In his first MSO performance as Conductor
Laureate, Sir Andrew Davis returns to conduct one of the most moving
tributes to grief and remembrance, Brahms’Ein deutsches Requiem.
Brahms called it Ein deutsches Requiem to distinguish it
from the Latin kind, to lift it from the merely religious, making of it
something humanist and secular. A German requiem was not specifically
for the German people; Brahms’ wanted it to speak to all humanity. A
transcendent choral work, with gloriously tender parts for baritone and
soprano, it is a work that speaks to the best of us.
Brahms began composing Ein deutsches Requiem early in 1865,
only a month or so after the death of his mother. The profound sense of
loss and overwhelming grief of that time is unmistakably threaded
throughout the music. But there’s also a wondrous feeling of gratitude.
Where most requiems focus on the dead, Brahms’ begins with the living.
The first words sung are “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be
This concert will also feature two works by Beethoven; a fitting
tribute to the man whose bust stared down at Brahms while he composed.
Firstly, we have the rarely-heardKing Stephen Overture, which was commissioned by Emperor Francis I of Austria. Second is the stunning, emotionally tempestuous concert ariaAh! perfido, most famously sung by Maria Callas.