenting. Detailed analyses of the songs themselves will be reserved for the sections which pertain to each song individually.

Musical Devices

One characteristic that is prevalent throughout the Heine settings is a recurring echo/repetitive motive. This echo is present in several forms including, but not limited to, the disjunct rhythm and tonality that opens and pervades “Die Stadt.” There is no literal echo in this case, but the juxtaposition of dueling keys and rhythmic values creates a sense of perpetual repetition. Using repetition in this way is akin to an echo; just as a voice can bounce off the face of a canyon and travel back to its origin, the rising and falling of these juxtaposed right and left-hand piano parts, in conjunction with the simple idea that the motive is always repeating, inevitably results in an abstract form of echo. Another echo motive that is perhaps even more compelling occurs in the famous introduction to “Ihr Bild.” As we shall see, much has been written about the opening of this song, which is at once simple and complex. Much will be said about these and other abstract echo motives later on, and far more straightforward examples of echo will be explored and documented.

Another common element of the Heine settings that lends further support to Kramer's claims of cyclicity is the metric and harmonic ambiguity of the introductions and postludes of these songs. These introductions and postludes are obviously connected to the echoes mentioned above: therefore at times these two characteristics will be discussed in tandem. The introduction and postlude of “Am Meer” is a perfect example; its harmonic and metric structure are vague because of embellishing chords that do not resolve as expected and the lack of a clear metric pulse. Additionally, the placement of the two opening chords immediately next to each other (just like the opening repeated octaves of “Ihr Bild”) effectively amounts to the second sounding of the chord functioning as an echo of the first.

Ambiguity of a different sort is present in “Der Doppelgänger,” yet it occurs in the same place in the song, the introduction. The omission of the third scale degree, coupled with parallel octaves in the introduction, provide little information regarding the key. Similarly, the rhythmic values of these first chords give no indication as to the meter of the song.Throughout the Heine settings of Schwanengesang there are many examples of parallelvoice-leading, particularly parallel fifths and octaves. In using this type of voice-leading Schubert is “breaking the rules” of the common-practice era. The question then becomes: why is he doing this? It is primarily used as a way of emphasizing the text. More specifically, this type of voice leading, which is so common to the Heine settings of Schwanengesang, is used to represent the actual action, or idea of parallelism. One need only consider the imagery and poetry of “Der Doppelgänger” or “Ihr Bild” to get a sense of Schubert's technique regarding this type of voice leading. As will be addressed later, the parallel motion used in “Der Doppelgänger” is a literal representation of the Doppelgänger always being at the side of the narrator (regardless of whether or not he knows it). No matter where the principle note of the accompaniment goes it itself is accompanied by either a parallel fifth or octave.

A similar phenomenon occurs in “Ihr Bild” and an example can be found in the opening vocal phrase at mm. 3-6. Just as the parallel voice-leading that occurs in “Der Doppelgänger” represents the ubiquity of the Doppelgänger, in “Ihr Bild” it is a literal representation of the narrator's loneliness. Schubert uses this technique in an ingenious way to evoke aloneness and create contrast between it and the textural change that arrives at m. 9. It is evident that Schubert is breaking the rules of the common-practice era in terms of traditional voice-leading, but it is equally evident that he is doing it for a legitimate and specific reason. Breaking the rules in this way does not diminish the power of the music; in fact it is one of the most striking and intriguing elements among the Heine songs. The above characteristic features only scratch the surface of the similarities among the Heine songs and further analysis will reveal many more.

Views on the Song Cycle

In determining what a song cycle is, one cannot neglect to mention Arthur Komar's work, “The Music of Dichterliebe: The Whole and its Parts,” from his book Schumann: Dichterliebe. The following list is Patrick McCreless's synopsis of Komar's elements that aid in helping the listener to hear an actual cycle: 1. Similarity of style, construction and subject matter of the poetry; style of the music. 2. Similarity (i.e. cross-reference) between thematic, rhythmic, harmonic or tonal configurations in different songs. 3. Thematic, harmonic, or tonal cross-references as above, but untransposed. 4. Pairing the songs so as to achieve local continuity (e.g. pairing of adjacent songs in a dominant-tonic relationship). 5. Existence of a coherent key scheme throughout the cycle. 6. The presence of a general plan that 'embraces all of the songs in the cycle in their given order'. 7. The presence of all the features of No. 6, plus the use of a single key to govern the cycle. It appears then that Komar places the most emphasis on similarities among the different songs regarding their “overall” style (which can be stretched to include similarities of the general mood among the different songs). Also, the text of the poem is not necessarily the governing force behind what is, or is not, a cycle. Komar is much more interested in the musical similarities than he is the poetry. Where numbers 4-7 on Komar's list deal with a particular ordering, my relationships do not. Therefore, my analyses will be more closely related to numbers 1-3 on Komar's list. In addition to a general similarity of style- thematic, harmonic, and rhythmic coherence will be addressed.

In the context of art song, we attribute to the word 'cycle' not only the implications of relatedness of members of a set, but also implications of order and interdependence; in a bona fide song cycle, the omission of any of the songs, or the rearrangement of their order, constitutes a threat to or negation of its cyclic character. Performers and scholars have long viewed Schumann's Eichendorff-Lieder, or Liederkreis, Op. 39, as a song cycle, but one in which the order of the songs does not in any way derive from the ordering of poems in a pre-existing literary work, as is the case, to a greater or lesser degree, in Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin and Die Winterreise, and in Schumann's own Heine Liederkreis (Op. 24), Dichterliebe (Op. 48), and Frauenliebe und-Leben (Op. 42). The twelve Eichendorff poems that Schumann sets to music in the cycle do not come from a single, self-contained source; and although they are closely knit together by a web of nature symbolism, imagery, and language, they present no single, logically necessary order.

Despite the fact that McCreless places great importance on maintaining the order of the songs, he still asserts that there are two equally credible ways to arrange them in Schumann's Liederkreis, Op. 39. His argument is based in part on the necessity, from an analytical point of view, of dividing multi-movement works into two categories which he dubs “unordered” and “ordered.” The unordered category refers simply to the musical cross-references that can be found among movements, such as repetition, motive, key and, in works with texts, specific words, symbols and ideas. In this category there is no attempt to explain why the cross-references occur. Ordered elements are “simply those of a wide variety of types, for which we can posit a sufficiently time-determinate system to show why events happen where they do.” This paper is much more concerned with McCreless's unordered category, particularly regarding repetition, motive and symbolism. Adding to McCreless's argument, I will periodically explain why these musical devices are being used.

