You are on page 1of 4

A German Requiem (Brahms)

A German Requiem, to Words of the Holy Scriptures, Op. 45 (error: {{lang-xx}}: text has italic markup (help)) by Johannes Brahms, is a large-
Ein deutsches Requiem
scale work for chorus, orchestra, a soprano and a baritone soloist, composed between 1865 and 1868. It comprises seven movements, which
A German Requiem
together last 65 to 80 minutes, making this work Brahms's longest composition. A German Requiem is sacred but non-liturgical, and unlike a long
tradition of the Latin Requiem, A German Requiem, as its title states, is aRequiem in the German language. Choral composition by
Johannes Brahms

1 History
2 Text
3 Instrumentation
4 Structure
4.1 Movements
5 Composition
6 Critical reception
7 Versions and arrangements
8 Notable recordings
9 In other works
10 Notes
11 References
12 External links
The composer c. 1866
English A German Requiem, to
Words of the Holy
History Scriptures
Brahms's mother died in February 1865, a loss that caused him much grief and may well have inspired Ein deutsches Requiem. Brahms's lingering Full Ein deutsches Requiem,
feelings over Robert Schumann's death in July 1856 may also have been a motivation, though his reticence about such matters makes this nach Worten der heiligen
uncertain.[1] Schrift

His original conception was for a work of six movements; according to their eventual places in the final version, these were movements IIV and Catalogue Op. 45
VIVII.[2] By the end of April 1865, Brahms had completed the first, second, and fourth movements. The second movement used some previously Text from the Luther Bible
abandoned musical material written in 1854, the year of Schumann's mental collapse and attempted suicide, and of Brahms's move to Dsseldorf to Language German
assist Clara Schumann and her young children.[1]
Composed 18651868
Brahms completed all but what is now the fifth movement by August 1866.[3] Johann Herbeck conducted the first three movements in Vienna on 1 Movements seven
December 1867. This partial premiere went poorly due to a misunderstanding in the timpanist's score. Sections marked as pf were played as f or Scoring soprano baritone mixed
, essentially drowning out the rest of the ensemble in the fugal section of the third movement.[4] The first performance of the six movements choir orchestra
premiered in the Bremen Cathedral six months later on Good Friday, 10 April 1868, with Brahms conducting and Julius Stockhausen as the
baritone soloist.[3] The performance was a great success and marked a turning point in Brahms's career

In May 1868 Brahms composed an additional movement, which became the fifth movement within the final work. The new movement, which was scored for soprano soloist and choir, was first sung in
Zrich on 12 September 1868 by Ida Suter-Weber, with Friedrich Hegar conducting the Tonhalle Orchester Zrich. The final, seven-movement version of A German Requiem was premiered in Leipzig
agner and Franz Krckl.[3]
on 18 February 1869 withCarl Reinecke conducting the Gewandhaus Orchestraand Chorus, and soloists Emilie Bellingrath-W

Brahms assembled the libretto himself. In contrast to the traditional Roman Catholic
Requiem Mass, which employs a standardized text inLatin, the text is derived from the GermanLuther 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). Brahms was quite moved when he found out years later that Robert Schumann had planned a work of the same name.[1] German refers primarily to the language rather than the intended
" in menschliches Requiem" (A human Requiem).[5]
audience. Brahms toldCarl Martin Reinthaler, director of music at theBremen Cathedral, that he would have gladly called the work E

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 Beatitudes. This themetransition from anxiety to comfortrecurs in all the following movements except movements IV and VII,
the central one and the final one. Although the idea of the Lord is the source of the comfort, the sympathetic humanism persists through the work.

Brahms purposely omitted Christian dogma.[6] In his correspondence with Carl Reinthaler, when Reinthaler expressed concern over this, Brahms refused to add references to "the redeeming death of the
Lord", as Reinthaler described it, such as John 3:16. In the Bremen performance of the piece, Reinthaler took the liberty of inserting the aria "I know that my Redeemer liveth" from Handel's Messiah to
satisfy the clergy.[7]

In addition to soprano and baritone soloists and mixed chorus,A German Requiem is scored for:

woodwind: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons and contrabassoon (contrabassoon ad libitum)
brass: 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba
percussion: timpani
strings and harp (one part, preferably doubled)
organ (ad libitum)

Since Brahms inserted the fifth movement, the work shows symmetry around the fourth movement, which describes the "lovely dwellings" of the Lord. Movements I and VII begin "Selig sind" (Blessed
are), taken from the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount in I, from Revelation in VII. These two slow movements also share musical elements, especially in their ending. Movements II and VI are
both dramatic, II dealing with the transient nature of life, VI with the resurrection of the dead, told as a secret about a change. Movements III and V 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 IV and VII, 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).

