with the canon. The Intermezzo, although in a major key, has a feeling of melancholy and
resignation, caused by its strong subdominant emphasis, the weak cadences, delayed harmonic
resolutions on the second beat, and the series of descending thirds in the bass (motive x2 in Fig.
6) from F-sharp minor, through D major (both prominent keys in the piece) to B minor before the
arrival of the dominant and the conclusion of the A sections.
The Ballade has the most power and energy in the set, recalling in temperament the Op.
79 No. 2 Rhapsodie and the Op. 116 No. 3 Capriccio with the same key (G minor); and its central
section is reminiscent of the same section of the Op. 79 No. 1 Rhapsodie, both being in B major.
In fact, the piece seems closer to the character of a Rhapsody, and this is exactly what Brahms
had named it, before he decided on the title ‘Ballade’ (Parakilas, 1992:183). Although it has the
typical ternary form of the lyrical Ballade (shown in Fig. 7), it does not carry the same
characteristics of the much earlier Op. 10 Ballades (1854) with their hint of antiquity caused by
the open fifths and octaves, modal ambiguity, the narrative style and reflective characters (No. 3
is actually an Intermezzo). The Edward Ballade, the first of Op. 10, is different from the other
three, with its highly dramatic course and fiery middle section, and maybe it was this, along with
the chordal thematic material, which prompted Brahms to call the later one a Ballade as well.
The only part of Op. 118/3 which can be considered song-like is the middle section, but the
appearance of the main themes in two different characters (one forte and staccato, the other piano
and legato with pedal) carries the implications of a narrative dialogue, like the Op. 10/1, but this
time concerning one person, rather than two.
As a ballad tells the story of someone who provokes and receives justice in the end
(Parakilas: 35), the piece seems to be a continuous battle between the rebellious character of a
person and the distant voice of his conscience, which finally asserts itself. If we take imagination