At the age of 20, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) lived with Robert and Clara Schumann in Düsseldorf, helping to care for their children in return for lessons in composition. Brahms wrote “Mondnacht” in that year, using the same text as Schumann’s “Mondnacht,” from more than a decade earlier. Robert praised Brahms in his writing and influenced his own publisher to print the song, launching Brahms as a composer. After composing his fourth and last symphony in 1884, Brahms devoted the rest of his career mainly to solo piano pieces, chamber music and songs.
Mondnacht (Moonlit Night, 1853)
Five Songs, op. 107 (1886-1888)
#1. To the Haughty Woman
Your heart: do you even have one?
A bad girl throws a salamander into a fire. A cool devil,
though, he thrives on hot love.
#3. The Girl Speaks
She speaks to a swallow, asking about her new husband.
Pussywillows welcome the springtime. I break one off
and tuck it in my old hat.
#5. Girl’s Song
In the spinning shop, boys come to woo the girls. I weep
because I was not chosen.
Gypsy Songs, op. 103 (1888)
#6 Three Little Roses in a Row