Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


School of Music

Committee Chair

Hope E. Koehler

Committee Member

Paul K. Kreider

Committee Member

McArthur Hambrick

Committee Member

Michael Vercelli

Committee Member

Travis Stimeling


This document aims to contribute research on the lesser known and under researched vocal works by Johannes Brahms, particularly his Fünf Ophelia Lieder. This song cycle, while not written to be performed on its own, originally, is a rich technical resource for beginning singers and advanced singers alike. Brahms wrote a simple melody with sparse accompaniment that really allows the performer to focus on language, technique, or dramatic interpretation. This document looks at Brahms’s setting of Ophelia’s mad scene through many different lenses including theoretical, by analyzing each song musically and dramatically, historical analysis of Hamlet and its many iterations, Brahms’s performance style and the common styles of the nineteenth century, and a comparison to the settings of Richard Strauss and Hector Berlioz’s settings of her mad scene and death. This research will aid performers in their pursuit of a complete performance and will hopefully begin to bring these songs into standard performance repertoire, as well as increase the research on Brahms’s lesser known art songs and cycles.

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