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Dialogue of Cultures

Friederich Schiller

How Johannes Brahms
Friedrich Schiller

Instruct Us in
Today's Civilizational Crisis

This article is reprinted from FIDELIO Magazine,
Vol . IX No.1 , Spring 2000 . Most figures and
graphics are not included online.

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Vocal Score of Brahms's Setting
'Dem Dunkeln Schoss der Heil'gen Erde'

from Schiller's

'The Song of the Bell'

Cloret Richardson

Johannes Brahms' unaccompanied four-part choral work, "Dem dunkeln Schoss der heil'gen Erde," was given to us posthumously in 1927.1 Urged on by its beauty, the author turned to examination of its theme for direction in resolving the present historical paradox: We stand poised on the threshold of a new Dark Age, or, conversely, that of a new Renaissance of global reconstruction. This concern coincided with the birthday of the "Poet of Freedom" Friedrich Schiller, from whose "The Song of the Bell" the Brahms' text is drawn.2

Helga Zepp LaRouche's extensive discussion of Schiller's ideas, captured in "The Song of the Bell," fueled the desire to further investigate both Schiller's original poem, and the Brahms choral ensemble.3 The ocean of compositions penned by Lyndon LaRouche elaborating the essence of Classical art, especially that of musical composition, provide the means by which to become equipped to undertake a competent investigation of works lying jointly in the domains of poetry and music.

Additionally, study of the Schiller Institute's "Music Manual,"4 both Volume I and the recently published Volume II "Appendix" with an introduction by Mr. LaRouche, 5 makes clear to even the musical layman, how Classical compositions are born, and their ideas made transparent. These materials enrich one's ability to render more accurately the composer's ideas in performance. Informed in this way, investigation of the specific Brahms and Schiller compositions proceeded on the most "rudimentary" level, yielding the enjoyment of innumerable hours of creative fun.

In his "Aesthetic Estimation of Magnitude," Schiller points out that,

If an object exceeds the idea of its species-magnitude, it will, to a certain degree, put us into a state of bewilderment ... insofar as ... the magnitude which we expected has been exceeded. We have derived this measure merely from a series of empirical experiences ... . If, on the other hand, a product of freedom exceeds the idea which we establish for ourselves about the constraints of its cause, we will no doubt feel a certain sense of admiration. What startles us in such an experience is not merely the exceeded expectation, it is at the same time that the constraints have been cast off. There, in the earlier case, our attention simply remained on the product ...; here, our attention is drawn toward the generative force, which is moral, or at least associated with a moral being, and as such it must necessarily interest us. 6

One may well experience the bewilderment and admiration that Schiller describes through a serious study of Johannes Brahms' choral work "Dem dunkeln Schoss der heil'gen Erde." In very few lines, his musical treatment rings true to the conception governing Schiller's twenty-nine stanza poetical work. From seemingly "very little," does Brahms bring forth "so much."

Through Brahms' dialogue with Schiller across time, we are able to travel the process Plato calls "hypothesizing the higher hypothesis." This process holds the key to why, and how, Brahms' eight-line setting becomes a faithful rendering of the idea governing Schiller's much longer poem. As well, this process directs us toward the reason each of these compositions, in its own right, can play an instrumental role in elevating us above the mediocrity of the age in which we live.

Our noble endeavor to rescue civilization from its descent into a new Dark Age draws us, as active participants, into Brahms' dialogue with Schiller. Our journey traverses the many searchings of the past for truth concerning the nature of man: from Mozart, Bach, Beethoven through to the present searchings of Norbert Brainin and Lyndon LaRouche. Yet, as each of these many searchings prove to be a valid hypothesis, representative of a single adducible principle of truthfulness—a One, regarding the nature of man—they become insufficient until you and I, individually, employ that same capacity of reason in discovering, for ourselves, the principle through which that singular truth can be known. As an individual, can you, yourself, disprove the popular misconception that a human being is merely a poorly or better-trained animal? Can you demonstrate why the function of great art is to stimulate that faculty of man residing above the neckline?

On this note, the thoughts of LaRouche shape the measure by which the conduct of one's reasoning begins. In paraphrase: "Following a decent performance of Mozart, Beethoven, or Brahms, one cannot find a dry eye in the house. Conversely, after a performance of Wagner, there's not a dry seat in the audience."

To recreate a performance of the former type, it is only necessary that our "inner ear" resonate with the principle of truthfulness sounded by both Schiller's "Song of the Bell" and Brahms' "Dem dunkeln Schoss." We would aim to steer our thoughts on a course of collision—where the efficient past, present, and future collide. A course LaRouche identifies as the "simultaneity of eternity."