The following table is organized first by movement, then within a movement by Bible quotation (where appropriate), which generally also causes a change in mood, expressed by tempo, key and
orchestration. The title of each movement is bolded. The choir is in four parts, with the exception of a few chords. The choir is not especially mentioned in the table because it is present throughout the
work. The translation is close to the original. Links to the King James Version of the Bible are supplied. Brahms marked some sections in German for tempo and character, trying to be more precise than
the common Italian tempo markings.
Title Solo Key Tempo Time Source Translation

I 0:00

Ziemlich langsam und mit Ausdruck Matthew

Selig sind, die da Leid tragen F major Blessed are they who bear suffering
(Rather slow and with expression) 5:4

Die mit Trnen sen, werden mit Freuden ernten D major They that sow in tears shall reap in joy
Selig sind, die da Leid tragen F major Blessed are they who bear suffering

II 0:00

Langsam, marschmig 3 1 Peter

Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras B minor 4 For all flesh, it is as grass
(Slow, like a march) 1:24
Etwas bewegter
So seid nun geduldig G major James 5:7 So be patient
(A bit more lively)
Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras B minor Tempo I For all flesh, it is as grass
1 Peter
Aber des Herrn Wort bleibet in Ewigkeit B major Un poco sostenuto But the Lord's word remains forever

Die Erlseten des Herrn werden wiederkommen Allegro non troppo The ransomed of the Lord shall return

Freude, ewige Freude Tranquillo Joy, eternal joy

III 0:00

Herr, lehre doch mich Baritone D minor Andante moderato Psalm 39:4 Lord, teach me

3 Psalm
Ach, wie gar nichts Baritone 2 Ah, how in vain
Ich hoffe auf dich D major Psalm 39:7 My hope is in you

4 Wisdom
Der Gerechten Seelen sind in Gottes Hand 2 The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God

IV 0:00

Mig bewegt 3 Psalm

Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen E major 4 How lovely are thy dwellings
(Moderately lively) 84:14

V 0:00

Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit Soprano G major John 16:22 You now have sadness

Ich will euch trsten I will comfort you
Sehet mich an Soprano B major Look at me
Ich will euch trsten I will comfort you
Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit Soprano You now have sadness
Ich will euch trsten G major I will comfort you

VI 0:00

Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Statt C minor Andante For here we have no lasting place

Siehe, ich sage euch ein Geheimnis Baritone F minor Corinthians Behold, I tell you a mystery
Denn es wird die Posaune schallen C minor Vivace 3 Corinthians For the trumpet will sound
Dann wird erfllet werden Baritone Corinthians Then shall be fulfilled
Der Tod ist verschlungen in den Sieg Corinthians Death is swallowed up in victory

4 Revelations
Herr, du bist wrdig C major Allegro 2 Lord, you are worthy

VII 0:00

Feierlich Revelation
Selig sind die Toten F major Blessed are the dead
(Solemn) 14:13

Ja, der Geist spricht, da sie ruhen A major Yea, the Spirit speaks that they rest
Selig sind die Toten F major Blessed are the dead

Notable orchestration devices include the first movement's lack of violins, the use of a piccolo, clarinets, one pair of horns, trumpets, a tuba, and timpani throughout the work, as well as the use of harps
at the close of both the first and seventh movements, most striking in the latter because at that point they have not played since the middle of the second movement.

A German Requiem is unified compositionally by a three-note motif of a leap of a major third, usually followed by a half-step in the same direction. The first exposed choral entry presents the motif in
the soprano voice (FAB). This motif pervades every movement and much of thethematic material in the piece.[8]

Critical reception
Most critics have commented on the high level of craftsmanship displayed in the work, and have appreciated its quasi-Classical structures (e.g. the third and sixth movements have fugues at their
climax). But not all critics responded favourably to the work. George Bernard Shaw, an avowed Wagnerite, wrote that "it could only have come from the establishment of a first-class undertaker." Some
commentators have also been puzzled by its lack of overt Christian content, though it seems clear that for Brahms this was a humanist rather than a Christian work.

