WoO 135: Die laute Klage

Beethoven wrote Die Laute Klage (The Loud Complaint) probably near the end of his second period. For the text he used a poem by Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), who was also a theologian, philosopher and critic. Herder was generally viewed as the leading proponent of the Sturm und Drang movement in literature.

Beethoven's sense of drama in the song sounds musically much in the Sturm und Drang vein. Had Herder lived to hear it, he would likely have found it satisfying. The tempo is slow, the mood serious and the expressive nature clearly looking toward the Romantic movement. While the music is clearly recognizable as Beethoven's, it may sound somewhat alien to those generally unfamiliar with his vocal works. It might even be mistaken for Brahms, especially in some of the piano writing. The mood is almost funereal, though the theme is passionate and beautiful.

In short, the work is stylistically rich, finely crafted and should appeal to most listeners. Apparently, however, Beethoven himself was not fully convinced by his effort here, since he did not seek publication of the song during his lifetime.

(Robert Cummings, Rovi, answers.com)

Die laute Klage (Johann Gottfried Herder, 1744-1803)

Turteltaube, du klagest so laut
Und raubest dem Armen seinen einzigen Trost,
Süßen vergessenden Schlaf.
Turteltaub', ich jammre wie du,
Und berge den Jammer in's verwundete Herz,
In die verschlossene Brust.
Ach, die hart verteilende Liebe!
Sie gab dir die laute Jammerklage zum Trost,
Mir den verstummenden Gram!