McCreless's view that imagery, symbolism, and language (literal language such as German, or specific poetic language) are important in determining a true song cycle is extremely important. If this is indeed a deciding factor, then the Heine settings of Schwanengesang must certainly be considered a cycle. There is a common thread of imagery that runs through all of these songs, except for “Das Fischermädchen” perhaps (excluding the theme of water, “Das Fischermädchen” bears little resemblance to the other songs, particularly when considering the general mood of the text). It is not shocking that the imagery in these poems is related, being that they are all from the same author, and they are associated with each other in such a specific way that it is hard to let their relatedness pass by unnoticed. These poems have a recurring theme, one in which the narrator is perpetually taken back to moment and place of his greatest loss.

Another kind of imagery is present in the form of water. “Water songs,” which of course are songs that speak either directly or indirectly of water, were very popular in Schubert's time, and he wrote many of them. “Das Fischermädchen,” “Die Stadt,” and “Am Meer” make up the water songs of the Heine portion of Schwanengesang. “Das Fischermädchen” is a bit odd in terms of the water songs and of the cycle as a whole. It is by far the most light-hearted of the six and is devoid of the dark imagery and general gloom of the rest of the cycle. It is important to point out another element that relates “Am Meer” and “Die Stadt”: their imagery. Although achieved in different ways, the image of water is a unifying element of these two songs. The text of both songs are obviously related to each other through the topic of water or the sea and the way in which this image is portrayed is achieved through similar musical devices. I will reserve the bulk of this discussion for later in the paper but at this point say that continuity is achieved, in part, through the rhythm of the accompaniment and the juxtaposition of contrasting musical forces.

The remaining songs in the cycle are “Der Atlas,” “Ihr Bild,” and “Der Doppelgänger.” These three songs do not address the subject of water, yet they are still bound together by another type of imagery, one that is heavily dependent on elements such as musical echoes and accompanimental and/or vocal repetition. Like the above topic of water, these musical elements are highly influenced by the musical processes that occur in them.

Arthur Komar's idea that similarity of style (construction and subject matter of the poetry and style of the music) is an important factor in determining cyclicity seems fairly obvious, particularly if the poems are from a single literary source or author. At this point I will leave “Das Fischermädchen” and “Der Atlas” out of the discussion, as they are very different from the others regarding their musical characteristics. Additionally, at this point it is necessary to break up “Ihr Bild” and “Der Doppelgänger,” and “Die Stadt” and “Am Meer” into two separate categories regarding their overall similarity of style. The following discusses the songs in these groupings.

As noted above, “Ihr Bild” and “Der Doppelgänger” both feature highly ambiguous introductions. The opening bare octave B-flats of “Ihr Bild” have provided fodder for many theoretical essays and make this one of the most intriguing introductions in art song. The sense of uncertainty in these first two bars is high for two main reasons. We do not know what key we are in and we do not know what the meter is. All we do know for sure is that two octave B-flats occur in simultaneity and then echo themselves. The introduction of “Der Doppelgänger” functions in a very similar way. Once again, we cannot know the key or meter simply by listening to the opening measures. The parallel octaves of the introduction, coupled with the ever-present F-sharp, provide endless possibilities for interpretation. There are many other ways in which these songs are related, but the introductions alone are enough to relate them to one another. These relationships will be discussed in much more detail later on. Like “Ihr Bild” and “Der Doppelgänger,” “Am Meer” and “Die Stadt” are also related to one another because of their introductions.

Briefly returning to “Das Fischermädchen” and “Der Atlas,” it is clear that these two songs are quite different from the rest regarding their overall mood and compositional approach. Richard Kramer argues that in reordering the songs that “Das Fischermädchen” should come first, and “Der Atlas” last. I agree whole-heartedly with this idea if for only one reason: that the songs are so different from the rest that they serve as a bookends, or a device that frames all of the other songs which share many more common musical characteristics.

The following analyses are in the order in which they appear in Schwanengesang, with the exception of “Der Atlas and “Das Fischermädchen.” Given that these songs are the least related to the others I will delay their analyses until the end. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these songs should be considered in pairs regarding their analysis - that is, “Ihr Bild” / “Der Doppelgänger,” “Die Stadt” / “Am Meer,” and “Das Fischermädchen” / “Der Atlas.” This pairing is based on the fact that the similarities between each pair are abundant. “Ihr Bild” and “Der Doppelgänger” are related by the idea of doubleness. “Die Stadt” and “Am Meer” are related by the theme of water, and being on the water. Additionally, not only is “Die Stadt” in C minor and “Am Meer” in C major, but both of these Lieder contain highly important chromatic harmonies built on C natural. “Das Fischermädchen” and “Der Atlas” are not necessarily related in any specific way, although the difference between them and the other songs places them in a group of their own. Thinking of the songs in this way is a more effective way to see their similarities and differences.

“Ihr Bild”

When attempting to find similarities among the Heine settings of Schwanengesang, the introduction of “Ihr Bild” must be considered. In his article, “A Romantic Detail in Schubert's Schwanengesang,” Joseph Kerman quotes Heinrich Schenker concerning the opening two bars: “To repeat each note in slow tempo, and what is more to repeat it in this manner after a rest, amounts to 'staring' at it, as it were; and in doing this, we feel ourselves wonderfully transported to the side of the unhappy lover, who stands 'in dark dreams' staring at the picture of his beloved. With him, we too stare at the picture.” The idea of the listener being transported to the side of the unhappy lover through the use of bare B-flat octaves repeated and separated by silence is a compelling one. These opening two soundings of the B-flat octaves give no real indication whatsoever as to the key or the meter of the song. This is an important level of continuity among all of the Heine settings (with the exception of “Das Fischermädchen” and “Der Atlas”). “Der Doppelgänger” and “Am Meer” in particular share this type of introduction, one that consists of sustained tones or chords with ambiguous function. In the case of “Ihr Bild,” it seems that these two notes simply occur, then reoccur. Although the notes here are indeed the tonic, at this point in the song the listener has no real way of knowing that for sure. All the listener can do is wait and listen for what will happen next.

The lonesome and solitary nature of the text is expressed through the use of these two opening pitches even though the vocal line has not yet entered. Schenker does not mention the powerful foreshadowing effect of these pitches and the way in which the “staring eye” is a reflection of the text. In a general sense, these first two measures can serve as an analogy for the entire poem. The narrator is destined to end up alone and disappointed. The isolation of the two opening pitches is a direct parallel of the state of isolation the narrator will inevitably end up in. The hollow, ambiguous sound of these first two bars is evocative of, and places the listener in a world of, the dark imagery of the text (“I stood in dark dreams and stared at her portrait”16). In this way the opening two notes also serve as a way of addressing the literal act of staring “at her portrait.”

