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This thesis presents a new interpretation of Johannes Brahms's Vier ernste Gesänge, op. 121. Foundational information is provided on Brahms's spirituality and knowledge of the Bible, his personal life surrounding the composition of the Vier ernste Gesänge, and his relationship to the philosophy of Schopenhauer, which has previously been connected to these songs. The unity of the cycle is also considered; although it has been widely claimed that the final song either does not belong in the set or is the weakest of the four, this interpretation argues for its validity and its importance in an overall understanding of the set. Key musical details are explored in each of the four songs and a conclusion is drawn: Brahms's choice of texts and musical settings of those texts point to a sense of hope which may be an indication of Brahms's own late spirituality.
Lied, Brahms, Vier Ernste Gesänge, Spirituality, Bible, Art Song, Lieder, Op. 121
Date of Defense
April 4, 2011.
A Thesis submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music.
Includes bibliographical references.
Douglass Seaton, Professor Directing Thesis; Denise Von Glahn, Committee Member; Michael Buchler, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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