For this journey, the musical and poetical compositions of great Classical composers form a map to guide us. These works lawfully assert the principle of man's dominion over nature, where artistic beauty supersedes the beauty of nature. This natural beauty includes the potentialities of the entire middle C=256 pivoted well-tempered system of 48 keys, colored by six distinct species of singing voice, the primary harmonic divisions of the musical scale and complimentary inversions, as well as modalities (Major, minor, Lydian/major/minor).

In the realm of Classical art, artistic beauty triumphs over natural beauty, for here, the artist's necessary and sufficient creative powers of mind lawfully bend nature to man's command. Yet, into this repertoire of principles, from which our map has been generated, another unique discovery has been integrated: the principle of motivic thorough-composition.

Work the good, and humanity's godlike plant dost thou nourish,
From the beauteous, thou strew'st seeds of the godlike abroad. 7
The function of the Classical mode of composition is to increase mankind's potential relative population-density, by virtue and in sake of fostering man's species-likeness to God (imago viva Dei). The substance of this method is the principle of change. For example, with the principle of motivic thorough-composition, the entire musical/poetical idea becomes efficiently stated in a condensed form at the very outset of the composition. This form of the idea is driven through a density of transformations, where each and every vocal part becomes a valid hypothesis, in itself, and in conjunction with the other, to resolve the original paradox. The future ending of the poetical/musical idea governs the increase of lawful transformations, within and across each part of the process of development, from beginning throughout the entire process. 8

'The Song of the Bell'

In her Fidelio discussion of "The Song of the Bell," Helga Zepp LaRouche states: "That Schiller intended that this poem, with twenty-nine stanzas, work on us as music, already becomes apparent by the fact that he himself put the word 'song' in the title." 9 Unlike the composer Andreas Romberg's setting, 10 Brahms demonstrates a keen appreciation for Schiller's talent and intention regarding the form and content of "The Bell." How? Rather than make the entire Schiller poem the basis of his musical work, as Romberg did, Brahms selects out a single but key stanza of the poem, a hushed acknowledgement of that which Beethoven loudly states: "Schiller's poems are very difficult to set to music. The composer must be able to lift himself far above the poet; who can do that in the case of Schiller? In this respect Goethe is much easier." 11

Schiller advocates that both composer and poet be artists, who trace the laws "of the inner movements of human hearts," and their necessity. He insists that the Classical artist provide something above the words and musical tones "which corresponds to these laws." As a testament to this ideal, Schiller crafts his own works on the most rigorous principles of motivic thorough-composition, which "touches upon the essence of human creativity." As elaborated and advanced by Mozart and Beethoven, this method pivots on the Platonic notion of paradox: "In composition, the process as a whole is the One which holds the Many together. The composer and the performing artist must always have this unity in mind, and formulate the individual parts as proceeding from it." 12

With his decision to use the "Dem dunkeln Schoss" strophe, Brahms demonstrates that he accepts Schiller's challenge to the artist. How so? This particular strophe proves to function as the punctum saliens, the conceptual turning point, of the entire poem. And Brahms' realization that this is so, reveals that he has relived the processes of mind out of which Schiller generated the idea of the entire poetic composition.

In the larger poem, the construction of the bell serves as a metaphor for the unfolding process of man's lifetime. We are taken through the life process of a Master craftsman on three distinct levels:

(1) the productive powers of labor, as viewed from the process of bell-casting:

Walled up in the earth so steady line 1
Burned from clay, the mould doth stand.
This day must the Bell be ready!
Fresh, O workmen, be at hand!
From the heated brow
Sweat must freely flow,
That the work may praise the Master,
Though the blessing comes from higher.
This it is, what all mankind graceth, 17
And thereto his to understand,
That he in inner heart so traceth,
What he createth with his hand.

(2) the family unit, as a vehicle for transmitting impassioned and profound ideas to the individual person:

The passion doth fly. 102
Love must be enduring;
The flowers fade by,
Fruit must be maturing.
The man must go out
In hostlie life living,
Be working and striving
And planting and making,...
His fortune ensnaring.
... And indoors ruleth 116
The housewife so modest,
The mother of children,
And governs wisely
In matters of family,
And maidens she traineth
And boys she restraineth,
And goes without ending
Her diligent handling,
And gains increase hence
With ordering sense.

(3) the need to mould an appropriate social order (i.e., the sovereign nation-state), whose sole raison d'être promotes and furthers the growth of the productive powers of the individual, and hence those of the state:

Holy Order, blesséd richly, 302
Heaven's daughter, equals has she
Free and light and glad connected,
City buildings hath erected,
Who herein from country dwelling
The uncivil savage calling,
Ent'ring into human houses,
Gentler custom she espouses,
With the dearest band she's bound us,
Love for fatherland weaves 'round us.

