Brahms German Requiem

Classical Music / Brahms Requiem 

Johann Brahms' A German Requiem, to Words of the Holy Scriptures, Op. 45 (German: ''Ein deutsches Requiem, nach Worten der heiligen Schrift''), is a large-scale work for chorus, orchestra, a sprano and a baritone, composed between 1865 and 1868. The work comprises seven movements, which last abot 65 to 80 minutes, considered Brahms' longest composition. A German Requiem is sacred but non-liturgical.

The libretto was assembled by Brahms himself. In contrast to the traditional Roman Catholic Requiem Mass which uses a standardized Latin text, this work is derived from the German Luther Bible.

Brahms's first known use of the title Ein deutsches Requiem was in an 1865 letter to Clara Schumann in which he wrote that he intended the piece to be "eine Art deutsches Requiem" (a sort of German Requiem). German refers mainly to the language rather than the intended audience. Brahms told Carl Martin Reinthaler, director of music at the Bremen Cathedral, that he would have called it "Ein menschliches Requiem" (A human Requiem).  Although the Requiem Mass in the Roman Catholic liturgy begins with prayers for the dead ("Grant them eternal rest, O Lord"),  A German Requiem focuses on the living, beginning with the text "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." from the Bible's Beatitudes. This theme, which transitions from anxiety to comfort, recurs in all the following movements except movements 4 and 7, the central one and the final one, although, the idea of the Lord is the source of the comfort, the sympathetic humanism persists through Brahms' A German Requiem.

Concerned over this, Brahms purposely omitted Christian dogma as he refused to add references to "the redeeming death of the Lord", (such as the ever-quoted John 3:16.  In recent years, in some performances, producers take liberty in inserting the aria from Handel's Messiah, to satisfy the clergy.

The details of the seven movements, instrumentation, and structure of Brahms German Requiem are not within the scope this post.  Refer below to my resource at Wiki.

Seven (7) Movements:

1. Selig sind, die da Leid tragen  (Blessed are they that Mourn)
2. Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie  Gras (For all flesh is a grass)
3.Herr, lehre doch mich  (Lord, let me know mine end)
4. Wie lieblich sind deine Wonungen  (How lovely are Thy tabernacles)
5. Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit  (And Ye now therefore have sorrow)
6. Denn wir haben hier keine bleibende Stadt  (For here we have no lasting city)
7. Selig sind die Toten  (Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord)

Video Credit:

Full length - Brahms' German Requiem (Ein Deutsches Requiem). YouTube, uploaded by WDR SinfonieOrchesterFreunde. Accessed April 10, 2017. For those interested, there's another video of Brahms Requiem I love listening to - here, with  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano; Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Philharmonia Chorus, Chorus master: Reinhold Schmid; Ralph Dowmes: organ; Philharmonia Orchestra-Otto Klemperer, conductor-1961... and another performance, with Claudio Abbado conducting Berlin Philharmonic, Barbara Bonney, soprano;  Bryn Terfel, baritone. Berlin Philharmonic.Accessed 10 April 2017.

History and Critical Analysis of Brahms German Requiem:

Brahms German Requiem - History and Scholarly Criticism by Nancy Thuleen.

(added 8 February 2019)

It's 'house music' from another age with an intimate arrangement for voices and piano duet of Brahms's deeply personal German Requiem. 

The Sydney Philharmonia Choirs - Symphony Chorus  presents Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem for it's first 2019 offering: "An Intimate Evening with Brahms" conducted by Simon Halsey. Emma  Pearson, soprano. Sam Roberts-Smith, baritone. Marlowe Fitzpatrick, piano. Claire Howard Race, piano.  Friday 8 February, 7pm, Sydney City Recital Hall.  


A German Requiem (Brahms).

Originally written for in 2009, updated 21 July 2015. Latest update, 8 February 2019. / Tel.

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