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Analysis on text-music relationship of Mozart’s Das Veilchen

Updated: 4 days ago


Mozart: Das Veilchen

“Ein Veilchen auf der Wiese Stand” is one of the Goethe’s early poems in his first Singspiel, Erwin und Elmire. The poem is about the need of human comfort of beloved, and the dichotomous of love. The pain of love was then released by the peaceful death of the violet. The violet is unpretentious, unknown and lovely, but it cannot be noticed because of its featureless outlook. It first experienced the joy of the yearning of love, which is the longing of the care of the shepherdess. Goethe then portrays the pain of love with an elegant and pastoral language. The little violet gains its fulfillment when it dies.

Poetic Persona

A narrator and the little violet speak alternatively in the poem. The narrator speaks outwardly to the audiences in the first and last stanzas and the little violet speak inwardly to itself in the second stanza.

The first stanza introduces the two characters and the setting: the violet and the shepherdess on grassland. The narration is set up on G major. It develops at line 4 and reaches D major at the end of the first stanza.

There is a four-measure piano interlude joining the two stanzas, which represents the song of the shepherdess. The violet is now the protagonist, speaking out the its craving for attention. Mozart establishes this change of role by setting the whole stanza on a contrasting G minor key.

The narrator pronounces the defeat of the violet in the last stanza. The music oscillates between Eb major and C minor and finally ends on the tonic key. After this sorrowful ending, the violet came to a peaceful death with satisfaction.

Apart from the key change, the different use of colors of the vowels also help to build up the mood of the song. A series of dark vowel sounds are used in the despairing last stanza:

Ach! aber ach! das Mädchen kam

Und nicht in acht das Veilchen nahm,

Ertrat das arme Veilchen.

Es sank und starb und freut' sich noch:

Poetic Meter

Stanza 1

(1) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4]

(2) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4]

(3) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [3]

(4) ˘ ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4] (anapest)

(5) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4]

(6) ˘ / ˘ / [2]

(7) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [3]

Stanza 2

(1) / / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4] (spondee)

(2) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4]

(3) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [3]

(4) ˘ ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4] (anapest)

(5) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4]

(6) ˘ / ˘ / [2]

(7) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [3]

Stanza 3

(1) / / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4] (spondee)

(2) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4]

(3) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [3]

(4) ˘ ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4] (anapest)

(5) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [4]

(6) ˘ / ˘ / [2]

(7) ˘ / ˘ / ˘ / [3]

The lines are concocted of mostly tetrameter, also dimeter and trimeter, and patterned by iambics. There are two kinds of substitutions in the poem: anapest and spondee. Anapests are inserted between line 3 and 4 of all three stanzas to speed up the pace of the poem. On the contrary, spondees are added to slow down the move, at the beginning of the second and third stanzas.

The piece starts with an 8-measure instrumental introduction, which established the melody of the first 3 lines of the first stanza. Voice starts delivering the text at measure 9 and stops at the first cadence at measure 14. This is where the first anapest occurs, and Mozart brings off this slow down by a complete stop at the perfect cadence. Mozart treats the other two anapests the same way at measure 24 and 51, but on a half cadence.

The first stanza commences with iambic while the other two stanzas beings with spondees. Mozart responds to these substitutes by using two different rhythmic patterns. The iambic emergence is an eighth note on a weak beat, while the other two spondees are on a “quarter-dotted eighth-sixteenth” pattern. This creates a push back musically, which matches the slow down in the poetic meter that Goethe creates.

Poetic Form: formal divisions

Mozart’s music expresses the formal divisions of the poem. There are 3 seven-line stanzas. In each stanzas, line 1 and 2, and line 4 and 5 are two rhymed couplets. All lines are end with strong ending except line 3. Mozart treated the rhymed couplets as one musical phrase. They are connected closely together rhythmically and harmonically except line 1 and 2 in the third stanza. “Ah! but ah! the maiden came, and not pay attention to the little-violet. ”A one-measure instrumental break is placed in between the two lines to generate a hesitation at the end of the longing.


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