Before the poem concludes, Schiller references the French Revolution's failure to bring a republican order to European shores, and stay the course of the American Revolution's earlier success:

Where senseless powers are commanding, 352
There can no structure yet be standing,
When peoples do themselves set free,
There can no common welfare be.
Naught holy is there more, and cleaving 372
Are bonds of pious modesty,
The good its place to bad is leaving,
And all the vices govern free.
To rouse the lion, is dang'rous error,
And ruinous is the tiger's bite,
Yet is most terrible the terror
Of man in his deluded state.
Woe's them, who heaven's torch of lighting
Unto the ever-blind do lend!
It lights him not, 'tis but igniting,
And land and towns to ash doth rend.

Prior to, and following the "Dem dunkeln Schoss" strophe, the Master's idea of the purpose and meaning of life is constantly challenged. Does his conception of life issue from that of "durable survival," in Lyndon LaRouche's phrase, or does he live merely in the moment? In the face of disaster, how does his idea of life stand up?

Hopeless all 207
Yields the man 'fore God's great powers,
Idle sees he all his labors
And amazed to ruin going.

All burnt out
Is the setting,
Of the savage storm's rough bedding;
In the empty window op'ning
Horror's living,
And high Heaven's clouds are giving
Looks within.

Just one peek
To the ashes
Of his riches
Doth the man behind him seek—
His wanderer's staff then gladly seizes.
Whatever fire's rage has cost,
One solace sweet is e'er unmovéd:
He counts the heads of his belovéd
And see! not one dear head is lost.

Without regret or reservation, the Master acknowledges that human existence is a much higher Good. Still, in what way will he now chart the course of his destiny? How will he confront the stated tasks: recasting the bell, itself; reconstructing the family's life process, following the death of a parent and spouse?

Above all: how will he meet the unstated task—that of constructing the nation-state, which has yet to be introduced into the poem? Does not this discussion resonate with relevance to the present array of existential crises facing each of us: The breakdown of a family-centered upbringing for children; the lack of a job—or, having to work too many jobs? an operational coup d'état against the elected President of the United States? the threat of world war, staged in the midst of the final disintegration and collapse of the world's financial and monetary system? the greatest decay of cultural and moral standards to occur since the last European Dark Age?

Through this rich process of transforming each individual hypothesis of his multi-layered idea, Schiller evokes the principle of "unity in multiplicity," addressed by Plato in his Parmenides dialogue.

Soft. Brahms' chorus now begins to emerge:

Dem dunkeln Schoss der heil'gen Erde
Vertrauen wir der Häunde Tat,*
Vertraut der Sämann seine Saat
Und hofft, dass sie entkeimen werde
Zum Segen, nach des Himmels Rat.
Noch köstlicheren Samen bergen
Wir trauernd in der Erde Schoss
Und hoffen, dass er aus den Särgen
Erblühen soll zu schönerm Los. 13

To holy earth's e'er-darkening womb
Do we entrust our hands' true deed,*
The sower doth entrust his seed
And hopes, indeed, that it will bloom
To bless, as Heaven hath decreed.
Still more precious seeds we've stored
Grievingly in the womb of the earth
And hoping, that from the coffin forw'rd
Blooms forth to[ward] a beautiful destiny. 14

This line of Schiller's text omitted by Brahms.

But, "Hold on!" you say, "Brahms fails to give us the beginning or the conclusion of Schiller's 'Lied von der Glocke.' You said the principle guiding all great works of art lies in its future ending." Yes, dear friend, this remains true. Yet one needs to note the essence of the principle which shapes Brahms' future design, to truly appreciate that which flows from it.

Having removed the stanza's second line of text, Brahms' verse conceptually bespeaks an "unheard" process. Though a single verse, Brahms' choice yet echoes a unified conception of Schiller's entire poem:"the process of Becoming, through which all things earthly fade away." This "universal motif" of Schiller's poetical works acknowledges the principle of change as the substance of the universe, wherein each phase of man's progress requires a lawful change in the hypotheses governing his previously existing bounty of knowledge. We are drawn to reflect on the generative principle that places the human individual apart from, and above other living beings. We come to the realization that our true life possessions derive solely from our "species-likeness" to God-the-Creator: man's potential for creative reason. Endowed by our Creator with the capacity to generate fully efficient ideas—hope, justice, optimism, love of Truth and Beauty, love for our fellow man—we are able to direct the movements and existences within the realm of the "here and now." Our creative potential, employed this way, grants us the greatest dominion over nature, and the most efficient means of increasing the measure of our fruitfulness: the potential relative population-density of our species. This unseen, unheard capacity allows us to participate in the eternal, and a concordance between freedom and necessity develops.

Cultivation of man's "innermost voice," as the pathway to this concordance, develops as a "philosophical-poetic motif"—a motiführung, as it were, among the vast array of Schiller's composition. For example, in the poem "Hope" ("Hoffnung"):

'Tis hope delivers him into life,
Round the frolicsome boy doth it flutter,
The youth is lur'd by its magic rife,
It won't be inter'd with the elder;
Though he ends in the coffin his weary lope,
Yet upon that coffin he plants — his hope.

