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Semyon Bychkov conducts Brahms

Rudolfinum: Dvořák HallAlšovo nábřeží 12, Prague, Central Bohemian Region, Praha 1, Czech Republic
2021 June 17, 18, 19 at 19:30
Performers
Czech Philharmonic
Semyon BychkovConductor
Chen ReissSoprano
Boris PrýglBass-baritone
Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno
Petr FialaChoirmaster / chorus director

Brahms’s German Requiem is a deeply personal work. He began contemplating it already in 1854, when his friend Robert Schumann attempted suicide. Brahms discovered the title two years later in Schumann’s estate. Brahms’s first attempt at composing a Requiem turned into the Piano Concerto in D Minor (1857). It was only after the death of Brahms’s mother eight years later that the work was actually composed. It originally had only six movements and was written for baritone, choir, and orchestra. As the fifth movement, Brahms later inserted a soprano solo to the text “I will console you as one is consoled by his mother.”

Brahms himself picked out the texts from Luther’s German translation of the Bible and he avoided the usual liturgical sequence, the Dies Irae, the fury and horror of which had been set to music colourfully by other composers. Rather than emphasising the theme of the Last Judgement, Brahms instead wished to give comfort to those who remained alive. In a letter to Clara Schumann, Brahms actually mentions a “Human Requiem”. The emphasis on the human dimension of music and the content make the German Requiem one of the kindest and most popular compositions of its kind.

The public reacted coolly to a performance of the first three movements in Vienna in 1867, but the premières of six movements in Bremen and then of the complete seven-movement work in Leipzig two years later were received with clear enthusiasm, setting the German Requiem on its way to the hearts of listeners around the world.

© Petra Hajska
© Petra Hajska
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