"As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you." These words from the book of Isaiah are one of the Bible verses Johannes Brahms chose for Ein deutsches Requiem. He wrote the mass for the dead after his mother passed away and wanted the music to comfort the bereaved.
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was 31 when he lost his mother in February 1865. He was close to her, and Brahms brushed off an idea he had had for a few years to write a mass for the dead - a requiem. The idea may have originated from his first and most important mentor, Robert Schumann. Schumann and Brahms met in 1853, but the following year, he was admitted to a mental hospital and died two years later. It was later revealed that Schumann planned to write a requiem in German, and it is possible that he shared the idea with Brahms.
Instead of using the Latin Mass lyric, Brahms chose Luther's German Bible texts. The most important thing for Brahms was not a tribute to or intercession for the dead but to comfort and encourage the living. One of the texts is from Isaiah 66:13: “As a mother comforts her child, I will comfort you." The piece opens with a verse from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:4): "Blessed are those who mourn,for they shall be comforted.” The word "blessed" also opens and closes the seventh and final movement. Ein deutsches Reqiuem was premiered in its entirety in Bremen in 1868.
What is played
- Johannes Brahms