Monday, 10 December 2018

Spirit that inspired Brahms

ONE of the nation’s best-loved pieces of choral music is to be performed at Queen Anne’s School next Saturday, writes Lesley Potter.

Brahms’ German Requiem, which will be sung by Reading Bach Choir, reveals the 19th century composer’s firm foundation in the music of the past.

Although the requiem mass in the Roman Catholic liturgy begins with prayers for the dead — “Grant them eternal rest, Oh Lord,” — this particular work focuses on the living, beginning with the text “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.”

This theme of transition from anxiety to comfort recurs. Although the idea of the Lord is the source of comfort, the sympathetic humanism persists throughout the work. Although many great choral works were inspired by feelings of spirituality and religious belief, it is thought that Brahms’ requiem is humanist rather than Christian.

This work was the composer’s first great success. The soprano solo writing is full of tenderness and sorry, prompted by his mother’s death in 1865.

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