- Hardcover: 376 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (4 May 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300079621
- ISBN-13: 978-0300079623
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.4 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 862,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Songs of Johannes Brahms Hardcover – 4 May 2000
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"Sams's book is the fruit of a lifetime's immersion in the topic. No one else alive is better qualified to write it. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be the standard work on the Brahms lieder for years to come." Graham Johnson
About the Author
Eric Sams is a world authority on lieder and the author of numerous works of musicology, including The Songs of Robert Schumann and The Songs of Hugo Wolf. He is also the author of The Real Shakespeare and editor of Shakespeare's Edward III, published by Yale University Press.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author analyzes 212 of Brahms's songs - all 196 that Brahms published in opus-numbered sets, the eight resettings of Op. 103 Zieguenerlieder quartets for solo voice, and eight works without opus numbers. Not included are any of the many Deutsche Volkslieder set by Brahms.
For each song, the author provides the German text and a prose English translation. The translations are especially well done; by doing them in prose, the author is able to more faithfully render the meaning of the German than would be the case were the translation to be restricted by the requirements of English rhyme and meter.
Each translation is followed by a non-technical discussion of the song, generally in one or two paragraphs but occasionally longer. These describe the musical structure of the song and the methods that Brahms used to convey his meaning; occasionally there is also a brief bit of background on the circumstances of the song's composition.
For each song, there then follow a more technical notes section, in which the author identifies the source of the text, identifies recurring motifs that Brahms used in his songs (an introductory chapter describes these motifs), references other settings of the same text by other composers, and sometimes describes early reactions to the song by Brahms's friends or fellow musicians.
The analyses illustrate the author's deep understanding of this marvelous literature and have greatly enhanced both my knowledge and appreciation of this superb body of work. The principal omission, and the reason I rate the book only four stars, is the complete absence of musical quotations - except for a few in the introductory "Motifs" chapter - in spite of the fact that in his analyses, the author often refers to specific measures by number. To fully appreciate the author's insights, therefore, you will need access to scores. (Fortunately, Dover publishes a very affordable four-volume set of the complete Brahms songs, available from Amazon.)
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