Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

William Boehle


The focus of this study is the various treatments given by composers to a twelve line poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The text is the common factor over which the differences of approach and treatment are laid by composers in compositions which range in time of initial publication from 1796 to 1888. The condition of the Lied immediately prior to the publication of the first of the settings is taken as the starting point, since all of the chosen settings may be classified as Lieder. The composers whose works are discussed are Karl F. Zelter, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and Hugo Wolf.

The method employed was a textual and musical analysis of the chosen compositions. The discussion covers the treatment of the text in respect to the alteration, deletion, repetition, and addition of words. The repetition of entire lines of the poem is also discussed. The placement of musical dramatic crises in relation to the words is covered also. The discussion of the musical aspects of the settings centers on harmonic analysis, the changing role of the piano in vocal music, changes in melodic motion, and alterations of form.

The results of the study show that there are recognizable differences which reflect the general conditions of song literature at the time of the composition of the various selections and that there were various recognizable developmental trends which evolved throughout the nineteenth century.

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