Geert Woltjer, Analysis of Schumann's Dichterliebe

Analysis of song 10

The poem has to strophes, where the first strophe is rhyming, but in the second strophe the last line is not rhyming on the second line.  The first strophe starts with a type of question: "Did I hear the song of my love?" If this would have been the case, then my heart will burst. The longing of the song of his love drives him to the top of the hill in the wood where he starts crying of pain. It seems obvious that the longing for his love is the cause of the grieve.

The song is in g minor, again a fifth relationship with song 9 before, that was in d minor. The piano prelude anticipates the melody of the singer starting m. 5. But the song is presented after the beat, as the first of a three tones of a broken chord with large downward intervals. The broken intervals may suggest a nice accompaniment of the song with a harp. The harmony is very clear in g minor, and well grounded in the stable bass line. The melody is at a high pitch, that in combination with the after beat rhythm gives a very far away feeling. All this together gives a good impression of the first question "Did I hear the song of my love".

The melody suggested in m. 1-4 is the same as the singer. The most simple harmonization of the first line of the melody could have been I-V7-I, but the real harmonization is more complicated: I-V7-VI-II-III-V7-I. The broken chords are an octave lower than in the introduction, and don't follow the song line very precisely any more since m. 7.

With the second half of the first strophe we see a development towards C minor. The change of a bes in a b in the second half of m. 9 creates a dominant seventh chord on G, that solves into c in m. 10 that goes to Des (instead D) back through c, G7 to C below the word "Schmerzendrang". This evolves through fifth-7 relationships through C7, F7, Bes7 to Es7 in m. 15. This modulation may suggest longing towards the top of the hill. In m. 16 the harmony goes to a7, instead of As7, suggesting that height. This continues through D7 to g, the tonic of the melody. The Es on the first beat of m. 18 surprises a little bit in this context.

The second half of the first strophe also gives a reappearance of the lengthened notes in the upper part of the right hand piano. Recognize also the two dissonants D-Es in m. 15, when the top of the wood is referred to. This may anticipate already the tears at the top.

The piano postlude, starting in m. 19, has the melody in the prelude, delayed as there, but without the rests on the start of the beats and finished with a short g in m. 22. The harmony of the prelude is also followed, but this develops much more slowly till g in m. 24. In m. 22 a second voice starts with the same melody an octave lower, with the accented Bes. In m. 23 the melody starts for the third time, again an octave lower, but ends in a chromatic movement towards D in m. 25-6. Recognize also the punctuated rhythm in the bass, comparable to the piano postlude of song 7.

The last part of the piano postlude has a movement downwards of four scale tones, referring perhaps to the piano melody in song 9, while at the same time continuing the movement of the middle voice during the song.

The harmony on the second beat of m. 26 suggests at the same time an A chord and a g chord, where the melody suggests an a chord. The second measure suggests a D chord in the melody, with the suggested g chord without G in the bass. Finally, the melody continuous downwards till it reaches obviously the g minor chord. The downward movement is more or less parallel to the end of song 9, and maybe even song 6.