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Neue Liebeslieder, Op. 65 (New Love Songs), also known as Neue Liebesliederwalzer, written by Johannes Brahms, is a collection of Romantic pieces written for four solo voices and four hands on the piano. The Neue Liebeslieder were written during the Romantic period between 1869 and 1874. The text of the songs is adapted from folk songs of various areas of Europe including Turkey, Poland, Latvia, and Sicily. The text for songs 1 through 14 were translated and compiled by Georg Friedrich Daumer in his poem series, Polydora; the text for the fifteenth and final song, entitled Zum Schluß (In Conclusion), was written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
The Neue Liebeslieder differs from the conventional Liebeslieder in the fact that the ensemble sections of the work are separated by two solo songs for the individual members of the quartet. Although this piece was originally written for a quartet, the Neue Liebeslieder is often performed by a larger chamber ensemble and soloists.
The better known and more liked portion of this fifteen song cycle are the seven quartets. Throughout these ensemble sections, Brahms uses innovative techniques to portray a central idea. For example, in the first song, measures 16-21, he depicts the rocky shores by the repeated cry of "zertrümmert", which, translated into English, means "wrecked". Brahms also enhances the text "Well auf Well" (wave after wave) with octave leaps in all four parts in measure 4 and 29. In song number 8, Brahms's use of the musical rest in the middle of the words mixed with the chorus singing dolce helps to create a gentle atmosphere.[original research?]
The eight solo sections of the Neue Liebeslieder differ from the ensemble parts in that the soloists illustrate different characters who behave in certain ways when it comes to love. The soprano is a female who continuously has no luck when it comes to men; the alto is depicted as a female who has suddenly abandoned her lover; the tenor is portrayed as a male who is selfish and irresponsible when it comes to sexual relationships with women; and the bass is one who is hopelessly in love with his married lover.[original research?]
The final song in this cycle moves away from the subject of lovers and puts the spotlight on the muses and thanks them for inspiring not only the author (Goethe), but also all of the artists in the world. With this change in subject comes the change in meter. Brahms moves away from the standard 3/4 meter and changes to 9/4. The music is also much more contrapuntal than the previous songs in this cycle. At the climax of this song in measure 16, the piano drops out and the choir sings a cappella and moves from the dominant key back to the tonic key of F.[original research?] J. A. Fuller Maitland, in Grove's Dictionary, wrote:
One of the most beautiful of all the quartets not in waltz-rhythm, is the epilogue to the second set of ‘Neue Liebeslieder’, a true lyric for four voices, with a gentler style of accompaniment than is provided for the rest. (Maitland 1904, 390)
- Fuller Maitland, J. A.. 1904. "Brahms, Johannes". Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by J. A. Fuller Maitland, M.A., F.S.A. in five volumes, 1:382–91. London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd.; New York: The Macmillan Company.
- Stark, Lucien. 1998. Brahms’s Vocal Duets and Quartets with Piano: A Guide with Full Texts and Translations. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-33402-0.
- Rehearsal Information for The Napa Valley Chorale 2006
- Detailed Listening Guide using a recording with four solo voices
- Neue Liebeslieder, op. 65 (Brahms): Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Neue Liebeslieder, op. 65 (Brahms), Neue Liebeslieder, op. 65a (Brahms): Free scores at the Brahms Institut.