Brahms was extremely fond of Johann Gottfried Herder's folk poetry collection Stimmen der Völker in Liedern (Voices of Nations in Songs) and based the Ballade, Op. 10, No. 1 on the 'Edward' ballade from this poetry collection. The remaining three Ballades of Op. 10 have no direct reference to the performer to develop a greater understanding of the individual pieces and their relationship to each other when performed as a set.