searching ethical idealism previously explored in his sacred choral works’ (MacDonald, 1990:
371), were completed in May 1896 and became the last works to be published during his lifetime.
The following chapters examine the late miniatures, with the exclusion of Op. 116, as
Dunsby (1983), Rink (1995) and others have already produced extensive studies about its ‘multi-
piece’ identity. (Further research (Cai, 1986: 269) has revealed that there were only five pieces
in October 1892, and Brahms had mentioned publishing three and then two, adding numbers 1
and 7 later, which suggests that the collection had not really started out as a cycle). The pieces
have been analysed in terms of form, motivic content and tonal structure, with the hope of
shedding some light on their relevance to and significance in Brahms’s output, and on any kind of
unity which may link the pieces, both locally, and across opuses. The study, in turn, aims to help
performance practice, and to suggest possible answers to related questions.