bringing together all preceding rhythmic motives, concluding with a plagal cadence, looking back
to No. 1 and forward to No. 5.
The Romanze is unique in that there is no other short piece of Brahms bearing this title.
The term is used in his vocal works (Lieder und Romanzen Op. 33, 44, 75, 84, 93a) and the 2nd
movement of the Op. 51/1 C minor string quartet, implying a song-like piece, a quality which can
be associated only with the A section of 118/5. Of Schumann’s Three Romances Op. 28, only
the second one may have an affinity with Brahms’s work, which is not as passionate and fast
paced as the other two. It is noteworthy that this piece was titled Intermezzo before Brahms
decided to change to Romanze, maybe to draw attention to its Romantic character which might be
overshadowed by its Baroque form and techniques. If the holographs represent compositional
order, this was actually the last piano piece Brahms wrote (Cai, 1986: 357). This would not be
surprising, as his ultimate large-scale work for piano, the Handel Variations of 1861, had
Baroque affinities as well and represented Brahms’s appreciation of former masters, along with
his transformation of old forms into new. Similarly, the final works to be completed were the
Eleven Chorale Preludes for organ, his last homage to the past.
The ‘A’ section of the piece has a ground bass with a 4-bar chorale-like melody on top,
which is varied each time and enriched with passing notes, arpeggiation and different cadential
progressions, resembling a stately French variation-chaconne (Fig. 9). In spite of its seemingly
conventional phrase structure, the accent is placed on a different beat in each bar, either
rhythmically or harmonically, resulting in metric ambiguity and sometimes bearing a Sarabande-
like quality with a heavy second beat. The alternation of short-long rhythms becomes 3 long
notes with the hemiola in the 4th bar. The ‘B’ section is another set of variations over a constant
bass, this time in a 3rd-related key, D major, reached through the dominant of D minor from the