Analysis of Schumann's Dichterliebe by Geert Woltjer

Analysis of song 6

The poem is quite different from the poems before. It starts with the holy city Köln mirrored in the river. Then the focus is on the cathedral and within the cathedral a painting of Maria around whom flowers and cherubs float. She is just like my love. Till the last two lines everything focuses on the holy Maria, but in the last two lines the surprise comes that she is associated with the poet's love. It is by the way quite normal that you are projecting your love on people around you when you have just lost your love.

The song is in e minor, logically following b minor of the song before. In the postlude of song 5 the e chord is already used a lot. In contrast of all songs before, the song is mainly loud, while the voice is at a low pitch.

The song has two contrapuntal lines. First, the broad line that starts in the bass of the piano. The rather pompous melody may represent the strong building of the cathedral, or even the whole city. The other line is the very flexible melody starting in the right hand of the piano, with an eighth note followed by  punctuated quarter. This may symbolize the reflecting waves of the water. The singer is parallel to the bass line, but integrates sometimes its punctuated rhythm in the melody.

The broad melody is first rising when the text is about the holy river, and then goes downwards during when the text is about the reflections in the waves. In m. 8 the bass line takes over a little of the wave rhythm; is this the reflection of the cathedral in the waves?

Recognize the regular use of the downwards scales, an extension of what already happened in the postlude of song 5, and is in the extreme in the postlude of this song: starting with C in measure 47 it is going downwards with more than an octave till a deep A in m. 54.