Brahms was thought of as both a traditionalist and an innovator. He describes his songs as ‘Lieder und Gesang’, seeing them as a development of the genre as exemplified by Franz Schubert in the early part of the nineteenth century. Die Mainacht was written between1857 and 1864 on a text by Ludwig Heinrich Christoph Hölty (1748-1776) and has quickly become one of his most beloved songs. His control of form on multiple levels, from the rhythmic lengthening of the word ‘Schattern’ to the strophic recapitulation towards the end of the song, is quite extraordinary. As with much of Schubert’s work, no gesture is wasted; he creates a near perfect balance between text and music.
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