Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

David Korevaar

Second Advisor

Jennifer Hayghe

Third Advisor

Steven Bruns

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


The use of musical ciphers has been well documented in Robert Schumann’s music, by the composer and musicologists alike. Similar encipherings, including SCHA (Schumann), Brahms (BAHS), and Chiarina (CHAA), have been discovered in Johannes Brahms’s music. Studies to date have focused primarily on Brahms’s chamber music, including the Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8 and the Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 60. This paper illuminates additional cipher material in Brahms’s later solo piano music, particularly in the 7 Fantasien, Op. 116.

Historical context provides motive for Brahms’s use of ciphers, including further cipher material in the 8 Klavierstücke, Op. 76. Brahms’s own intimate knowledge of Robert Schumann’s compositional style, as well as his access to the older composer’s writings and diaries provides a strong case for his likely use of ciphers.