Johannes Brahms is an icon. When you say Johannes, you know it refers to Brahms. The successor to Beethoven, the sober man who took seriousness very seriously, the chief protagonist of the classical tradition, an intimate friend of the Schumanns.

But how well do we really know Brahms? How close does he let us come to him through his music? In search of the man who was Brahms, through his Requiem and the music of his good friend Robert Schumann.

The death of his mother and his mentor Schumann, two people so close to him marked Brahms – but it also led to the creation of one of his finest works.

Bent over his writing desk, full of sorrow over his loss, Brahms wanted to write music that would nevertheless offer some support: hope for those near him, comfort for the living – and not with a sombre funeral march. Initially, he gave his composition the title Ein menschliches Requiem (A Human Requiem). The monumental composition for orchestra and choir that would become Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) lies far from that intimate beginning. But Brahms did not forget his initial plan: he even transcribed a version for piano 4 hands, soloists and choir: transparent, intimate, colourful and, most importantly, very personal.

In search of the man who was Brahms, we weave some childhood memories of hisgood friend Schumann in between the movements of the Requiem. In his Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), Schumann in turn combined various short works that were close to his heart and through which he thought back, filled with nostalgia, to his own childhood.


Johannes Brahms, Ein deutsches Requiem, op. 45
Robert Schumann, Kinderszenen, op. 15 (selection)

Kinderszenen, IV. Bittendes Kind
Ein deutsches Requiem, I. Selig sind, die da Leid tragen
Kinderszenen, VIII. Am Kamin
Ein deutsches Requiem, II. Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras
Kinderszenen, XII. Kind Im Einschlummern
Ein deutsches Requiem, III. Herr, Iehre doch mich
Kinderszenen, XIII. Der Dichter spricht
Ein deutsches Requiem, IV. Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen
Kinderszenen, X. Fast zu ernst
Ein deutsches Requiem, V. Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit
Kinderszenen, I. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen
Ein deutsches Requiem, VI. Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Statt
Kinderszenen, VII. Träumerei
Ein deutsches Requiem, VII. Selig sind die Toten

Come, come a bit closer: there he is, sitting in his study. Look over his shoulder – what is he working on so intensely? Why that sorrowful glance in his youthful eyes? First his mother, then his good friend and mentor Robert Schumann, two people very dear to him were no more...

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The text to Ein deutsches Requiem, original & translated.

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