It is no empty, fawning deceit,
Begot in the brain of a jester,
Proclaimed aloud in the heart is it:
We are born for that which is better!
And what the innermost voice conveys,
The hoping spirit ne'er that betrays. 15

Or, in a different, yet equivalent manner, "The Sower" is a reflective irony concerning the nature of man's mortality:

See, full of hope thou entrustest to th' earth the seed which is golden
And expectest in the spring joyous the blossoming crop.
But in the furrow of time bethink'st thou thy actions to scatter,
Which, by thy wisdom sown, still for eternity bloom? 16

'Dem Dunkeln Schoss'

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter
John Keats

Let us now cross over, into the realm of "in-betweenness." We seek to locate Brahms' idea between the notes with which it is constructed. The poetry unfolds in a measured tread, where the rhythm of common time is shaped by Brahms geometrically. A sequence of expanding (larger: fifth and sixth) to contracting (smaller: thirds, whole, and half-step) musical intervals, intersperse with extended moments of "quietness" (i.e., rests), all juxtaposed within the "compression" or "broadening" of space-time. This expanding and contracting phenomenon, across the composition, breathes life into the entire conception. As if a living, breathing entity came forth into existence. Only a higher, nobler love captures the essence of creative tension which emerges as the idea unfolds in this manner; the emotion of agape, as addressed by St. Paul in his 1 Corinthians 13.

The impression of "expanding and contracting" detected in Brahms' musical setting can be traced back to Schiller's harmonization of the German-language strophe's "vowel-harmony" with that of its idea-content. 17 Every aspect of the strophe issues from the ending phrase: "erblühen soll zu schönerm Los" (literally, "shall bloom forth toward a beautiful destiny"). The phrase is primarily composed of long-sounding vowels: /long ü/, /long u/, /long ö,/ /o/.

The wave of rising and falling vowel pitches grows from short short e,ä (head, bet), short u (hood, put), short o (hawed, cause), to the diphthongs (heil'gen, entkeimen), /a short o (hawed, cause/ of the verbs vertrauen and vertraut, through to the long long a (hod, father) of Tat, Saat, and Rat. The diphthongs "add an extra dimension of musical inflection," since they are "spoken largely on the first vowel, then inflected from that pitch to the closing pitch." 18 Out of this vowel sequence (and punctuation) emerges an increased expansion of the musical space: long vowel long a (hod, father) of Tat followed by a slight pause, then the diphthong / dipthong au short o (hawed, cause/ (of the verb vertraut), diphthong dipthong ei (hay, bake)/ (seine), long long a (hod, father) (Saat). Now the space contracts with the short vowel short o (hawed, cause of the verb hofft ("hopes"), followed by another slight pause. Then long /i/ of sie, followed by the diphthong dipthong ei (hay, bake)/ (of verb entkeimen), expands the space once again only to again contract with a series of short vowels punctuated by another slight pause; which unfolds into the phrase "nach des Himmels Rat" ("according to Heaven's decree") governed by the long long a (hod, father).19

The crucial idea lies in attempting to reconcile two mutually opposing notions: that of Destiny, or Fate—i.e., something "predetermined" or beyond man's control—with the idea of the beautiful. Where does resolution to this paradox reside? In Schiller's notion of the beautiful, that which appears to be "predestined" can be transcended through man's willful act of cognition. Only man possess the potential powers of reason to change his condition of existence, that of other inferior species, and of nature surrounding him, for the better.

Another way to view what Schiller intends comes to mind with the aphorism, "to reap what you sow." Our attention is drawn to this lesson by the alliteration introduced in the third line of the German "s," Sämann-seine-Saat, which resembles an English-sounding "z." In this case, the "sowing" (Saat) of the "sower" (Sämann) becomes governed by that which "shall bloom forth toward a beautiful destiny."

In an essay entitled, "The Roots of Today's Mass Hysteria," Lyndon LaRouche develops upon the concordance this notion expresses for the unique relationship of the sovereign individual to his society:

The true [self-] interest is not merely the defense of particular ideas, but the defense of the process by which valid such ideas are generated, and their generation replicated by later generations. Since all ideas are produced by the sovereign, cognitive, creative powers of the individual mind, is it not the development of those minds, and the fostering of the process which their work represents, which is the true self-interest of every individual person? Is it not, then, the nurture of that individual quality in all persons, which is the duty impressed upon us by our receipt of the loan of mortal life? Is it not that which secures us a place in the simultaneity of eternity?- 20

A 'Mould' Cast by Beethoven and His Predecessors

The kernel of Brahms' musical puzzle lies in the interval pairs juxtaposed on the opening phrase "Dem dunkeln Schoss" [see: Figure 1 (page 1; page 2)(PDF version)]. Drawing our attention to this, Brahms directs all four voices (SATB) of the chorale to sing the interval pairs (a) in unison, and (b) with the same rhythm and directionality: upward a fifth, from D to A; up again by one step to B; then down a fourth, from B down to F(sharp). On the ascent, the tenor alone remains planted in the first register. The soprano, alto, and bass each and all rise into their respective middle registers. On the descent by a fourth, the bass falls back into the first register.

