Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem, op. 45) is a seven-movement musical work completed by Johannes Brahms in 1868. It is remarkable in part because, in terms of genre, it is actually not a mass, but an oratorio, and also in part because the composer wrote the work using German-language text, whereas previous masses were all written to Latin texts. The word 'ein' ('one') in the title can be construed as a forceful reference to the fact that the text is in German. The text was compiled ...by Brahms himself from various parts of the Holy Scriptures, including psalms, the gospels and the letters of the apostles and the prophetic books. In two instances, he even used apocryphal parts of the Bible. The attests to a profoundly felt faith, in which mourning and the pain of death are replaced by solace and the certainty of eternal life. The requiem's universal human validity and humanism, transcending religious denomination, rings out in the final line, a quote originating in the Book of Revelations: 'Yea [...] that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.' In other words: people are made immortal by their work and what they create.
The composer was scarcely 35 years old when he finished A German Requiem. Music historians generally agree that the shock Brahms experienced over the deaths of several people close to him played a crucial part in the creation of the work. He started composing the piece in 1856, around the time of the death of Robert Schumann, his former great advocate; the other tragedy was the death of his mother in 1865 - which is also woven into the piece's musical mood in the fifth movement.
Presented by: Dohnányi Orchestra Budafok, Müpa Budapest
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