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Rudolf Mauersberger
1889 - 1971
R. Mauersberger
Rudolf Mauersberger (26/01/1889 - 22/02/1971), a German composer, organist and choirmaster; born in Mauersberg, died in Dresden, Germany.
Dresdner requiem
Composed in:1948
Musical form:free
Text/libretto:Bible verses and German translations of parts of the traditional liturgy
In memory of:the city of Dresden
Label(s):Carus 83.116
It fell to Rudolf Mauersberger to lead the Dresdner Kreuzchor for forty years, all but two of them under the dictatorships of Hitler and the East German government. To this ordeal was added the tragedy of the allied bombing of Dresden on February 13, 1945 which destroyed the city. Mauersberger's immediate response was the heartbreaking motet Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst, (How the city lays in ruins) to words from the Lamentations of Jeremiah. That the pain of this tragedy never left Mauersberger is evident in that he made the subsequent Dresdner requiem his life work that did not reach its final form until 1961. It is for soloists, 3 choirs, brass, percussion, double bass, celesta and organ.
Following the example of the Brahms Requiem, Mauersberger used applicable texts from scripture along with German translations of parts of the traditional liturgy. The work is scored for three choirs:
1) the main choir, the largest ensemble
2) an altar choir, a chamber choir (2-3 singers per part is my guess) which engages in liturgical maneuvers
throughout the performance, and
3) a distant choir, the voice of thedeparted.
Most of the work is sung a cappella, but a small ensemble consisting of organ, celeste, trombones, double basses and percussion is used occasionally, particularly in the "Dies irae" section. The interplay of these three choirs adds greatly to the poignant effect of this work. The texture is mainly homophonic with consonant harmonies, but with some dissonance in the "Dies irae".
"Agnus dei" section is an alto solo written for Peter Schreier whose distinguished career began with this choir as a child. The dark textures of the alto voice is well-suited to the solemn spirit of this concluding section. Throughout, the choir provides an aura of grief-stricken dignity and shows attention to the nuances of the music. The alto solo is sung very capably.
The applicability of this work for our time speaks for itself.
Author:Andrew Marr
The Kreuzkirche in
Dresden after the
bombing in Aug 1945