A German Requiem (Brahms) – HMB145
Full Score Only. Instrumentation Available (Hmb145b):
Picc, 2Fl, 2Ob, 2CL, 2Bsn, Contra Bsn, 4Hn, 2Tpt, 3Tbn, Tuba,
Violin I-II, Viola, Cello, Contra Bass, 2Hp, 3Timp, Organ,
String Count (12,12,8,6,4) Included In Instrumentation.
Regarding The Harp, Brahms Specifically Stated: “At Least Doubled”
This Set Of Orchestra Parts Includes Two For The Harp.
Although The Standard String Set Of Parts Is (12,10,8,6,4), Brahm’s
Scoring For Violin II Indicates It Should Be Of Equal Strength
With Violin I. Therefore, Two Additional Violin II Parts Are
A German Requiem (Brahms)
“A German Requiem” by Johannes Brahms is an extended work published in 1989 by Hinshaw Music, edited by Lara Hoggard and is suitable for medium advanced choirs.
Overcome with grief, it is speculated that Johannes Brahms began penning one of the most celebrated works of his career, “A German Requiem,” immediately following the death of his beloved mother in 1865. This extended choral work debuted as a smaller version in 1867 and subsequent revisions through 1869 led to the musical masterpiece we know today.
In his oeuvre, Brahm’s requiem is both his longest piece and it utilizes more musicians than any of his other works. It is also one of Brahms’ compositions that most clearly shows his influences; it contains various moments that unmistakably recall the music of Schumann, Beethoven, and Bach. While the influence is noticeable and present, every measure is distinctly Brahms.
In contrast to traditional requiems, which provide prayers for the souls of the deceased, many have observed that Brahms’ German Requiem is more focused on providing solace to the living. He implied that he wanted to convey this consolation to all listeners, regardless of their personal religious views or backgrounds, when he said, “I would very gladly omit the ‘German’ as well, and simply put ‘of Mankind’.”
A German Requiem, or Ein deutsches Requiem, by Johannes Brahms is seven movement large-scale composition for chorus, orchestra, and soprano and baritone soloists. In contrast to the lengthy tradition of the Latin Requiem, A German Requiem is a Requiem in the German language as its title indicates. It is religious but not liturgical.
Opening movement includes divisi violas and cellos provide the piece’s opening timbre, which leads to the chorus’s opening line, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” It then develops into a lyrical, soft expression of comfort utilizing numerous unaccompanied choral sections.
An unearthly funeral march in 3/4 time opens the second movement. The chorus speaks of somber reflection on the vainness of all things temporal as it sings, “all flesh is as grass.” This quickly develops into a momentous proclamation that unleashes the full might of the gathered forces. The march comes to an end with the daring declaration, “Yet the word of the Lord stands for evermore.” Particularly when the chorus chants the word “Freude”—”Joy,” the music assumes a heroic tone reminiscent of the “Ode to Joy” climax of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
The third movement transitions into a Schumannesque style beginning with a bass-baritone solo in which he begs the Lord to “teach me that I must have an end, and that my life has a purpose,” a request that is later repeated by the chorus. As the chorus cries out, “Now, Lord, how shall I find comfort?” the melody becomes more powerful. The chorus says, “The righteous souls are in God’s hand, and no torment touches them,” which appears to provide an answer to the question as the tension is resolved solidly and consistently from the bass pedal.
The unhindered tenderness and beauty of this fourth movement have made it a beloved and frequently quoted section of the requiem. The chorus appeals to heaven, “How lovely are your dwellings,” offering a reprieve from the melancholy ideas of the previous movements. More elaborate independent melodic lines alternate within the waltz-like melody.
A song for soprano, chorus, and orchestra in the fifth movement is one of the most intimate and heartfelt as Brahms undoubtedly connected the soprano solo’s maternal nature to his mother. She sings “You now have sorrow, but I will see you again,” to which the chorus responds “Thee I will comfort as one whom a mother comforts.”
In the sixth movement, the chorus portrays the role of souls anticipating resurrection in a momentous vision, which counterbalances the emotion of the second. A stirring chorus that begins with “For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible” followed by a intriguing bass-baritone-featured introduction. The chorus’s triumphant rendition of “Death, where is your sting? Hell, where is your triumph?” followed by an impressive interweaving vocal praising God.
The requiem ends peacefully with this final movement. At the conclusion, the same music that accompanied the opening line “Blessed are those who mourn” is played again, this time setting the line “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”
Related Music Arrangements
A requiem is essentially a prayer for rest, usually for those who have passed away. Dan Forrest, however, uses his five movements in “Requiem for the Living” to convey a story that is equally as much for the living and their personal struggle with sorrow as it is for the deceased.
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