Johannes Brahms • German Requiem
JOHANNES BRAHMS • A German Requiem, op. 45
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For his Deutsches Requiem, Brahms compiled the texts himself from the Luther translation of the Old and New Testament, without any thought of church liturgy at all. He considered the passages he selected not testimony of divine revelation, but documents of a poetic and symbolic character, and he interpreted them in a completely non-dogmatic way, beyond all denominational consi-derations. According to his personal creed – “Faith alone is nothing; giving away everything has no value; burning one’s body as a -martyr has no value either, only love matters!” – Brahms wrote this work as a consolation for the living, not – as the Catholic mass for the dead would have it – as a prayer for the souls of the departed, evoking the Christian idea of sacrifice.
On the backdrop of the dominating idea of transience, especially impressive in the choruses “Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras” (For all flesh, it is as grass) and “Denn es wird die Posaune erschallen” (For the trumpet will sound) with their glaring implacability and a realistic sound, “blessedness” and “redemption” are the much varied basic ideas of this requiem. “It is a formidable piece, gripping the entire being in a way that few other works do,” as Clara Schumann said.