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September of 1895, which, according to her daughter Eugenie Schumann, made both glow with

happiness (Swafford, 1997: 602). The miniatures could also very well have been inspired by

Clara’s beautiful and talented pupil, Ilona Eibenschütz, who in fact premiered them in London in

1894 (Swafford: 587).

Op. 118 is a much more heterogeneous entity, including a Ballade and a Romanze

alongside four Intermezzi, which although sharing the same title, are very different, both in their

character and the way they handle ternary form. The pieces are sophisticated experiments in

thematic transformation and developing variation, bearing Baroque traits and richer harmonic

language. Although similarities in compositional techniques and motivic characteristics can be

found among them, and the fact that the overall key scheme spans a tritone (from A to E-flat),

with paired keys (1 and 2, 4 and 5), suggesting some sort of larger tonal structure, these

miniatures seem to have been put together to form a balanced collection, rather than a multi-

piece. Brahms himself had said of Op. 118 and 119 that ‘the people will certainly be able to

ferret out their favourites’ (Brahms Briefe 12: 105) and they were rarely performed as complete

opuses in his time.7

The collection opens with a passionate Intermezzo of improvisatory quality, different in

character from the quiet ones of Op. 117. It is ambiguous in its opening tonality and assertive in

its refusal to settle into the tonic key of A minor through a conventional cadence. The theme is a

scalic segment ( and hence should be called a motive rather than a theme), which Brahms

manipulates in original and inverted forms, presenting it in augmentation at the final cadence

(shown in Fig. 5). The B section looks forward to 20th century music, with the same notes

presented as chords and as arpeggios. Thus, harmony becomes melody and vice versa. The

piece has a rounded binary form, both sections being repeated, concluding with a coda which is

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