What is more, this introduction can be viewed as an echo. The first presentation of the B flat octaves is followed by a rest (of unknown duration) and then effectively echoed in the following measure. This phenomenon of an echo is something that occurs regularly throughout the Heine settings and, although Schubert uses echoes in other songs as well, their predominance in this group is certainly worth our attention. Just as the parallel motion in the melody hearkens back to that of the introduction, m. 7 hearkens back to m. 5. In fact, the rhythm and pitches of m. 7 are exactly the same as those in m. 5.

Another point of echo in this song occurs at mm. 12-14. This time the echo is a revisiting of the melody at m. 11. There is a difference between the two passages, however. The vocal melody at m. 11 features a descending motive that occurs in cells, each consisting of three notes (Eb-D-C / D-C-Bb) with the C being sounded twice. The echo in the piano, which occurs at mm. 12-14, is very similar, just as the previous example was, but not exactly the same as the origin of the echo (m. 11). The note values and pitches of the echo have been altered in m. 13 (instead of quarter, eighth, eighth quarter, eighth, eighth, it is rearranged as quarter, eighth, eighth, quarter, quarter). In doing this, the same amount of musical space is occupied but achieved through different means. Also the pitches in the highest voice of the piano, which is the element that is mimicking the previous vocal melody, have been changed to Eb-F-G-F-F. The rhythm and general contour of the line suggest that Schubert has done this intentionally. After the presentation of the introduction, the stagnation of the opening bare octave B-flats gives way to parallel motion between the piano accompaniment and the vocal line. This is a direct throwback to the parallel octaves heard in mm. 1 and 2. As a result Schubert is able to prepare the listener for the disciplined parallel octave melody. Throughout the Heine settings Schubert seems to be obsessed with parallelism, and the opening vocal phrase of “Ihr Bild” is a great example of this. The interplay between the voice and the piano is extremely static in this opening phrase, just as the introduction effectively creates an environment of aloneness (as far as Schenker is concerned) which is achieved through this parallel motion. The presentation of a single melodic line that occurs in simultaneity amongst both instruments is an ingenious way to illustrate the mental state of the narrator. He is utterly alone in the beginning of Heine's poem, staring sadly at the picture of his beloved, and the sparse nature of the music in these opening measures is a direct reference to this.

Heine is attempting to lull the reader/listener into a false sense of security beginning at the 17 second stanza. Here the “beloved countenance mysteriously came to life.” Schubert at this moment is very sensitive to the text and boldly, and instantaneously, alters the texture of the music at m. 9. The parallel motion gives way to a much thicker, chorale texture and is indicative of the portrait coming to life, which is precisely what the text tells us is happening. Parallel motion occurs in this song and at strategic points it is periodically abandoned and revisited. This technique of abandonment and revisiting is found throughout the Heine settings, lending further support to the idea that all of these songs should be considered a self-contained cycle.

A curious moment in the song occurs in mm. 23-24. This moment comes right after the fourth vocal phrase and before the fifth (mm. 23-24). The downbeat of m. 23 is an Italian augmented-sixth chord, unusually voiced with the tonic Bb in the bass. This resolves to a I (or i) in m. 24. How do we explain this seemingly out-of-place chord resolution? The obvious answer is that it is meant to bring us back to a point which is similar to the first two measures, creating yet another layer of echo. Measures 23-24 can be considered a prelude to the recapitulation of the opening A material. Just as the A section is prefaced by the doubled octave B-flats, A' is set up in a similar fashion (although mm. 23-24 could be interpreted as even more mystifying than the previous bare octaves of mm. 1-2). The resolution of the augmented-sixth to the B-flat tonic chord, which now contains an open fifth, sheds little light on where the tonality is leading next. Even if mm. 20-22 are interpreted as bIV6 - biv6 - V7 - I, the arrival of the augmented-sixth and its resolution are still not fully explained away. It is only the recapitulation of the opening melodic material that lets us know exactly where we are.

Another moment of echo that is worth mentioning is much more playful in nature and sound compared to the others discussed thus far. This echo motive is found only twice throughout the song and occurs in m. 18 and 22 (moreover these echoes occur after the text “miraculous smile” and “eyes glistened” which can be construed as a type of text painting). It is interesting for two main reasons, the first being that its rhythm is nearly identical to the rhythm of the echoes heard previously in the song, the second being that this rhythm only occurs during the echo portions of the song. Although the rhythm is essentially kept intact for all of the echoes in this song, the general mood of each one is quite different. More specifically, the echo motives in mm. 7-8, 12-14, 29-30 and 34-36 are different than those of m. 18 and 22. If the rhythm does not create different moods among the echo motives, what does? The most obvious answer is the register in which the motives occur. The “playful” echo occurs one and two octaves higher on the piano than does the other. Another interesting point is that the “playful” motive of m. 18 and 22 is half the duration of the other echo motive. This lends support to the idea that the former is a varied repetition of the latter.

Finally, the song ends with one final echo that encapsulates all of the previous echo motives heard up to this point. In mm. 34-36 a familiar chord progression and rhythm reappears. This is the same progression that was heard earlier (mm.12-13) with one “major” difference: this figure originally appeared in mm. 12-13 in major mode. In the postlude it occurs in more or less the same way except that the progression lands on a minor, not major, imperfect authentic cadence. Susan Youens characterizes the passage as follows: “you are wrong, and I am right,” it says to major mode, “it” in this case referring to the minor mode. The two modes have been fighting for superiority throughout the song and it is not until the last measure that minor finally emerges as the victor. I like this idea presented by Youens because, at the very least, it provides an explanation for the change of mode upon the arrival of the end of the song. It is impossible to know what was going through Schubert's mind when writing the final line of “Ihr Bild,” and Schubert himself likely would have never imagined that music scholars almost two hundred years later would be studying it so closely. There is one more bit of information that Youens did not mention in her work which lends support to the idea of minor mode emerging victorious: the texture change in the postlude. The postlude is another echo that occurs in the song, which has its origin in mm. 12-13. The original statement of this motive occurs strictly in a weaker sounding four-part texture. The postlude uses five and six-part texture in the piano and aurally provides a much stronger sense of finality than does the former. As we will see, these ideas of similarity in the introductions and postludes, echo motives and parallel voice-leading are common threads among the Heine settings of Schwanengesang. I now will focus my attention on the next song that appears in the set, “Die Stadt.”

“Die Stadt”

Heine's poem, “Am Fernen Horizonte,” provides the perfect landscape for impressionistic song writing and Schubert takes full advantage of its eerie imagery and beautifully descriptive word play. Every emotional and psychological aspect of the poem is expressed through the music; from the to and fro of the waves or the rocking of a boat on the water, to the fog shrouding the narrator's view, to the final grief-laden line of text, Schubert's text setting genius is on full display.

