Brahms’ “Rain Song” and the First Violin Sonata

Regenlied (“Rain Song”) is the third of Brahms’ 8 Lieder, Op. 59, published in 1873. The text by Klaus Groth is a wistful remembrance of the dreams and sense of awe experienced in childhood. The fourth song in the set, Nachklang (“Lingering Sound”) returns to the same thematic material. In this text, raindrops are equated with tears. In both songs, the piano evokes the patter of gently falling rain. Notice the way the three-note dotted rhythm motive which opens the song is echoed, ominously in the piano.

Here is a live recording by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau:

Now, let’s listen to the the way Regenlied forms the seeds for the final movement of Brahms’ First Violin Sonata, completed in 1879. We get a sense of the same underlying anxiety and melancholy that was present in the song, yet the coda offers a new quiet transcendence and release. The Sonata’s first movement opens with the same three-note dotted rhythm. In the middle of the final movement, there is a brief return of the expansive second movement.

Consider what Brahms’ contradictory tempo markings tell us about the way this music should be played: Vivace ma non troppo (“Lively, but not too much”) for the first movement and Allegro molto moderato for this final movement.

Here is violinist Stefan Jackiw’s 2010 recording:

Brahms’ Abendregen

In Abendregen (“Evening Rain”), from Brahms’ Op. 70 Lieder, the wanderer finds ultimate and lasting peace in the triumph of a rainbow:

Recordings

  • Brahms: 8 Lieder for Voice and Piano, Op. 59, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Tamás Vásáry Amazon
  • Brahms: Complete Violin Sonatas, Stefan Jackiw, Max Levinson Amazon
  • Brahms: 4 Songs, Op. 70, Andreas Lucewicz, Róbert Morvai Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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