Johannes Brahms’ requiem is a masterpiece.

BY MADELINE HART

It is multiple movements and is just extremely pretty sounding. I believe it is most likely due to the importance of the orchestra within the piece. So many pieces that utilize orchestra and voice make the voice the dominant aspect of the piece and the orchestra is merely an accompaniment. However, Brahms does no such thing and makes both parts of the requiem equal. Without the orchestra, the requiem would be nothing. It also helps just show that Classical music is really pretty. This is such a beautiful piece and those who may not really have a firm grasp of music are most likely incapable of talking poorly about this, in my opinion. I just can not stop repeating how much I love this piece, it is honestly one of my favorites.
The actual dynamics during the piece are interesting. The piece is on average slow and expressive throughout. However, the piece does routinely change up the tempo and dynamics throughout. The piece will get loud and faster and extremely articulate when the drama is building up. The orchestra and the choir both get louder as the drama increases and diminishes during less dramatic moments. I think it is fascinating how Brahms was able to portray such strong emotion in this piece. The piece is seven movements and each one is able to expertly portray emotion throughout it. There are two soloists throughout the piece and during these times the drama was very much up to the soloist’s interpretation. The use of the soloists and the full choir as well as the orchestra really makes this piece beautiful.

According to a Brahms’ biography, the requiem is believed to be for Brahms’ mother who passed away. However, the actual piece is focussed on the living and not the dead. It should also be noted that unlike other requiems, Brahms’ has little to no religious content in it. Many requiems are religious in nature and performed for church mass, in most cases a Catholic Mass. However, Brahms’ wanted this work to be a humanist piece and not a Christian piece, again according to Britannica’s biography entry of Brahms. I find it fascinating how Brahms was able to construct such a magnificent piece and make one of the prettiest and most famous requiems ever, yet put nearly no Christian doctrine within it.

After listening to the entire piece I really thought about what it meant to me after listening to it. It made me really gain a huge respect for Classical and Romantic era composers. Looking at contemporary music today that is created on a computer and relatively easy to compose, and seeing how they sound as compared to say Brahms’ requiem is interesting. It is beyond amazing seeing how these composers from back in the Classical and Romantic eras were able to compose such elaborate pieces. This is so elaborate and complex and it must have taken the work of a genius to be able to organize the instrumentation to create these melodies as well as combining the orchestra with the choir and solo singers. This alone should be enough to prove how impressive Brahms and other composers were at making music. However, they had to do this with paper and pencil. They didn’t have computers and adequate resources that could help them when creating music, it was all on their own.

It was an amazing combination of the soft and dark emotion being played from the orchestra, to the dramatic and full sound of the choir. The requiem is one of my all time favorites, due to the minor key used throughout the piece and the drama and expression that is used.