Schubert's juxtaposition of a strictly block-chord texture, that never breaks free from the tonal boundaries of C minor, and a skeletal structure clearly focused on the solitary pitch C keeps the listener in a state of anticipation. “Am Fernen Horizonte” is foreboding, gloomy and upon the arrival of the last stanza, agonizingly tortured. The first two stanzas set the tone:

Upon the far horizon Appears, as if a misty image, The town with its towers Veiled in evening twilight. A moist gust of wind ruffles The gray watery path; With sorrowful strokes; rows The sailor in my skiff.

The text here is certainly not uplifting and it has an anticipatory function. The dark text of these stanzas is hard to misinterpret. Words such as “veiled,” “moist,” “gray,” and “sorrowful” are clearly indicative of grief. Heine turns these negative connotations around in the final stanza (just as he did in “Ihr Bild”) and suddenly the text, and therefore the imagery, is turned on its head. The first half of the final stanza gives the reader a glimmer of hope. The mood and character of this line are in stark contrast to what has preceded it.
Once again the sun rises Radiantly upward from the earth
Essentially Heine is using the opposite language here from stanzas 1 and 2. Dark gloom has been replaced with the rising, radiant sun. Those who are less familiar with Heine's poetry may interpret this change of mood as the arrival of good things to come, and if the poem were to end with these lines they would be correct. However, as with many of Heine's poems, and just like “Ihr Bild,” there is a “leap from the serious, lyrical, frequently dreamlike to the ironic, sarcastic or soberly realistic.” This poem is no different and in the final line we learn that this is a tale of loss.

And shows me that place,
Where I lost my beloved.

In true Heine fashion, he paints a picture of darkness, gives a fleeting sense that everything will work out for the best, and finally at the last moment reveals that all has been lost. Just as Heine plays tricks on the reader, so does Schubert play tricks on the listener. Even in the first three measures Schubert creates a sense of simultaneity. We are solidly placed in the key of C minor (although it is not until the melody begins that this is revealed) through the use of the C pedal. This foundation is disturbed, however, with the arrival of m. 3 where C is juxtaposed with an F-sharp fully-diminished seventh chord. In this way Schubert gives the listener a clue that all is not well.

Schubert's “Die Stadt” employs an ABA' form with a piano introduction and piano postlude. Typically Schubert's piano introductions set up the key, or more importantly provide a condensed, precursory version of the motivic material to come. This is not really the case in this song (or most of the other Heine settings for that matter). As mentioned above, the introduction provides few clues as to where we are tonally. Further, the arrival of the F-sharp fully-diminished seventh chord in m. 3 compounds this ambiguity. So, why is Schubert doing this? These measures can be studied in many ways. In keeping with the above discussion of ambiguity and echoes, and how they relate to the text, I will lay out further evidence of a self-contained song cycle here.

Just as the introduction to “Ihr Bild” is hollow and ambiguous, so is the introduction to “Die Stadt,” and the ambiguity is achieved in similar ways. Like “Ihr Bild,” “Die Stadt” opens with octave doubling. An octave C tremolo of 32nd- notes is initiated in the left-hand piano accompaniment giving no indication as to the meter or tonality. This introduction hearkens back to “Ihr Bild,” specifically in that the tremolo is functioning in a similar way to “Ihr Bild's” opening B-flat octaves. Both are two measures long and both create a sense of ambiguity through meter and pitch, separated by rests. For the present moment I will consider only the rhythm and note values/durations in relation to the overall ambiguity of the introduction. The entrance of the right hand in m. 3 further blurs the meter. Schubert here has chosen to juxtapose the 32nd-notes of the left hand with an arpeggiated triplet figure in the right. This technique has a dual function; first, it creates uncertainty (key and meter) and second it is a very effective way of achieving text painting. The sweeping arpeggiation of the F-sharp fully-diminished seventh, grounded by the left-hand tremolo, creates an image of undulating waves on the ocean, and more specifically the rising and falling of the boat on the water.

There is another, more abstract level of echo in this song. Susan Youens' book Heinrich Heine and the Lied reveals a level of discipline in this song that is not so obvious. It is interesting to note that the vocal line, until the arrival of m. 28, never penetrates beyond the interval of a third in each of the two or four-measure vocal phrases/sub-phrases. This can been seen when considering phrase one in mm. 7-10 (which does not extend beyond a minor third); sub-phrase one in mm. 11-12 and sub-phrase two in mm. 13-14 (which do not extend beyond a minor third); and sub-phrase three in mm.18-19, four in mm. 20-21, five at mm. 22-23 and six at mm. 24-25 (which do not extend beyond a minor third). On first glance it may not seem as though this phenomenon is relevant in any way, but it does create strong ties to the introduction of the song. The arpeggiation found in the introduction, although spanning a much greater distance, never breaks the bounds of three octaves; in fact it always begins and ends on the same pitch class (A). Just like a literal echo, it always returns to its source. Moreover, according to Youens, Heine's narrator always inevitably returns to the source, or place, of his greatest loss throughout the set.

Now returning to the minor-third idea in the vocal line, the ever-present C tremolo and F-sharp fully-diminished seventh arpeggiation disappear from the piano accompaniment and a dotted rhythm, in parallel octaves, takes over. Simultaneously, the rigorous nature of the minor-third vocal motive gives way to a freer voice-leading style. This idea of presenting a motive and then handing it off to another entity in the music, or abandoning it altogether, is a common thread that runs throughout the majority of the Heine settings. Just as the bare octaves that introduce “Ihr Bild” give way to parallel octaves between the vocal and piano line, the minor-third vocal motive and fully-diminished seventh arpeggiation of “Die Stadt” are abandoned completely upon the arrival of m. 28.

The postlude of “Die Stadt” is a direct replaying of the introduction. The G at the downbeat of m. 34 marks the highpoint of the song, in that it is literally the highest note in the song and also the point where a dynamic of fortissimo is reached. This highpoint is followed by a dynamic drop and a steady decrescendo. Perhaps the most interesting element of this postlude is the final solitary C in the last measure. Similar to the opening of “Ihr Bild,” this ending is as simple as it could possibly be and yet seemingly endless in its poetic or symbolic implications. I will not go into the possible meanings of this ending but instead simply point out that Schubert is toying with the psychological expectations of the listener and that this sort of ambiguity is found everywhere throughout the Heine settings.

“Am Meer”

In attempting to decipher the relatedness of the Heine settings of Schwanengesang, it is absolutely necessary to make associations between the introductions of “Am Meer” and the others in the set. “Am Meer” and “Ihr Bild” are so ambiguous that one cannot determine the key (or even the mode) or meter until later in the songs. Although not separated by rests, as is the case in “Ihr Bild,” the first two measures of “Am Meer” reveal a similar complexity that is nearly identical to it. Interpreting the downbeats of mm. 1 and 2 as common-tone augmented-sixth chords, it is clear that their tendency is to resolve to C major, and they do. Opening the song in this way, that is, with the downbeat being an embellishing chord leading to the principle harmony of the song is another way in which Schubert is able to create tension and ambiguity which is then quickly resolved. Whereas, the tension of the bare open octaves that introduce “Ihr Bild,” which are subsequently answered by a release of this tension upon the arrival of the second vocal phrase, the harmonic tension present at the outset of “Am Meer” is resolved in a much more direct fashion. The resolution, which occurs in the same bar as the dissonance, implies that Schubert only intended the ambiguity to be fleeting at this moment.