Most striking to our "inner ear" is that the opening statement counterposes a rising fifth interval against the descending fourth. This suggests a state of "incompleteness." Our mind demands elaboration, that more follow. Metaphorically, we hear the "uncertainty" concerning that which is yet to come.

Johannes Brahms

Implied in Brahms' initial hypothesis are counterposing inversions of harmonic divisions of D Major/D minor, D Major/B minor, C Major/C minor, G Major/G minor. Textbook musical theory might suggest only D Major as the home key of the composition. However, that assumption would completely ignore Brahms' dialogue with Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven on developing new principles of bel canto-anchored motivic thorough-composition. Intrinsic to this process is mastery of the principle of inversion as it relates to Mozart's and Beethoven's discovery and use of the "Lydian/major-minor mode." Neither Lydian, nor simply a combination of the major-minor mode with the Lydian mode, but an entirely new "mode" is conceived through integration of the Lydian interval. This interval now anchors the new major-minor "mode," which grows from its tonic in both directions by ascending and descending fifths. This new expression of the musical universe causes an elementary interval to adopt a quality of ambiguity, whereby it serves numerous functions simultaneously.

Close examination of the crux of Brahms' musical puzzle reveals that it derives from the composer's intense study of Beethoven's compositional method; in particular, an idea that emerges in seedling form in a series of Beethoven compositions spaning the years 1803-1806. Later, in 1812, this idea blooms forth as "the Beethoven revolution" in Motivführung with his Symphony No. 7 in A Major. 21 Unlike many of his contemporaries—Wagner, Liszt, and Bruckner—Brahms devoted his musical talent to furthering a truthful investigation of the principles that govern the musical universe we call the well-tempered domain of bel canto polyphony. Within this historically determined curvature of musical outlook, it was destined that Brahms' study of Beethoven's artistic genius should occur.

Pause now. Let us touch upon the relationship these Beethoven compositions have with Brahms' "Dem dunkeln Schoss." It was Beethoven's practice to design an array of musical "experiments," each of which simultaneously investigated the same idea, but from different perspectives. Alternating between work on each of the compositions, "... never writ[ing] a work continuously, without interruption. I am always working on several at the same time, taking up one, then another ...," is how Beethoven himself characterized his thought process. 22 Brahms adopted a similar approach to working through his musical ideas. Moreover, he immersed himself in study of the revolutionary compostitions of Bach and Mozart, even after having achieved social recognition as a composer. And, during the late 1850's to 1870's, he devoted a great deal of attention to studying the works of Beethoven. 23 (In fact, many Brahms biographers state that he designed a piano arrangement of Beethoven's Razumovsky Quartet No. 3, which composition was performed in 1867. Presently, this composition is considered "lost" and has not been located among Brahms works.)

Briefly. Hear the emergence of Beethoven's idea expressed in four distinct compositions, each of which kindles the pathway for Brahms' "Dem dunkeln Schoss," and his later revolutionizing of Beethoven's method of Motivfuhrung. For instance, in the main theme of Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72 [see: Figure 2], we hear the idea composed out of the key of C Major. Here the interval of the third is used as bridge between rising fifth and fourth intervals. This immediately is followed by a series of sequentially falling thirds which link descending fifths and fourths, respectively. After a brief pause, the third bridges its inverse, the sixth, with a rising fourth overlapped by a rising fifth. This is followed by the use of the fourth and sixth to link descending thirds. Variations on this process lead to the generation of an embedded Lydian interval: B[NATURAL]-F[NATURAL]. (Recall that Brahms implies this Lydian with the second of his opening interval pairs of "Dem dunkeln Schoss.") This Lydian is formed within the unfolding of the interval of a sixth. The process of generating overlapping fundamental singularities of change by means of the Lydian principle, recasts this interval as a higher-ordered singularity of change. This is energetically emphasized over the following fifteen measures. That Beethoven shouldered the responsibility to continue his predecessors' drive to increase the rate at which musical singularities could be introduced into a composition, enables him to deploy this increased power to generate an ever more complex universe of musical ideas per arbitrary unit of action. And, with the ambiguity of the whole process, he drives the development of the overture to its conclusion.

