Wiegenlied (Brahms)

Johannes Brahms' Wiegenlied ("Guten Abend, gute Nacht"), frequently referred to in English as Brahms's Lullaby or Cradle Song, is the composer's Op. 49, No. 4, originally written for voice and piano, published in 1868.

Composition and premiere

The Lullaby was dedicated to Brahms's friend, Bertha Faber, on the occasion of the birth of her second son. Brahms had been in love with her in her youth and constructed the melody of the "Wiegenlied" to suggest, as a hidden counter-melody, a song she used to sing to him.[1] The lullaby was first performed in public on 22 December 1869 in Vienna by Louise Dustmann (singer) and Clara Schumann (piano).[2][3]


The lyrics of the first verse are from the collection of German folk poems, Des Knaben Wunderhorn[1] and the second stanza was written by Georg Scherer (1824–1909) in 1849.

Brahms version

Guten Abend, gut' Nacht,
mit Rosen bedacht,
mit Näglein besteckt,
schlupf unter die Deck':
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will,
wirst du wieder geweckt.

Guten Abend, gut' Nacht,
von Englein bewacht,
die zeigen im Traum
dir Christkindleins Baum:
schlaf nun selig und süss,
schau im Traum 's Paradies.

Literal translation

Good evening, good night,
With roses covered,
With cloves adorned,
Slip under the covers.
Tomorrow morning, if God wills,
you will wake once again.

Good evening, good night.
By angels watched,
Who show you in your dream
the Christ-child's tree.
Sleep now blissfully and sweetly,
see the paradise in your dream.



In 1922, Australian pianist and composer Percy Grainger arranged the Wiegenlied as one of his "Free Settings of Favorite Melodies" for solo piano. This study was characterized by much use of suspensions and arpeggiation, with the first statement of the melody placed in the tenor range of the keyboard. This last practice was a favorite one of Grainger.[4]

Cultural references

A 1936 biographical film of Brahms with Albert Florath as the composer, took its title from the opening lines of this song, Guten Abend, gute Nacht.[5]

Wendy Cope's poem "Brahms Cradle Song" refers to this song.[6]


Recordings include


  1. Swafford, Jan (1999). Johannes Brahms: A Biography. Random House of Canada. p. 338. ISBN 978-0-679-74582-2.
  2. McCorkle, Margit L. (1984). Johannes Brahms. Thematisch-bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis. Munich: Henle. p. 197. ISBN 3-87328-041-8.
  3. Opus 49, Fünf Lieder für eine Singstimme und Klavier
  4. Ould, 5.
  5. Guten Abend, gute Nacht on IMDb
  6. Family Values by Wendy Cope – review, The Guardian, 23 April 2011, accessed 3 November 2018.
  7. https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/elisabeth-schumann-sings-brahmsschumann-lieder
  8. https://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.111099
  9. "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  10. "Frank Sinatra Discography". jazzdiscography.com. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  11. https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/lehmann-complete-1947-and-1949-recordings
  12. Crossland, Ken (2013). Late Life Jazz – The Life and Career of Rosemary Clooney. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-19-979857-5.
  13. The Essential Canon of Classical Music
  14. "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  15. http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=17147
  16. D. K (October 2013). Music: The Definitive Visual History. ISBN 9781465421265.
  17. "Gramophone Classical Good Guide"
  18. "All Music Guide to Classical Music: The Definitive Guide to Classical Music"
  19. "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  20. Brahms Lieder, review by Richard Wigmore, Gramophone


  • Ould, Barry Peter, Notes for Hyperion CDA67279, Percy Grainger: Rambles and Reflections – Piano Transcriptions, Piers Lane, piano.
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