Throughout the Heine settings of Schwanengesang certain musical elements present themselves toward the beginning of the song and then, as the attentive listener will notice, are restated, or in some cases, altered in a very subtle way. Hearkening back to material previously stated in a song is one of the ways in which Schubert creates a somewhat less obvious form of echo and repetition. This method is used so often that it is no surprise that it makes an appearance in “Am Meer” as well. What is more, the repetition that occurs in “Am Meer” presents itself on two separate levels, the first being a simple, altered reiteration of the introduction. The difference between the two is found in the precursory chord that leads to the tonic. The first chord of the song, as mentioned above, is a common-tone augmented-sixth chord. This analysis would imply a resolution to a cadential 6/4 chord, in this case C major over G. Schubert does not do it this way however and it is really no surprise because these chords are not functioning in the traditional sense. If there is a function it is simply to set the stage for mystery and create a common thread between the introductions in the Heine set and to set up the possibility for repetition later in the song.

This repetition is first found in mm. 10-11 and has been altered to a much more traditional cadence of V7 - I with a doubled seventh. The common-tone augmented-sixth chord of the introduction has been modified into a V7, which then progresses on to the tonic. This V7 chord is a mirror image of the previous harmony in terms of how it resolves. Where the lowest moving note in the introduction resolves down (A-flat to G), the lowest note of the reiteration resolves up (G to C). Similarly the interval of a third in the introduction is resolved up to another interval of a third in the C-major triad. In the reiteration at m. 11, the interval of a third is resolved down by step, as is more expected. In this way Schubert is able to create contrast, and at the same time continuity among the echoed motives in this song. So both of these chords encompass the same sonority, that is they sound the same, although arranged around a different “tonic.” Just as mm. 10-11 is a reiteration of the introduction, the introduction is a reiteration of material heard previously in “Ihr Bild.” Measure 23 of “Ihr Bild” (as mentioned in that section) is essentially a restatement of the introduction. The texture is obviously much thicker in m. 23 but the rhythm and overall spatial quality is kept intact. The similarities to the introduction of “Am Meer” include an unclear sense of meter and like chords “functioning” in analogous ways. “Am Meer” begins with a common-tone augmented-sixth chord leading to a C-major triad. The statement in “Ihr Bild” is also a common-tone augmented-sixth chord (Italian) which leads to a B-flat-minor (major?) triad. B-flat-minor is implied here because it leads directly into the A' section at m. 25. There is no true functionality in regard to these chords. If there is it is purely to create a sense of tension with the augmented-sixths and release with the triads.

The second level of echo, or repetition mentioned above occurs in the same place and is in the form of a vocal cadence that is followed by an echo of the same cadence in the accompaniment. As is common in the Heine settings this vocal phrase and the echo are both achieved, in part, through the use of parallel motion in the accompaniment and also between the accompaniment and the vocal line. The vocal phrase ending is answered by the piano in parallel thirds and the repetition present here is occurring primarily because Schubert, I presume, wanted to give more weight to the ends of the phrases. This does not occur at the end of every vocal phrase however, so the question becomes why? I will offer a possible answer, although it is pure speculation.

The echoes of the vocal line in the piano accompaniment are only present when the vocal cadence is approached by downward, step-wise motion. All other cadences in this song feature an interval greater than a second in the vocal line and therefore are treated differently than their counterparts. It is possible that Schubert felt the weaker step-wise cadences needed to be bolstered, or re-emphasized by this echo motive in the piano. The other cadences, which feature an octave leap down in the vocal line evidently provided enough emphasis and spatial contrast for Schubert's taste and therefore the reiteration was not necessary. This is only one example of the echo motives in this song and only one example of why they could possibly be being used. What is important to keep in mind is that these echoes occur in all of the Heine settings in one form or another and they are a very strong element of this music that ties all of the songs together.

In relating “Am Meer” to “Die Stadt” one very obvious element is present in both of these songs, and it is my assertion that this element occurs in both songs for the same reason. The reasoning is strongly related to the subject matter, or more importantly the imagery of these songs. As mentioned above these comprise two of the three water songs in the cycle. The image of a boat, floating on the water, with the unending rising and falling of the tides is captured, quite easily, by the tremolo motive in the piano accompaniment. Interestingly the tremolo motive not only occurs in both of these songs, but they also occur in similar areas. Both songs are introduced by different forms of harmonic ambiguity which serve to draw the listener in and provide the necessary intrigue to convince one to listen further. This ambiguity is soon clarified in both of these songs upon the entrance of the first vocal phrases. Here the vocal line and the piano accompaniment emphasize little more than the tonic and the dominant. For example: the first two phrases of “Am Meer” are harmonized strictly with tonic and dominant chords, filled in with passing tones when necessary. If we focus in only on the left-hand of the accompaniment this idea becomes much more clear because we see that this bass line contains no other notes than C (tonic) and G (dominant).

“Die Stadt” employs a very similar technique. It opens with the famous C tremolo/F-sharp fully-diminished seventh. This is akin to the introduction of “Am Meer,” although it spans six measures as opposed to only two. Upon the arrival of the first vocal phrase at m. 7 the ambiguity abruptly ends and the accompaniment proceeds to sit the harmony clearly in the key of C minor (the harmony also contains the occasional C-major chord however the above discussion regarding the minor-third boundaries of the vocal line bolster the argument for a C-minor tonal center). The harmony here is slightly more complex than that of “Am Meer” but the cause remains the same; create a sense of unknown key and meter in the introduction and then at the first vocal phrase, let the listener know exactly where we are in terms of key and meter. The arrival of the first vocal phrases in both of these songs serve as a type of “calm before the storm” effect because at the arrival of the next phrase in both songs the turbulent, agitated tremolo returns. This idea appears in both of these songs because of the inherent imagery of the text; that of a boat floating on the water. In both cases the tremolo motive is not present in the first vocal phrase and does not appear until the arrival of the second phrase.

“Die Stadt” is composed in ternary form with an introduction and postlude, where both the A and A' sections are devoid of the tremolo motive. Therefore, if we map this motive from beginning to end we find that it occurs in the following pattern: X-O-X-O-X, where X represents the presence of the motive and O, its absence. The form of “Am Meer” is less clear however, what is clear is the similarity to “Die Stadt” in regard to the placement of the tremolo motive. If we ignore the introduction and postlude we can see that the motive occurs in the opposite ordering as it did in the “Die Stadt.” That is to say, a mapping of this motive in “Am Meer” reveals the pattern O-X-O-X-O. This is a strong bond between these two songs and lends further support to the idea of their relatedness, and to the relatedness of the set as a whole. More on this point will be addressed in the “Der Atlas” analysis.

