analysis of frhlingstraum

October 7, 2017 | Author: api-270246827 | Category: Chord (Music), Franz Schubert, Musical Forms, Musicology, Pop Culture
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Marisa Curcio Dr. Helvering Musicianship II 4/28/2014 Analysis of Frühlingstraum from Schubert’s Winterreise Franz Schubert was born in 1797, and in a short life of only thirty-two years managed to become one of the foremost sounds of the early romantic era. From Austria, he was greatly influenced by composers like J.S. Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. He wrote over 1,000 works in total, but is most known for his more than 600 lieder for all voice parts and types. As these pieces often reflected events going on in his personal life, they were rather dark; he struggled with loss, heartbreak, depression, and was even suicidal at certain points in his life. However, these hardships absolutely transfigured the face of music in the early nineteenth century as he set them to text – both poetry that he found and some he had written himself – in the form of lieder. Die Winterreise, or “Winter Journey,” is arguably the most popular song cycle that Schubert ever wrote. Originally written for tenor and piano, it has been transposed to fit several different vocal ranges. It contains twenty-four pieces, each with text written by Wilhelm Müller that centered on the changing seasons and fickle love. Frühlingstraum is no exception; it is about a dream of springtime that falls through the singer’s grasp once he realizes that spring is a long way off and that his love can never flourish in the winter. Schubert expectedly set the text in AB-C-A-B-C form, otherwise known as strophic form. This particular setting means that the entire chord structure is identically repeated after the end of the first section; the text is the only variation made in the movement from one half to the next. The brilliance with which Schubert

composes every nuance of the text into the sound is awe-inspiring, truly bringing Die Winterreise to life. A chordal analysis of the first section Frühlingstraum reveals several interesting, unexpected turns. The progression used in the A section is exclusively diatonic; the only accidentals heard are coloring the melody. The period is asymmetrical, the first part that ends on an imperfect authentic cadence being significantly shorter than the latter part of the section. Interestingly, the A section never stops on a half cadence – only perfect authentic cadences (PAC) and imperfect authentic cadences (IAC). The perpetuity of this could be symbolic of the text, which is referencing a dream-like state of springtime that never seems to end. Schubert’s choice in tempo during this section is noted as etwas bewegt, or “somewhat moved”. This is clearly shown by the ascending arpeggiated chords accompanying the voice. They create the illusion of moving forward, and lightness in the sound that highlights the meaning of the text. The next section is a sudden contrast in tempo and color. Marked schnell, or “quickly”, the tempo immediately picks up with an increased understanding of reality for the singer. Both the voice and piano undergo an agitated, almost psychotic sequential modulation that has several tonic sections with little-to-no correlation among them. However, the progressions used in some of the tonics are repeated just after in a different tonality. The first chord heard after the A section is e minor in first inversion – a minor dominant relative to A major. E minor becomes the tonic briefly, moving from tonic to supertonic as a subdominant function and back to the tonic. The chord that follows, however, sparks some discussion. It looks like a French augmented sixth chord (Fr+6) that “incorrectly” resolves to the tonic. The chord, usually resolving to the dominant, functions as a subdominant chord with an outward resolution of the augmented 6th interval. In this case, and repeated three more times shortly after, it resolves to the tonic chord in

first inversion. Without analysis, it just seems like a passing chord or a coloration of the diatonic chordal structure – which changes rapidly in this section. The B section moves from e minor to d minor via a pivot chord, and then changes to g minor briefly before heading to a minor, the same patterns repeating throughout. The a minor section is the smaller part of the asymmetrical period, and marks the start of the codetta. This is a type of coda that concludes a section of a work instead of the whole work; it is usually characterized by a tonic extension and repetition, as it appears in this case. There is a tonic pedal tone in the bass, and above it are very dissonant chords formed by the right hand of the piano and the vocal line: a Neapolitan chord, a Fr+6, and a dominant 7 chord. It creates a sort of ominous sound that the text is painted upon. The pedal tone breaks, and the B section comes to a brief rest in a PAC in a minor. The C section is the slowest, most contemplative section in the work. There is a switch to 2/4 that occurs right at the beginning, and a tempo marking of langsam, meaning “slowly”, that brings the events that have just happened in the music to a striking halt. Also, Schubert very suddenly returns to the parallel major here, bringing the listener and the character back into the dreamlike state that they felt in the A section. The piano and the voice both avoid sounding the tonic for quite a bit at the beginning of this movement; the voice comes to rest on the third of the key, forming an IAC as opposed to a PAC, and the piano uses the tonic in second inversion as a passing chord until it rests on the root position tonic at the cadence. There is a clear feeling of perpetuity and unrest in this section, as is depicted by the way the voice interacts with the piano. Schubert sets a first inversion tonic chord at the next cadence, which also creates an IAC that suspends the listener and the character and keeps them wondering what is happening. The music moves without hesitation to the minor subdominant chord: a somewhat unexpected coloration of the line. The minor subdominant chord could then have resolved in several ways, one way being

