Friday, November 11, 2011
Although his own compositional techniques are considered avant garde, Arnold Schoenberg viewed himself as a direct extension of the German tradition of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms. He was 22 when Brahms died, and his particular affinity for Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1 led him to the task of orchestrating the work in 1937. In a letter to the San Francisco Symphony’s program annotator, he stated his reasons: he liked it, it was seldom played, and he wanted to be able to hear all the parts. He vowed to remain strictly within Brahms’ style and to use only elements he believed Brahms would have; the results are a work that is a co-authorship of peers.
Posted by San Francisco Symphony Podcasts at 5:01 PM
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Although not a conventionally religious man, Johannes Brahms knew his Bible well and assembled the text for his German Requiem himself, choosing passages that suited his means perfectly. By titling it the German Requiem, Brahms meant that it was for the German people, in a language that they could understand—he also mentioned in his letters an alternate title of the Human Requiem. Although technically a mass for the dead, the work does not mention death until the penultimate movement, and even then addresses the living with a sense of reassured faith rather than anxiety.
Posted by San Francisco Symphony Podcasts at 4:38 PM