It can be said that simply composing “Die Stadt” in ternary form effectively amounts to an echo/repetitive design because A-B-A creates a level of symmetry with itself. This can be viewed as the macro echo motive in “Die Stadt.” It is my assertion however that the pattern of this motive in both of these songs represents what can be called the micro level of echo. Repeatedly presenting the motive and then subsequently abandoning it amounts to a consistent echoing of the tremolo in both of these songs, lending further evidence to the notion of a coherent scheme in regard to the motivic material. This O-X-O-X-O design is also important in regard to the above mentioned imagery of the poems. Presenting the motive, then taking it away over and over again, is parallel to the idea of the advancing and retreating of the water, or the rising and falling of the boat on the water.

Perhaps the most important thing to take from this discussion is the notion of stability versus chaos in relation to this tremolo motive. Parallel voice-leading in the first phrase between the vocal and middle voice of the right-hand accompaniment (C) is an effective way to create a sense of stability. What is more, this parallel voice-leading disappears upon the arrival of the tremolo motive. Stability is achieved in the opening vocal phrase in this way as is the reiteration of this phrase in mm. 24-31. The first tremolo motive at mm. 12-18 is devoid of any parallel voice leading as is its reiteration at mm. 33-39. Schubert in this way is, at the same time, creating the form, toying with the listeners expectations and creating additional points of symmetry in the song.

“Der Doppelgänger”

As mentioned above, one of the ways in which the Heine settings of Schwanengesang are related is through the use of ambiguous introductions and postludes, and the ambiguity present in “Der Doppelgänger” is at the same time subtle, yet effective. The key of this song would most likely indicate B minor but given the lack of a third in the introductory chords it is not so clear where the tonality sits (it is not until later in the song that this becomes more apparent). One clue regarding this is the ever- present F-sharp in the piano accompaniment. The constant repetition of this F-sharp points toward the implied key but there is never a real clear sense of major or minor in the introduction. Parallel octaves pervade this song and the stability, if there is any, comes in part from these repeated F-sharps in the piano accompaniment. Schubert bolsters the evidence of a B-minor (major) key center by making the F-sharp in the vocal line the most prominent pitch.

Throughout this song, nearly all of the phrases end on an F-sharp in the vocal making a strong argument for this pitch as, at the very least, a temporary dominant. The presence or absence of the F-sharp in the piano accompaniment is important to note. Its use, and then abandonment reveals that it is not simply chance dictating when they appear and presenting and eliminating a motive, or some other recurring element is a common thread that binds all of these songs together. In conjunction with the ambiguity of key (in terms of major or minor) the open texture of the introduction also provides an element of mystery to the song. Susan Youens claims that the opening texture of this song is meant to represent the loneliness of the narrator, and I agree but, the parallel motion of the introduction, coupled with the ever-present F-sharp is of more interest to me. Ambiguity in this song is achieved, in part, by the parallel motion in the piano accompaniment. So what can be said of this parallel motion and why is it occurring? It is clear that Schubert is doing this in order to convey the meaning of the text and the overall mood and imagery of the song. The word Doppelgänger in itself is highly suggestive of doubleness, so it is appropriate that Schubert chose to use parallel voice-leading in his introduction and throughout the entire song. It is my assertion that the parallel motion is a literal, musical representation of the narrator's double, just as the introduction of “Ihr Bild,” in Youens' opinion can be seen as a literal representation of the narrator's loneliness. The presence of someone other than the narrator is not known until the third phrase beginning at m. 25, and the confirmation that this presence is the narrator's double is not known until the arrival of m. 41. Measure 41 also features the highest note in the vocal line and serves as the poetic and musical highpoint of the song.

Still considering the parallel motion in the piano accompaniment, given the subject matter, we can see that it is not too far of a stretch to assume that it is the literal representation of the Doppelgänger always being at the side of the narrator. The idea of doubleness is conveyed in other ways in this song and throughout the Heine settings. Another way in which Schubert achieves a landscape of doubling is present in the succession of each two-chord cell. The accompaniment of this song can be considered as either a chaconne or a passacaglia because it features both a repetitive or recurring bass line and chord progression. Since this is a repeating chord progression we need only look at the first four measures of the song to get an idea of how each two-chord cell presents another level of doubleness. Chords three and four are an exact transposition (or depending on how it is analyzed an inversion) of chords one and two. With the exception beginning at m. 43, where the narrator is speaking directly to his double, all of the notes contained in each chord maintain their position in the staff throughout the entire song. It is as if the coupling of these chords are no longer necessary at this point because the narrator has finally met his double face to face. In this way all of the previous repetitions that have occurred are functioning as a type of foreshadowing; one that is meant to let the listener know that the Doppelgänger has been, and always will be present, regardless of whether or not the narrator is aware of it. The chaconne/passacaglia disappears at the moment the narrator is met by his double and a literary doubling takes over. This doubling is conveyed through the text. Schubert has prepared the listener to expect consistent repetition (doubling) and when these musical doublings disappear, Heine's symbolic doubling takes over.

The idea of the presence of another entity is confirmed in an interesting way beginning at m. 43. As mentioned above this is the point where the narrator is speaking directly to his double and the musical associations to this idea are many. The ostinato disappears from the piano accompaniment at the moment the Doppelgänger's presence is confirmed. That does not mean that the idea of parallelism has been abandoned however. It has simply changed form (Schubert must have seen that the Doppelgänger himself is also simply a different form of the narrator). One element of doubleness is lost in m. 43 but another is gained. The parallel voice-leading of the piano accompaniment is still intact although it is not the familiar two-chord cell we are by now used to. Now what is occurring in the accompaniment is a steady, chromatic and parallel ascent that leads to the highpoint of the musical line at m. 52. Just as occurred in “Die Stadt” the highpoint is marked by a peak in the dynamic level, immediately followed by a rapidly occurring decrescendo that leads to the end of the song.

Before finishing the discussion of “Der Doppelgänger” it is important to mention one more level of echo, or repetition that occurs toward the end of the song; the above mentioned chromatic, rising piano accompaniment that begins in m. 43 ends at m. 47. It is worth mentioning because the repetitions are achieved through means that occur in the other Heine settings of Schwanengesang.

