Sunday, December 21, 2014

Johannes Brahms and Ein Deutsches Requiem

Ein Deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms

Our next  work: See upcoming events  for rehearsal,membership and concert details

From Wikipedia:

Brahms' large choral work A German Requiem is not a setting of the liturgical Missa pro defunctis but a setting of texts which Brahms selected from the Luther Bible. The work was composed in three major periods of his life. An early version of the second movement was first composed in 1854, not long after Robert Schumann's attempted suicide, and this was later used in his first piano concerto. The majority of the Requiem was composed after his mother's death in 1865. The fifth movement was added after the official premiere in 1868, and the work was published in 1869.]Since Brahms inserted movement 5, the work shows symmetry around movement 4, which describes the "lovely dwellings" of the Lord. Movement 1 and 7 begin "Selig sind" (Blessed are), taken from the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount in 1, from Revelation in 7. These two slow movements also share musical elements, especially in their ending. Movements 2 and 6 are both dramatic, 2 dealing with the transient nature of life, 6 with the resurrection of the dead, told as a secret about a change. Movements 3 and 5 are begun by a solo voice. In the third movement, the baritone requests "Herr, lehre doch mich" (Lord, teach me); the choir repeats his words several times, making the personal prayer more general. In the fifth movement, the soprano and chorus sing different text, corresponding to each other. As opposed to Baroque oratorios, the soloists do not sing any arias, but are part of the structure of the movements. Almost all movements, with the exception of 4 and 7, connect different Bible verses, which lead from suffering and mourning to consolation. The very last word of the work is the same as the first: "selig" (blessed).
Versions and arrangements

An alternative version of the work was prepared by Brahms to be performed as a piano duet with four hands on one piano. This version also incorporates the vocal parts, suggesting that it was intended as a self-contained version probably for at-home use. However, the vocal parts can also be omitted, making the duet version an acceptable substitute accompaniment for choir and soloists in circumstances where a full orchestra is unavailable.

The piano duet accompaniment was based on an 1866 arrangement for piano of the six-movement version of the Requiem, which Brahms revealed to Clara Schumann at Christmas of that year. The alternative version was used, sung in English, for the first complete British performance of the Requiem (complete except for the fifth movement, which in 1866 had not yet been written). This took place on 10 July 1871 in London, at the home of Sir Henry Thompson and his wife, the pianist Kate Loder (Lady Thompson). The pianists were Kate Loder and Cipriani Potter. This version of the Requiem became known as the "London Version" (German: Londoner Fassung).

When sung in English, it is still called "A German Requiem".