Versions and arrangements

Brahms prepared an alternative version of the work 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.[9] 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.[10] This version of the
ersion" (German: Londoner Fassung).[11]
Requiem became known as the "London V

An arrangement by Barbara Buehlman forconcert band of the first movement, under the title "Blessed Are They", has been a standard part of that ensemble's literature for many years.

Notable recordings

In other works
A German Requiem inspired the titles of Jorge Luis Borges' 1949 short story "Deutsches Requiem" and Philip Kerr's 1991 novel A German Requiem.

The start of the piece's second movement, D

" enn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras" ("For all flesh, is as grass"), is used in the opening credits of the BBC documentary film series The Nazis: A Warning from
History, with various parts of this part of the movement being used for the closing credits.

7. McGrade, M., "'Blessed Are They That Mourn', Notes on Brahms'German Requiem",
1. Steinberg, 69. GoogleBooks partial preview(
"State of the Arts" (
(pdf)., p. 7. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
Retrieved 1 September 2011.
8. Steinberg, 7174
2. McCorkle, Margot L (1990). Bozarth, George S, ed.Brahms Studies: Analytical and
Historical Perspectives. Oxford: Clarendon. pp. 306307.ISBN 0-19-311922-6. 9. Swafford, Jan (1999). Johannes Brahms: a Biography. London: Macmillan. p. 311.
ISBN 0-333-59662-5.
3. Steinberg, 68
10. Musgrave, Michael (1987).Brahms 2: Biographical, Documentary, and Analytical
4. Thuleen, N. "Ein deutsches Requiem: (Mis)conceptions of the Mass."(http://www.nth
Studies. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 6.ISBN 0-521-32606-0. 1 September 2011.
11. "Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45 (London version)"(http://www.gramophone.
5. Steinberg, 70
net/Issue/Page/June%201997/92/824216/47)). Gramophone. Haymarket: 92. June
6. Zebrowski, A. "Brahms' German Requiem" ( 1997. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
s/ar-azeb.htm) Sunrise magazine. Retrieved 1 September 2011.

Geiringer, Karl; Irene Geiringer (1947).Brahms, his life and work. Da Capo Press. p. 92.ISBN 978-0-306-80223-2.
McGrade, Michael (2007). "'Blessed Are They That Mourn', Notes on Brahms' German Requiem", "State of the Arts" (pdf)., vol. 3, no. 2, Winter/Spring 2007, p. 7.
Musgrave, Michael (1996).Brahms, A German Requiem. Cambridge University Press.ISBN 978-0-521-40995-7.
Musgrave, Michael; Bernard D. Sherman (2003).Performing Brahms: early evidence of performance style . Cambridge University Press. p. 131.ISBN 978-0-521-65273-5.
Steinberg, Michael (2005). "Johannes Brahms:A German Requiem ..., Op. 45." Choral Masterworks: A Listener's Guide.[1] Oxford University Press.ISBN 978-0-19-512644-0
Thuleen, Nancy (1998)."Ein deutsches Requiem: (Mis)conceptions of the Mass."Website Article. 2 April 1998.
Van Camp, Leonard (2002).A Practical Guide for Performing, Teaching, and Singing the Brahms Requiem. Alfred Music Publishing.ISBN 978-0-7579-9859-1.
Zebrowski, Armin (2002)."Brahms' German Requiem"Sunrise magazine, August/September 2002, Theosophical University Press.

External links
Ein deutsches Requiem: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project(IMSLP)
Free scores of this work in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
Detailed listening guideusing the recording byCarlo Maria Giulini
Brahms's German Requiem: Promise Fulfilled. Emmeline Rushton's analysis, with discussion of the Schumann connection
Brahms's German Requiem, analysis by Armin Zebrowski

Retrieved from "


This page was last edited on 30 September 2017, at 20:34.

Text is available under theCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License ; additional terms may apply. By using this site, you agree to theTerms of Use and Privacy Policy.
Wikipedia is a registered trademark of theWikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.