the major tonic (making the minor subdominant chord a borrowed chord from a minor). Instead, it resolves to the minor tonic – a modal modulation that highlights the meaning of the section and the text. At the end of the section, right before it ends, we are left at the tonic. However, Schubert omitted the fifth and the third in the last two to three measures, leaving open octaves to make the gravity of the movement apparent. The text is painted stunningly well all throughout this song of Winterreise. This part of the character’s “winter journey” is about his Frühlingstraum, or “dream of springtime.” When he is asleep, metaphorically or physically, he dreams about the joys of spring and the presence of love in his life. For example, the entire A section is about his dreams of May and the beauty that comes with it. “Colorful flowers” is set as a sigh in the music, coming down the scale to rest on the tonic note. The word “merry” is set in a jubilant, energetic way, and “birdcalls” mirror the sounds of actual birdcalls; an irregular rhythm with an ascending arpeggio followed by a descending scale. “Merry birdcalls” repeats again, showing the repetitive nature of the calls. Later, when the same music is repeated again with different text, the word “love” is set as a sigh in a descending scale. “Beautiful” and “heart” are both set with a dotted rhythm that is unexpected and sounds like sighing. “Kisses” is set as an upward-bound arpeggio that comes back down to the tonic; it sounds like the joy and happiness that one could glean from kissing. Schubert’s ingenious way of setting text is continued into the B section. With the rapid change of keys, tempo, and dynamic, the sound becomes immediately more agitated – fitting the text quite well. “The roosters crowed” is set as a leap of a perfect fifth descending, showing the striking nature of the sound. “Awoke,” in “my eyes awoke,” is at the top of the phrase with a rise of sound leading to it – parallel to the feeling before one opens their eyes. It is “cold and dark,” so there is a sudden change of tonic and feeling in the music that shows this. When that line is

repeated, it is placed at one of the most dissonant points of the piece: the pedal tone tonic with a Neapolitan on top of it. When the ravens are “shrieking on the roof,” the melody jumps an octave down followed by a minor ninth up, and with a dotted rhythm; it shows very clearly the extreme, loud nature of the text. When the section repeats and the character sits alone and thinks about his dream, he is upset that it is not actually springtime, so the same agitated nature is felt again in the music. The C section is the most insightful and internal part of the piece. The melody is noodling in the same area of the voice creating a suspense in the sound that characterizes the equally suspenseful text. The character feels as though he has been lied to about the impending spring and an opportunity for love, especially when Schubert moves to minor after throwing in the minor subdominant chord. The question is posed, “do you laugh at the dreamer / who saw flowers in winter?” In this minor section, the text is repeated, and the listener and the performer garner a true understanding of the question. The tonal change that occurred in this section makes this portion of the text and the music the deepest and most impactful part of the movement. When the section is later repeated, the character poses another question: “When will I hold my beloved in my arms?” The true pain felt by the singer is evident as the section again moves from major to minor and ends the piece. Schubert used several compositional techniques to help move the music and the story along. For example, there are no half cadences at all throughout this piece. The music hardly ever stops moving forward, which shows the perpetuity of the text, but it cadences only on PAC’s and IAC’s. The music coming to a temporary pause on a half cadence is usually what defines a musical phrase. Schubert’s obscuring of the phrase, and the asymmetrical periods created therefrom, show a restless, uneasy, but not wholly unpleasant state. Also, the composer’s use of

the appoggiatura enhances the text and plays back and forth with the piano. A main purpose in this particular set of Lieder is the equal importance of the piano and the voice, so the appoggiatura – usually causing dissonance – puts importance and emphasis back into the voice temporarily. Viennese appoggiaturas are the most common type that Schubert wrote in Frühlingstraum. They sound like a regular appoggiatura; however, they are written as a grace note a whole step higher than the written pitch. When actuated, they take the place of the written pitch if the following note is the same. All appoggiaturas, Viennese or otherwise, represent sighing in the melody that further paints the text and colors the texture of the sound. Winterreise is an astonishing cycle of songs with the wisdom, maturity, and emotional intelligence of someone twice Schubert’s age. An analysis of Frühlingstraum reveals so much about the composer and his style, and the text is both beautifully crafted and perfectly set. The unrest shown by the voice and piano intermingling is the most prominent and perhaps the most important aspect of this movement. Of Schubert’s more than 600 lieder, this piece could stand alone and still make for a dramatic, passionate song about the dream of springtime and a life of love.

References Frühlingstraum from Schubert’s Winterreise [Video file]. (2009, September 12). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gkOOGYnNlc Giarusso, R. (n.d.). Beyond the Leiermann: Disorder, reality, and the power of imagination in the final songs of Schubert’s Winterreise. In B. M. Reul & L. Byrne Bodley (Eds.), The Unknown Schubert (pp. 25-41). Schubert, F. P. (Composer). (n.d.). Die Winterreise [Score].

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