The opening intervals of Beethoven's Violoncello/Piano Sonata Op. 69 in A Major signal that the idea for Brahms' "Dem dunkeln Schoss" flowed directly from this work, in particular [see : Figure 3]. Unfolded through its opening 'cello passage are the rising fifth and descending fourth intervals employed in the opening of the Brahms choral. Beethoven scores the intervals in the bass voice out of the key of A Major, a fifth higher than Brahms' setting. Buried within the 'cello phrase inverting the first opening interval pair (A down to sustained E), and just prior to the piano's entrance, come the Lydian interval of the key of A Major: a[NATURAL] to d(sharp). The sonata's piano entrance generates the Lydian of D Major, d-g(sharp), the key of Brahms' choral. Meanwhile, the inverse relationship of the sixth and third play out in different voice registers. As well, Brahms quotes Beethoven verbatim as the canonical segment of his chorale begins to unfold [Figure 1 (page 1; page 2)(PDF version)], measures 16-19, soprano and tenor voices]. This work furthers the development process of the idea initiated with the Leonore Overture.

Beethoven discusses the same concept in two other musical environs: the Kyrie of his Mass in C, and the opening of his Symphony No. 7 in A Major. At the very start of both works, the idea progresses in its complexity more quickly than in the two previously mentioned works. Each work demonstrates Beethoven's increasing mastery of universal principles governing the multi-layered manifold of the bel canto-based well-tempered system. Beethoven generalizes all principled discoveries that preceded him, by treating the fundamental singularities of the system as universal characteristics which express its Oneness. Each new transformation allows us to hear an increasing density of multi-boundaries. This changes the way in which any single musical interval is "sounded"; even in repetition it is no longer the same, since all that surrounds it has changed. The context is new. Accordingly, Lyndon LaRouche has pointed out that Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 marks the composer's revolutionary advancement over the earlier discoveries of Bach, Mozart, and Haydn in this domain [see: Figure 4]. Compare, for example, the oboe and clarinet voices in this passage from Symphony No. 7, with the violoncello opening in the Op. 69 sonata in Figure 3. Also compare the sequences of rising and falling fourths in Beethoven's Mass in C, Op. 86 [see Figure 5].

Brahms melds the method of motivic thorough-composition, pioneered by Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven, with his own individualized approach to composition. In Brahms, each voice of the composition freely unfolds an independent solution, while across the voices the principle of inversion and the Lydian unify a multiplicity of solutions into One conception. The legendary violinist Norbert Brainin identifies the Beethovian curvature of this process: "In his late quartets, Beethoven writes a kind of four-voice counterpoint, in which the four voices are played or sung together, and yet each voice is treated entirely individually. ... The most important element in this regard is the motivic thorough-composition [Motivführung], because the motifs which Beethoven uses all come out of the piece itself, and are connected." 24

What is most significant about this group of Beethoven compositions is not that they reference the same intervallic relationships, or that each presents a similar idea. The more interesting and striking peal of these related works issues from the manifoldness of possible solutions they present to a single paradox. In this vein, the method by which they are composed reflects a cohering connection with the processes of mind out of which the the idea, itself, was conceived.

Bach to Brahms: Tribute to Creativity

In the Classical sense, all ideas, musical ones included, derive from a higher process, which presides "unheard" over the unfolding of the particulars and unit-idea of the entire conception. This subsuming process precedes the existence of the many transformations through which the germ-idea will unfold, note-by-note, word-for-word, to the listening mind. It presides over the idea's every moment. This higher process, hypothesizing the higher hypothesis, occurs within the sovereign region of Brahms' mind. From out of this "One," the Socratic puzzle flows, and it is this subsuming process which must govern the performance of the chorale prior to the first, and through to the last utterance of tones.

Although we perform the unit-idea in physical time from the beginning to the end, we know with our mind that the idea is actually generated from the future back to the present. In fact, the "incompleteness" at which the musical puzzle hints, urges that we proceed to the concluding section of the musical work, in order that our investigation may begin. 25

"In the twinkling of an eye," measure for measure, Brahms' elaborates a density of universal characteristics of the system: major third, minor third, fourth, fifth, sixths, the half-step, whole step. And, the Lydian interval. The concluding five measures are a truthful reproduction of Beethoven's method, as reconceptualized through the mind of Brahms [see Figure 6]. The original Beethovian paradox now in development is sung by Brahms' soprano. Within the bass part, transformed versions of Brahms' opening pairs appear in inversion both forward-reading and backward-, á là J.S. Bach [see: Figure 7]. Generated across the voices (in the same five measures), are the Lydian G-C(sharp) within the key of G Major, and C-F(sharp), C Major's Lydian. All of this develops intrinsic to the musical idea itself.

Rhythmically, in these concluding measures, Brahms' intervals have also evolved, beginning now on the downbeat. Although the metrical pattern partakes a little of that of the opening interval pairs, the conception now bursts forth in fewer tones (of longer duration) per measure, within and across voice parts. As if conveyed upon a soft breeze, we encounter our beautiful destiny ("zu schönerm Los," sung pianissimo). We are transported onto a "distant path of resolution," where a multitude of stated and implied musical characteristics reference each of the three modalities (minor, Lydian, and Major) simultaneously. Brahms creates a revolutionary realm, a new destiny for us.