It is at this point in the song where this rising line is taken over by the vocal part in m. 47. We have seen that a similar thing happens in “Ihr Bild,” following the introduction. The motive in the piano accompaniment is abandoned and subsequently taken over by the vocal line. The final chord of “Der Doppelgänger” is somewhat of a mystery and many parallels can be drawn between it and the ending chord of “Die Stadt” and the final piano interlude of “Ihr Bild.” Throughout “Der Doppelgänger,” Schubert offers many repetitions of B-minor chords. Taking into account the ever-present F-sharp it is clear that the tonality sits firmly in the key of B minor. So, it is perhaps not problematic, but puzzling that Schubert chose to end the song on a B major triad. The presence of a major chord, particularly when all of the other “tonic” chords in the song are minor, implies a peaceful resolution in a sense. The text would lead us to believe otherwise however. The myth of the Doppelgänger states that to come into contact with one's double means that one's death is imminent. This certainly does not seem like a case in which an optimistic major triad, in a song otherwise full of minor tonality would be used. It is as if Schubert is denying the pervading presence of B minor and is suddenly letting the listener know that this minor key has been rendered false. A very similar phenomenon occurs in “Ihr Bild” at the final piano interlude at mm. 34-36 and in “Die Stadt” when, in Richard Kramer's words “the C-minor […] is rendered unstable by the prolonged diminished-seventh.”22 Just like “Der Doppelgänger,” this change of chord quality in “Ihr Bild” which does not make an appearance until the very end of the song, seems counterintuitive. Introducing this change in sonority toward the end of the piece is something that Schubert does frequently and is meant to evoke “a sense of distance and alienation in Schubert's Heine lieder of the Schwanengesang.”

A similar thing can be said of “Die Stadt” when considering what has been heard throughout the song and what is heard in the last measure. The difference in this case is that Schubert is treating the ending of “Die Stadt” in the opposite way as “Der Doppelgänger” and “Ihr Bild.” By that I mean “Der Doppelgänger” and “Ihr Bild” are ended in such a way as to tell the listener that his/her expectations up to the point of the end of the song have been rendered false.

The pervading minor tonality of these songs (particularly the echo motives and piano interludes) is kept intact until the very last moment. In other words, the opposite of what we expect to hear in the final measures of these songs occurs. “Die Stadt,” on the other hand, gives us less information in the last measure than we have had throughout the song. Schubert in this case is putting into the hands of the listener the interpretation. Although the key signature implies C minor, throughout this song there are multiple occurrences of C-minor and C-major chords. If it were anything like “Der Doppelgänger” or “Ihr Bild” there would have been confirmation of the tonality at the end of the song. Here Schubert leaves the debate open and gives the listener more freedom to hear what they want. The minor phrase endings and cadences in “Der Doppelgänger” are prevalent throughout except for the last chord of the song.

Just as Heine is setting up a sense of false expectation through the language of the poem by beginning it with words like “calm,” “quiet,” and “sweet” and then subsequently contrasting that with words such as “fearful,” “pain,” and “tortured” beginning in the final stanza, Schubert is doing a very similar thing regarding the harmonic content of the song. This is a phenomenon that occurs in several different areas of the Heine settings of Schwanengesang.

“Der Atlas” and “Das Fischermädchen”

As mentioned above “Der Atlas” along with “Das Fischermädchen” are the two Heine settings that bear the least resemblance to the rest of the set, particularly regarding the imagery of the text. In the case of “Ihr Bild,” “Der Doppelgänger,” “Am Meer,” and “Die Stadt,” the opening text gives little indication of the narrator's disappointment to come. Although the general mood of the texts in their first stanzas can certainly be considered gloomy, it is not until the final stanza that we learn that the story is not going to end in the narrator's favor. Heine is famous for his ironic and melancholy writing style, which as is the case with the above mentioned songs, typically does not present itself until toward the end of the poem. This is not the case with “Der Atlas” however. The reader/listener is immediately drawn into the sorrow and despair that Atlas is feeling upon the first line of text:

Miserable Atlas that I am! A world, The whole world of sorrows, must I bear, I bear the unbearable [...]

All of the other Heine settings, with the exception of “Das Fischermädchen” perhaps, toy with the expectations of the listener by creating an atmosphere of hope in the first lines of text only to be drawn back to the agonizing place of devastating loss.

Another important element of “Der Atlas” that is not found in the other settings is the straightforward harmonic scheme. This song is in ternary form and the key center of each section is very clear. The key scheme goes as follows: G minor, B major, G minor. As is common in Schubert songs the sections are related by chromatic mediant. Both the A section and A' section feature an abundance of G-minor chords telling the listener exactly where the song is harmonically. Compare this with the postludes of “Ihr Bild,” “Der Doppelgänger,” and “Am Meer” or the final solitary note of “Die Stadt” and it becomes clear that Schubert is using a more direct harmonic vocabulary here. In fact, the only chords that are present in A and A' (excluding the chromatic transition and re-transition beginning at m. 16 and m. 43 respectively) are diatonic i7, half-diminished ii7, V7 and fully-diminished vii7 chords in several different inversions.

The above examples highlight two important differences between “Der Atlas” and the other songs in the set, but that does not mean that no similarities exist. Isolating the piano accompaniment, we can see that it features a left-hand tremolo motive just like the ones present in “Die Stadt” and “Am Meer.” The latter is most similar to the tremolo heard in “Der Atlas.” In fact, if we only look at mm. 1-4 of “Der Atlas” and mm. 12-17 of “Am Meer” it becomes apparent that these two tremolos are so similar that it is unlikely it happened this way purely by chance. Both feature 32nd-note values and they are fixed in approximately the same place in the staff. It should also be noted that “Der Atlas” is related to “Die Stadt” in terms of the tremolo motive. The above discussion which outlined the structure of this motive in “Die Stadt” as X-O-X-O-X and O-X-O-X-O in “Am Meer” can also be applied to “Der Atlas.” In this case the structure is simply X-O-X (if we disregard the introduction).

Another similarity that exists between “Der Atlas” and the rest of the set is, once again, a repetitive or echo motive. The echo in this song takes on a different form than that of the others. These motives occur in the other songs primarily in the form of harmonic repetition and in “Der Atlas” the repetition is created through vocal reiterations. The stanzas are in direct relation to the musical form (ABA' = three stanzas) and therefore these repetitions were needed in order to make the text align more naturally with the music. In this case the music is taking precedence over the poetry. This is rare in the Heine settings of Schwanengesang, so much so that “Der Atlas” is the only song that employs this technique. No vocal repetitions are found in any of the other Heine songs.

