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Johannes Brahms
1833 - 1897
Germany
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J. Brahms
Johannes Brahms (07/05/1833 - 03/04/1897), a German composer. He was born in Hamburg, the son of a double-bass player and his older seamstress wife, Brahms attracted the attention of Schumann, to whom he was introduced by the violinist Joachim, and after Schumann's death he maintained a long friendship with his widow, the pianist Clara Schumann, whose advice he always valued. Brahms eventually settled in Vienna, where to some he seemed the awaited successor to Beethoven. His blend of classicism in form with a romantic harmonic idiom made him the champion of those opposed to the musical innovations of Wagner and Liszt. In Vienna he came to occupy a position similar to that once held by Beethoven, his gruff idiosyncrasies tolerated by those who valued his genius.
Ein Deutsches Requiem
Period:Romanticism
Composed in:1868
Musical form:free
Text/libretto:German Bible verses
Duration:76'14''
In memory of:the composer's mother? / dedicated to: the whole of humanity
Label(s):Naxos 8.550213
Phillips 446 581-2
Brilliant Classics 99474
Orfeo C 039 101 A
Non-liturgical but related to the requiem mass are the numerous so-called German Requiems and other compositions bearing in some form the title "Requiem". Composers such as Schütz, Praetorius, Thomas Selle, Michael Haydn, Schubert, J.I. Müller, C. Bütner, J.F. Fasch and Brahms contributed to this category. These German Requiems may derive their texts from the Lutheran Bible, as Brahms's did, of from a variety of Protestant liturgical sources and ceremonies.
Author:James W. Pruett
Source:The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians
Brahms's selection of the texts for the seven movements of Ein Deutsches Requiem (opus 45) reflects his lifelong familiarity with scripture and his ability subtly to inflect it to meet his own needs. Drawing upon Luther's translation of the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha, he assembled what amounts to an independent poetic narrative that moves from the grief of the bereaved to the consolation offered by the promise of resurrection. At the same time, he effectively reinterprets Christian theology, making no reference to Christ himself or to God's wrath on the Day of Judgment, and repositioning the idea of resurrection as an all but inconceivable change of being rather than as a literal bodily return.
The structure of the whole, then, resembles a great arch, with the fourth-movement vision of eternity as the keystone, while the tonality from movement to movement (and within the individual movements) follows a continually brightening course, shifting from the minor mode to the major, or from flatter, darker keys to sharper, brighter ones. In this respect, too, Brahms displays his grasp of his artistic inheritance, and again the bequest comes from Bach. In the great cycles of his Leipzig cantatas, Bach frequently put tonal relationships to theological ends, constructing what scholar Eric Chafe has described as "tonal allegories" that brought his compositions for the weekly Lutheran service into conformity with the concerns addressed by the Church calendar. Brahms adopts Bach's strategy to his own ends, constructing a musical framework that evades denominational particularity in favor of a more personal vision that, by virtue of the humanity and generosity of the visionary, aspires to the universal.
Author:David Isadore Lieberman
Brahms's non-liturgical German Requiem (1857–68) is unified by the close relationship between its musical concept and its text, which the composer himself compiled from the Lutheran Bible. A source of inspiration may well have been the funeral music by Schütz, a composer Brahms is known to have admired, though, as his contemporaries remarked, his textual mosaic lacks the specifically Christian dimension of the earlier work.
Author:Steven Chang-Lin Yu