The "unheard," that which is the generating principle (i.e., Brahms' thought processes) becomes the subject of development. The idea is cloaked in a hauntingly somber tenor which heightens as all but the soprano descend, remaining within the "dark" vocal register until the end. The generation of a more "extended" type of destiny (Los), a beautiful destiny (schönerm Los), is sustained over fewer and fewer notes; measure for measure, their duration increases.

With the form of the original idea and its emotional tension shifted in these concluding measures, a challenge to convey this profound difference arises for performers. To appreciate how this develops, let us skip a bit further back to a preceding phase of development [see: Figure 8]. A phase bridging the descent into the dark, holy earth, with the discovery of our beautiful destiny: we are grieving ("wir trauernd").

Brahms literally reaches into the grave to construct a path to the "beautiful destiny." A musical fragment of J.S. Bach's A Musical Offering, slightly altered, unfolds below the mournful phrases of the voices above. Bach's alto "comes alive" in its projection into the bass passage of Brahms' chorus [see: Figure 9]. Above this fragment, the mourning introduces all the elements of the characteristic features distinguishing the three modes from one another. Vertically across the voices, the entire hierarchy of Lydian intervals blooms forth. Still. As the wave of laments crescendoes, we discover that the registral changes of the soprano and tenor reach a high point, while reference is made to the only two Lydians appearing at the chorale's ending.

One pedagogical feature in this section is the canon-like entrances. This feature coupled with the more important emphasis upon inversion/registral differentiation across voice-species, is a tribute to Kappellmeister J.S. Bach, who pioneered many of the "ontological principles" of musical composition. With the tenor solo entrance a measure earlier, measures 17-19 begin a canon at the fifth (in inversion). With conscious reference to life proceeding from a pursuit of securing our individual place within the simultaneity of eternity ("Noch köstlicheren Samen bergen wir"), Brahms causes the future, past, and present to meet. Inversions of Beethoven's Op. 69 intervallic pairs, sung thirds apart by the tenor and soprano, sequentially, form an ambuguity of a higher sort, where these intervals serve many functions simultaneously. Transformed in this way, the effect is entirely distinct from the Beethovian pairs, the individual canonical entrance pairs, and the opening pairs of the entire "Dem dunkeln Schoss" [see: Figure 1 (page 1; page 2)(PDF version)]].

Amid these informed insights, we may now approach the idea of "mourning" from a higher summit. Referring back to Figure 8, as the tension peaks in its intensity, experience its extremes in the laments of the tenor and soprano.

"Wir trauernd" echoes across the voices. The tenor is the first to utter the phrase (piano). He stretches his initial "wir trauernd" across two vocal registers (from chest to middle) on an ascending fourth interval, a-e' [Figure 1 (page 1; page 2)(PDF version), measures 24-25]. This places his "lamenting" right on the edge of the upper registral shift (f(sharp)). Momentarily, less than two measures later, he "cries out" the phrase a third and final time. Only now, "wir trauernd" extends across three tenor registers. The last part of the phrase is sung in a dramatic tenor vocal-region, the "head," or third register [Figure 1 (page 1; page 2)(PDF version), measures 27-29]. Now, examine the soprano line [Figure 1 (page 1; page 2)(PDF version), measures 28-29]. See how the tenor's "lament" sounds sympathetically to the previous and third "cry" of the soprano. How she stretches it over two soprano voice-registers? Singing on the interval of a rising fifth? This mournful region represents the height of ambuguity within the entire composition: In what key(s)/mode(s) do we mourn? A type of eerieness permeates these six somber measures, where Bach's contribution is swept forward on a wave of change by Brahms.

Coupled with Schiller's text, such musical developments "cry out" to the listener, urging practice of Christian compassion, through deeds that find justice for the more than six million murdered Black Africans, or justice for the Serbian, the Albanian, or Iraqi citizen who finds his nation brutally bombed "back to the Stone Age." We are urged to summon within ourselves that quality of love characteristic of one whose life revolves around the performance of selfless, universal acts of kindness toward his fellow man. In this present civilizational crisis, witness the unyielding optimism Lyndon LaRouche manifests for awakening in each of us a universal and nobler personal identity. Let us, each and every one, join his march toward a Schillerian "Concordia" among the peoples and nations of the world!


 1. Johannes Brahms, "Dem dunkeln Schoss der heil'gen Erde," aus Schillers "Lied von der Glocke," für gemischten Chor (Posthumously published, 1927).

