Geert Woltjer, Analysis of Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte

Analysis of song 2

The poem of the second poem tells about nature where the I-figure would like to be if he can't be with his love.

The second song is derived from the first motive of the first song. The basic motive is presented as G-A-Bes in the piano, comparable with C-D-Es in m. 2 of the first song. And in m. 3 the same motive is used downwards (comparable with Bes-A-G in m. 1-2 of the first song), creating a very small, symmetric theme of an upwards and downwards version of the motive (The first version of this song had only downward movements, see Reynolds, 1994).  The first theme starts on "Wo" with a moment of rest in a quarter note, on the tonic, and is sequentially repeated (with the first 1/4 note replaced by a 1/8 note) starting with an A on the dominant in m. 6. The downward movement is repeated twice in m. 7 and 8, with in the piano repetition enchanting C-D dissonant on a V7 chord. The atmosphere of this mildly flowing theme, standing still for more than half a measure mostly on the first beat, suggest beautifully the dreaming and melancholic atmosphere of the text.

In m. 10 the sequence is continued starting with A, and continuing on B in m. 12, both starting on the word "Wo". The dreaming process is symbolized by the harmony going towards a II7 (A chord) in m. 12, and the wishing in "möchte ich sein" is visible in the variations in the bass and right hand middle voice of the piano, including the E in the bass that is not included in the harmony (or makes a VI7 chord of it). The repetition of "möchte ich sein" in m. 16 accentuates this wishing.
The piano interlude in m. 13-19 uses a sequence of two downward motives to show the effect of "wishing". During this process the harmony transforms from G major into C major, where the description of the place where the I-figure wants to be is presented recited by the voice on a G, and the piano presents the theme in a high and rising register, with a very basic harmony in C major below it: I (m. 20-21), V (m. 21-26), I (m. 26-31).

After this dream the poem tells about the forces of love and pain that drives him to the forest. The harmony goes back to G major, increasing speed towards an Allegro. during this process, the motive is separated in smaller, chromatic steps (m. 22), with a diminished chord on the last beat of m. 32. The increasing pressure is reinforced by repeated upwards movements in the piano, with larger intervals and also filling in the long notes of the voice. But when the pain is mentioned the harmony goes to g minor and the tempo goes towards Adagio. After a relatively long pause "innere Pein" is repeated, accompanied by two diminished chords (on Es and on E)  and ending on a D chord, the dominant.

The last sentence tells that he wouldn't glance to the forest if he could be with his love. The filling in of the long tones by the piano continues, but with the lower speed the feeling is more dreaming.  Between the first and second "ewiglich sein" the piano repeats the E-fis-D-G motive introduced in m. 14. The second "ewiglich sein" repeats the 3/8-1/8 rhythm of the first motive in the first song.