Brahms Requiem March 30, 2019


A Requiem for the Living

By Michael Diorio

Concert Saturday, March 30 at 7:00pm
When loved ones leave us our lives experience a vacuum in death’s wake.  Often this is accompanied by a period of self-reflection and greater mindfulness of our own mortality. What we do with grief when it is upon us can either propel us forward or anchor us indefinitely.  We are challenged to celebrate life in the face of death: an emotional paradox to which Brahms would have most assuredly subscribed.
Johannes Brahms was a realist, a pragmatist and an agnostic when it came to faith.  He was well versed in the Bible as translated by Martin Luther, yet detested dogma in religion and the thought of redemption through suffering. Brahms’ personal faith came from his upbringing in a tightly-knit family, the influential people and events that he experienced, and his own philosophy that kindness and generosity be extended to others. He had a love of life, and would forgo the worries of another day to fully live in the present. If Brahms were a different person, more strongly Christian and denominationally identifiable, his Requiem might have taken a very different form.
Ein deutsches Requiem (“A German Requiem”) represents Brahms’ view on life and death.  Daring to be different, it is written not for liturgical use, but for public consumption in a concert venue. It is not written in Latin, but in Brahms’ German vernacular, so as to be clearly understand by the German-speaking public. The biblical texts Brahms chose were not those of the traditional Requiem. In fact, there are no liturgical movements whatsoever within this work. Christ is quoted but twice, yet is never specifically mentioned in the entire piece. So what is this work about, and for whom was it written?
Given Brahms’ system of beliefs, his Requiem may be considered as a work more for the living than the dead. It focuses on those who remain in the wake of death. Throughout the work’s text Brahms explores the contrast of those who have achieved a state of peace, and those who have yet to receive it—still afflicted with a sense of mortality rather than eternality. The message that Brahms brings to us through this work is one of hope:  the promise of joy over sorrow, life over death, and the comfort taken in our trust of God. The Requiem is, in a manner of speaking, Brahms’ own sermon to us, reminding us both of our mortality and the promise of the eternal.  
Please join us on Saturday, March 30, at 7pm as Music at The Redeemer presents the Requiem of Johannes Brahms.
This concert will be offered in memory of Michael O. Stairs.
Last Published: February 25, 2019 3:29 PM