Two Songs, Op.91, by Johannes Brahms
Transcribed for Clarinet by John W. Pratt (part originally for viola)
Clarinet Part, PDF $5.99
The two chamber music songs of Brahms' Zwei Gesänge, Op.91 were composed specifically for his dear friends, the violinist/violist Joseph Joachim and the mezzo-soprano Amalie Schneeweiss, who were married in 1863. The songs (for alto, viola, and piano) were written over 20 years apart, but Brahms published them together as Op.91 in 1884.
"Gestillte Sehnsucht", which appears first in the Op.91 pairing, was actually written second, in 1884. The song sets the text of the poem by Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866). "Gestillte Sehnsucht" is a nature poem, filled with images of forests at sunset, gentle breezes, and twittering birds. Rückert is famous not only for his exquisite poems themselves but also for the great inspiration his work provided to numerous prominent composers, in addition to Brahms. "Geistliches Wiegenlied" (Sacred Cradle Song) was first composed in 1863-1864, and later revised. The viola opens with the melody of the medieval Christmas carol "Joseph, lieber Joseph mein." The singer has her own variation of the melody, and enters after the first stanza of the viola's carol. The song is a beautiful cradle-rocking lullaby, in 6/8 time.
It is said that the viola was Brahms' favorite stringed instrument, and the composer gave the viola a major role in both of these songs, allowing it to open both pieces before the singer enters. Clarinetists have long coveted these viola parts, and various performances have provided clear evidence that a successful outcome can be achieved with the substitution of a clarinet for the viola in Op.91. So when a clarinetist friend of ours asked us to create a transcription for him, we gladly obliged. Our edition of the clarinet part adapts the first song, "Gestillte Sehnsucht", for clarinet in A, and the second, "Geistliches Wiegenlied", for clarinet in Bb. The original piano score and voice part are in the public domain, readily available as free PDF downloads from IMSLP.org.
Clarinet part, 4 pages; Total, 8 pages.