Ludvig van Beethoven - An die ferne Geliebte

Beethoven's only song cycle was the precursor of a series of followers. The text was written by a physician named Alois Isidor Jeitteles, probably at Beethoven's request. In these poems the distance from the beloved is greater, the longing is more intense and stormier, and is no longer satisfied with merely the sound of her name, but is preoccupied with the clawing pain of separation which colours the whole surrounding landscape.

Max Friedlaender regarded the entire composition as autobiographical in meaning, and the subject of the composer's longing to be none other than the unsterbliche Geliebte, the Immortal Beloved of his letters of July 1812. The whole sequence is through-composed, so that none of the songs stands alone. The different moods of the six episodes are expressed in different key and time signatures, working from E-flat major in the first song through G major (and briefly C major) in the second to A-flat major in the third and fourth, and thence back through C to E flat. With their underlying thematic linkage, each of the songs is carried without break into the next: a short bridge passage connects 2 and 3, and the last note of 3 is held through the first three bars of the accompaniment to 4 and proceeds into Diese Wolken almost without a breath. The final strophes of 4 have an accelerando leading directly into the vivace of 5.

From A Masters Recital - Live - Tucson, AZ