 2. Friedrich Schiller, "The Song of the Bell," trans. by Marianna Wertz, Fidelio, Winter 1995 (Vol. IV, No. 4).

 3. Helga Zepp LaRouche, "The Question of Motivic Thorough-Composition in Schiller's Poetry," Fidelio, Winter 1995 (Vol. IV, No. 4). Quoted liberally by the author in the section entitled "The Song of the Bell."

 4A Manual on the Rudiments of Tuning and Registration, Book I: Introduction and Human Singing Voice, ed. by Kathy Wolfe and John Sigerson (Washington, D.C.: Schiller Institute, 1992).

 5. "The Case of Classical Motivic Thorough-Composition" an Appendix to "The Substance of Morality" by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., compiled by Anno Hellenbroich et al., Fidelio, Winter 1998 (Vol. VII, No. 4), pp. 29-111.

 6. Friedrich Schiller, "Of the Aesthetic Estimation of Magnitude," trans. by Susan Johnson, in Friedrich Schiller, Poet of Freedom, Vol. II (Washington, D.C.: Schiller Institute, 1988).

 7. Friedrich Schiller, "Two Kinds of Action" trans. by William F. Wertz, Jr., in Friedrich Schiller, Poet of Freedom, Vol. I (New York: New Benjamin Franklin House, 1985).

 8. A useful example is presented in Mindy Pechenuk, "Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, Fidelio, Winter 1996 (Vol. V, No. 4).

 9. See footnote 3.

 10. Anno Hellenbroich, "Andreas Romberg's Musical Setting of 'The Song of the Bell,' " Fidelio, Winter 1995 (Vol IV, No. 4).

 11. Beethoven to Czerny, 1809, in Thayer's Life of Beethoven, rev. and ed. by Elliot Forbes (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967), vol. I, p. 472.

 12. Zepp LaRouche, op cit, p. 41.

 13German Lyrics and Ballads from Klopstock to Modern Times, ed. by Bert J. Vos and Preston A. Barba (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1925), p. 73 (lines 235-243).

 14. Trans. by Marianna Wertz, op. cit., p. 67.

 15. Trans. by William A. Wertz, Jr., in Friedrich Schiller, Vol. I, op. cit., p. 341.

 16. Trans. by William A. Wertz, Jr., in ibid., p. 316.

 17. See A Manual on the Rudiments of Tuning and Registration, Chap. 10: "Synthetic Geometry of Composition," op. cit., p. 173.

 18Ibid., p. 178.

 19. John Sigerson, private communication to author, April 1999.

 20. Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., "The Roots of Today's Mass Hysteria" Executive Intelligence Review, Nov. 6, 1998 (Vol. 25, No. 44).

 21. Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., "Food, Not Money Is Crisis,"Executive Intelligence Review, Nov. 13, 1998 (Vol. 25, No. 45), footnote 4.

 22. Beethoven letter to Medical Inspector Dr. Karl von Bursy, 1816, in Beethoven: The Man and The Artist, as Revealed in His Own Words, ed. by Friedrich Kerst and Henry Edward Krehbiel (New York: Dover Publications, 1964), p. 28.

 23. Malcolm MacDonald, Brahms, A Biography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993), p. 442.

 24. "As Free, As It Is Rigorous: Beethoven's Art of Four-Voice Composition," an interview with Prof. Norbert Brainin, Fidelio, Fall 1998 (Vol. VII, No. 3). "Norbert Brainin made chamber music history as first violinist of the unforgotten Amadeaus Quartet. This quartet's activities revolved around the works of Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and, especially Schubert. Following the death of the violist Peter Schlof in 1987, the Amadeus Quartet stopped giving concerts; its surviving members currently teach, and promote young quartets from around the world."

 25. Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., "The Essential Role of 'Time-Reversal' in Mathematical Economics," Fidelio, Winter 1996 (Vol. V, No. 4).


Lydian Interval

A singularity of great importance, the "Lydian" interval is the interval which divides the octave exactly in half. It is often misnamed the "devil's" interval, or tritone. From the standpoint of the diatonic scale in itself, it is also popularly described as an augmented fourth or diminished fifth.

The Lydian is the only interval which cannot be generated by the principle of inversion or complementary intervals within any given mode. This interval uniquely divides the octave exactly in half: that is, the interval from the tonic to the Lydian tone is the same amount of change as the interval from the Lydian tone to the octave. In the mode of C major/minor, for example, this corresponds to the interval between C and F#], which also corresponds to the physical singularity of the register breaks in the soparano and tenor singing voice. [figure (a)].

In the major/minor mode, the Lydian interval is a dissonance with respect to any given mode. For example, in the mode of C major/minor, the interval C-F# is such a dissonance. Yet,this Lydian interval has the unique property of being a pathway from one mode to the next, by way of the leadingtone of that next mode (F#-G in the modeof G major/Gminor)

The Major-Minor MODE

D major D major generates G Minor, by taking the same intervals of the D major ascending scale, and changing their direction.
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