Few elements of “Der Atlas” are present in the other Schwanengesang settings and “Das Fischermädchen” contains even fewer commonalities. However, one very clear common thread between “Das Fischermädchen” and the other settings is, once again, the idea of an echo motive. This echo here is in relation to the other straightforward echoes found in “Ihr Bild” (mm. 29-30) and “Der Doppelgänger” (mm. 13-14) just to name two. Measures 12-13 of the piano accompaniment in “Das Fischermädchen” is a direct reiteration of the vocal line heard in mm. 10-11. This obvious form of echo is also present in mm. 33-34 and mm. 54-55. Aside from this single similarity and the relatedness to “Die Stadt” and “Am Meer” through the imagery of water there is little common ground that would clearly include “Das Fischermädchen” in the cycle.

Referring back to Kramer's idea of a reordering can be beneficial in determining the proper place for “Der Atlas” and “Das Fischermädchen” in the cycle. Kramer's reordering places “Das Fischermädchen” as the first song in the set and “Der Atlas” as the last. The following lends further support to this ordering. In Kramer's view “Das Fischermädchen” represents the careless naiveté of the narrator and is the point in the cycle where the “Poet, on the make, offers up his heart in an ironic simile for the sea.” It follows then that this song is the first in the set simply because it is the most light-hearted of the six. In many tales of heartbreak, as this cycle is, the protagonist is at first unsuspecting and somewhat ignorant to the complexities of life and in the case of Schwanengesang, love. In this way Heine is able to reveal the fragility and innocence of the narrator right away, which makes his ultimate fate that much more powerful.Even if the poem was not one of innocent naiveté, the music alone still provides evidence that “Das Fischermädchen” could be the first in the cycle. In comparison to all of the other songs, “Das Fischermädchen” is different on several levels. First and most obviously, the general mood and pace of this song is bouncy and happy. This is achieved in part by the compound meter (6/8). Interestingly this is the only song in the set that is in compound meter and is partially responsible for the lively nature of the song and also the quicker pace. Every other song in the cycle is quite slow, with the exception of “Der Atlas,” and this slowing in tempo is an indication of the dark imagery that is to come in the songs that follow. I certainly agree with Kramer on the ordering in this case. It does not make sense to place this song in the middle of the cycle. It is much more appropriate as the first song given the stark contrast in mood between it and the others. The placement of “Das Fischermädchen” between “Ihr Bild” and “Die Stadt” makes little sense. The narrative of Schwanengesang is one of a steady decline. It begins with optimism at “Das Fischermädchen” and then progresses into the darkness.

Considering “Der Atlas,” Kramer's ordering makes sense but there is one issue that should be addressed. As mentioned above, coming into contact with one's double, or Doppelgänger, is a sign that death is coming soon. The only hurdle to Kramer's ordering in this case has to do with “Der Doppelgänger.” Since the narrator meets his double face to face in this song it follows that this may be the best candidate for the final song in the cycle. Of course this assumes that the idea of the Doppelgänger is being taken literally and any metaphorical meaning therefore must be left behind.

Furthermore Kramer's ordering of “Das Fischermädchen” and “Der Atlas” makes sense due to the simple fact that they are so different from the rest of the songs. In ordering them in this way “Das Fischermädchen” and “Der Atlas” serve as bookends to the rest of the songs. This is one way in which a level of symmetry can be applied to Schwanengesang. It is interesting to note that the symmetry achieved through these bookends has already been achieved in the individual songs themselves. Joseph Kerman says of the introduction and postlude of “Am Meer,” “the song begins and ends with an oracle framing or glossing the poetic statement.” Kerman's idea can also be applied to “Der Doppelgänger” and “Die Stadt,” although the oracle in this case is less clear. In placing “Das Fischermädchen” first and “Der Atlas” last in the cycle they are serving the same function as the mysterious introduction and postlude of “Am Meer.” They are framing the songs that constitute the body of the cycle; the songs that tell a tale of perpetually returning to the place of the narrator's most devastating loss.


So, what conclusions can be drawn regarding the cyclicity of the Heine settings of Schwanengesang? Kramer's idea of song ordering reveals many connections among the songs that perhaps otherwise would have been overlooked. Rearranging the songs in Kramer's order is not a necessity. His ordering is important, but musical characteristics such as motivic repetition, Schubert's musical language in connection with the introductions and postludes and textural variation explored above are at least equally important.

It is clear that when Schubert is confronted with certain poetic themes, such as loneliness and despair, he repeatedly uses specific musical themes or motives to convey the general mood of the poem. For example, when Schubert is trying to express the loneliness of the narrator in the opening measures of “Ihr Bild,” he uses very sparse texture and only one pitch in the introduction. The complete isolation of the narrator both in terms of his literal isolation of being by himself and the more abstract form of isolation that the narrator feels regarding his emotional state, is reflected perfectly by these opening bare B-flat octaves. Their repetition, which are separated by a rest of unknown duration, isolate the notes as well and this is in direct parallel to the state of mind of the narrator. A similar phenomenon occurs in “Der Doppelgänger” when the sparse texture of the opening chords are, again, meant to represent the loneliness of the narrator. In these two songs loneliness and aloneness are represented musically by sparse chords and/or texture.

Another example of Schubert's text painting consistency is present in “Die Stadt” and “Am Meer.” These being two of the water songs in the Heine settings it is not surprising that a similar musical device (tremolo) is used in both to convey the same poetic idea, the act of being on the water. This alone is enough to lend support to the idea that Schubert has developed a characteristic style present throughout the Heine settings of Schwanengesang, but it can also be determined that these songs are related to one another by their introductions. Both create a sense of unknown meter. The use of juxtaposed rhythmic values in the introduction of “Die Stadt” and the sustained chords in the introduction of “Am Meer” are the primary contributers to this metric ambiguity. Tonal ambiguity in these introductions is achieved through the use of embellishing chords that are not prepared (“Am Meer”) and the juxtaposed C tremolo and F-sharp fully-diminished seventh of “Die Stadt.”

In addition, the posthumous publication of Schwanengesang should not be a factor in determining whether or not it is a genuine song cycle. The fact that all of these poems are by a single author and that they all address similar subject matter is of great importance. This fact, in conjunction with Schubert's characteristic musical language in the Heine settings far outweigh any problems that may arise due to the date of publication. Neither Arthur Komar nor Patrick McCreless mention the time of publication in regard to the cyclic nature of any set of songs. They are much more interested in the connections between the poetry and the specific musical elements that bind a group of songs together. It is my hope that the above argument has illustrated more points of continuity among these songs, and emphasized that song order, though important, is not necessarily the governing force behind what constitutes a song cycle. Finally, I hope that this paper has at the same time answered and raised new questions regarding our understanding of Schubert's last works.

***The author of this paper was not able to include footnotes due to formatting issues. The authors cited in this paper are Arthur Komar, Patrick McCreless, Richard Kramer, Walburga Litschauer, John Reed, Martin Chusid, Joseph Kerman, Susan Youens, Alex Bein, Harry Zohn and Reeves Shulstad. All translations of Heine's poetry are provided by Martin Chusid.

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