“Lebewohl”: A Musical Motif for Peace

  • Ruth Morrow Bolin Distinguished Chair of Piano and Professor of Music Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas, USA


Music for human rights and social justice is very often a vehicle for words which then carry the lion’s share of the interpersonal and musical communication. Music for solo piano which heightens our awareness of human rights and social justice issues exists without words, relying on extramusical representations and symbols to create a bridge between the music and our perception of it. The first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 81a, “Das Lebewohl”, will be discussed for its symbolism of grief and farewell over the Archduke Rudolph’s forced exit from Vienna as Napoleon’s troops advanced, as will the first movement of Sonata “27 April 1945” of Karl Amadeus Hartmann, which uses Beethoven’s motif from the first movement of Op. 81a as a primary reference in his musical outpouring of grief towards the imminent deaths of “preventative detainees” from Dachau at the hands of the Nazis at the end of the Second World War. Through music’s connection to our nonverbal layers, these musical compositions can connect with our core selves, hold a mirror to our own belief systems and, if we are fortunate, bring us closer to peace.


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How to Cite
Morrow, R. (2017). “Lebewohl”: A Musical Motif for Peace. European Scientific Journal, ESJ, 13(10). https://doi.org/10.19044/esj.2017.v13n10p%p