Brahms composed his three intermezzos op 117 in 1892. He composed the intermezzi op 116 and 118, but this specific opus has the most dedicated intermezzi that he composed is an intimate compilation. They were inspired by a Scottish poem from Herder’s “Volkslieder”. 

Brahms Intermezzo op 117 No 2 B flat Horowitz Rec 195104:19

Brahms Intermezzo op 117 No 2 B flat Horowitz Rec 1951


Structurally this intermezzo number two has ternary form: A A’ BB’ C (A+B) A’’ A’’’ CODA. The beginning of the intermezzi is in B flat minor but Brahms started with a ii-i progression and for instance he suggests multiple tonal keys, we feel the ambiguity character of the tonality that goes in multiple directions overlapping. The rhythmic motive led by the arpeggiated octave which can be divided equally into tritons ex: dim 4th and augmented 5th which is an important element in terms of symmetry.The rhythmic motive led by the arpeggiated octave which can be divided equally into tritons ex: dim 4th and augmented 5th which is an important element in terms of symmetry. From the second measure to the 9th there is a important shift in the harmony with an extension in the cadence which is repeated after measure nine to the measure twenty second. Exactly in the measure 22 start the B section and ten measures after (32) is the B' stated which contains some variations of the B section for example the C-Db of the measure 24m get converted into Bb-Cb, C is converted in Cb and Ab is converted in A natural. In the C section there is a fusion of A and B sections. There are overlappings constantly and sequences that are shaping phrases chromatically from measure 39 to measure 42 this is clearly evident. By the measure 48 to the measure 51 there is dominant harmony as a base of the soprano descendent melodic line, this passage give pass to the recapitulation to the A section  in measure 51. The coda section begins in the measure 73 with a long dominant-tonic resolution featuring tonic, mediant and dominant functions at the same time.


The intermezzo number one of Brahms is in ternary form (ABA) in E flat major the section A and in E flat minor
Kempff - Brahms Intermezzo op.117 no05:04

Kempff - Brahms Intermezzo op.117 no.1 in E flat

the section B. In the first part there is a tranquillo atmosphere led by the peaceful rhythm, the flow of the melodic line and the contrapuntal texture. The first motive in this part is the descendant melodic passage, which is followed by the second motive, which will be present in the entire intermezzo Music of Latin America by Robin Moore. The harmony is based on a pedal in the base line (E flat) while the alto voice has the emotional charge because of the melodic line. The other voices are filling the harmony, which moves in chords. The 6/8-meter is the motor that gives soul to this piece. There is noticeable chromaticisms in this piece for example in the measure 7th. At measure 16 begins the transitional part until the measure 21, within this section the motive one is developed by Brahms in all voices and a modulation gives pass to the E flat minor tonality for the section B this part is a developer of the second motive of the first part (the first three notes of the second measure) the melodic line is led by the soprano voice instead in the alto voice like in the section A. The rhythm is more fluid than in the A section helped by the changes in the dynamic. In the measure 38 there is the closing section A and there is a return to the original key E flat major and the mood is returning too.  This section has two long phrases of eight measures long each, which are succeeded by four measures of a cadencial extension. As a contrast with the first A section here the melodic line in rolled chords accompany the soprano.


I choose this Brahm's Intermezzo to see how complex is to understand his piano pieces when you are playing some of those you can feel the improvisatory environment that cricumcice all his pieces and this particularity sometimes dismisses the complex themes, motives and harmonies. 

Works Cited:Edit

Cadwallader, Allen. "Schenker's Unpublished Graphic Analysis of Brahms's intermezzo op 117, no.2: Tonal Structure and Concealed Motivic Repetition." Music Theory Spectrum. Vol. 6 (1984): 1-13

"Brahms intermezzo op 117 No 2 B flat Horowitz Rec 1951." Uploaded by "Beckmesser2" on Sept 3, 2009.

"Kempff - Brahms Intermezzo op 117 no. 1 in E flat." Uploaded by "TheLeonardoSaez" on Sept 10, 2009.


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