Posted on February 23, 2011 by Michael
A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms is one of the great masterpieces of choral/orchestral literature. Composed to texts selected by the composer, A German Requiem is both a deeply personal statement by Brahms, as well as an offering of consolation and comfort to the living. The name A German Requiem (Ein deutches Requiem) was never the first choice of the composer, who actually preferred ‘Human’ Requiem. However, the fact that he used a text chosen from Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible instead of the traditional Latin text of the Roman Catholic liturgy became an important characteristic of the work.
Two deaths are considered to have had considerable influence on Brahms in the writing of his Requiem. The first was the death of his dear friend and mentor, composer Robert Schumann, in 1856. It is widely assumed that the death of his mother in 1865 eventually led Brahms to add a seventh movement to what had been premiered in 1868 as a six movement work. This additional movement incorporates a moving soprano solo, probably memorializing his mother, and is placed as movement five in the now seven movement composition, premiered in 1869.
After completion of his monumental masterpiece—by far the largest work he ever composed—Brahms eloquently expressed his deep satisfaction: “Now I am consoled. I have surmounted obstacles that I thought I would never overcome and I feel like an eagle, soaring ever higher and higher.” His Requiem has provided similar consolation for countless performers and listeners in the nearly century and a half of its existence. What a gift to all humanity is this masterpiece by Johannes Brahms.
Filed under: Choral experiences | Tagged: A German Requiem, Brahms, choral, ein deutches requiem, luther bible, Michael O'Neal, Schumann | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 17, 2011 by Michael
Okay, I’ll admit I’m writing this blog about love THREE days after Valentine’s Day, but I was in the midst of concerts then! Anyway, Love should be an acceptable topic more than just one day a year, so here goes! I want us to consider today some of our favorite choral pieces on the subject of romantic love. I’ll start with mine and then I’d “love” for you to offer yours.
On the top of my list would be the Liebeslieder Walzer, Op. 52, and the Neue Liebeslieder Walzer, Op. 65, by Johannes Brahms. These tributes to love, Vienna, and the Strauss waltzes are fresh everytime I hear, sing or conduct them. Another set of songs that has become a favorite of mine in recent years is Five Hebrew Love Songs, composed by Eric Whitacre, with words by his wife, Hila Plitmann. These are lovely pieces and you can almost “feel” in them the love between Eric and Hila. Rene Clausen has created a beautiful setting of the Robert Burns poem, Oh My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose and David Dickau has done likewise with i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings.
I could name many more, but I think I’ll let you folks contribute now. I know there must be a lot of titles out there, for as we all know, choral musicians are a romantic bunch!
Filed under: Choral experiences | Tagged: choral love songs, david dickau, e.e.cummings, eric whitacre, Michael O'Neal, Rene Clausen, Robert Burns, romantic love, Valentine's songs | 5 Comments »
Posted on February 5, 2011 by Michael
This is the weekend for the biggest “American” sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl. While I can’t say I’m a big football fan, I do at least try to get into the spirit of the game during this time. I would imagine that most of you reading this blog are musicians, so my challenge to you is to come up with some good “football” songs. I’ll get you started. There is the obvious choice, perhaps the worst country song lyric ever written (and that’s making quite a statement) – Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through the Goal Posts of Life. Keeping the “religious” theme going for a moment, I would offer the old Contemporary Christian song, Pass It On. We can move into the more popular realm with Another One Bites the Dust or We Will Rock You (We Are the Champions) by Queen.
Now it’s your turn. Suggest some titles and start singing!
Filed under: Choral experiences | 5 Comments »