CHORAL 9 – Brahms

Brahms in 1853

The composer entitled this work Ein deutsches Requiem, nach Worten der heiligen Schrift/A German Requiem, to Words of the Holy Scriptures. Unlike the Requiems of Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, Fauré et al., Brahms doesn’t set the Latin text of the Catholic liturgy but, being a north German Protestant, he uses words he has chosen himself from Martin Luther’s vernacular translation of the Bible – hence the ‘German’ part of A German Requiem

It was his grieving over his mother’s death in 1865 that prompted the work, but an additional motivation was his longstanding desire to commemorate the tragic death of his friend and mentor Robert Schumann in 1856.

While the Catholic Requiem focusses mainly on the dead and their journey through resurrection and judgement to salvation or damnation, it is the grief of the living bereaved that Brahms’ work seeks to assuage – it opens Selig sind, die da Leid tragen/Blessed are they that mourn…

In its final version – there were a number of revisions – the seven movement work demonstrates an interesting mirrored symmetry with movements 1 and 7, 2 and 6, 3 and 5 each showing a close relationship and movement 4 forming a central pivot point:

I 0:44 Selig sind, die da Leid tragen/
Blessed are they that mourn
II 12:05 Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras/
For all flesh, it is as grass
III 27:08 Herr, lehre doch mich/
Lord, teach me
IV 37:06 Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen/
How beautiful are thy dwellings
V 42:36 Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit /
You now have sadness
VI 49:29 Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Statt/
For here we have no abiding city
VII 1:00:49 Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herren sterben/
Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord

Vocal Score (in English)

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