Johannes Brahms composed the Alt-Rhapsodie in September of 1869 as a wedding gift to the daughter of his close friend and confidant, Clara Schumann. The Alt-Rhapsodie is set to several verses of a poem by Goethe, Harzreise in Winter (Winter Journey Through the Harz Mountains). In the poem the poet meets a recluse who wallows in self-pity and loneliness. It is considered one of Goethe's darkest poems. Several writers have expressed the opinion that Brahms projected elements of his own character onto the persona of the recluse.