Analysis of Schumann's Dichterliebe by Geert Woltjer

Analysis of song 14

The poem of song 14 continues with the dream motive. The love of the poet greets him. Also his love teardrops emerge. She murmurs a nice word and gives a spray of cypress. The poet awakes and doesn’t remember the word.

The first two strophes have the same structure: A (m. 1-4)-A (m. 5-8)-B (m. 8-13). The second strophe, with the surprise, has small variations on the second A-part, and deviates an important variation on the B-part. The A-parts have only downward melody lines. The B-part rises and then has a downward line, in the first two strophes till a very low note in the voice.

The harmony of this song is completely different from the song before. According to the logic of the harmonic relationships between most songs, you would expect the song to be in Bes, but it is half a tone higher, in B. This is consistent with the rather blunt changes in harmonic tonics in song 13, consistent with dreaming.

The harmony of the A-parts of the song itself is very simple: I-II-V7. The B-parts are much more complex. Recognize that it starts with a 3/4 instead of a 2/4 measure. In the first two strophes the B chord as the solution of the A-part becomes a B7, i.e. the V7 of E, that with the word "stürz" seems to be redefined as a Gis chord solving into Cis7 with "mich", that suggests to be solved through Cis7 into B, and it does, but first it goes immediately to B at the start of m. 10. In the piano interlude the ends of m. 11 and halfway m. 12 are diminished chords, the first a seventh chord on B, the second on Fis. The crescendo and decrescendo, with an accent on the diminished chord reinforce the power of the harmonic development.

The B-part of the last strophe does not have the 3/4 measure. In m. 36 the harmony jumps from an E chord  to a Dis7 chord that solves through Cis7, Fis7 into B at the end of the song. But this does not happen immediately. First, in m. 36 the progression excludes the Cis7. Then it starts with Cis7, the chord that was missing in the progression before, but excludes the Fis7, and finally it starts with the Fis7 and solves to B, with the Fis7 chord prolonged till the second bar of the last measure. The voice ended in Fis, leaving an unfinished feeling, especially because the solution into B is so short in the end.