Thursday, 24 January 2013

More Homework

I dutifully studied my singing homework for Tuesday evening, only for the rehearsal to be cancelled because of heavy snow blocking the road from Swindon to Devizes.   Our conductor lives in Swindon, and had she set out early, she might have arrived here, but certainly would not have got home that night.   

Today a thaw has set in, and our weekly market day took place for the first time without strong gusts of wind, heavy rain and snowfalls.  The weather over that last few weeks has been atrocious, and now the big worry is about what will happen when the snow melts,  as  countrywide,  the saturated ground has not capacity to absorb anymore water.   Help! 

I've now started listening to and learning the notes of Johannes Brahms's "Ein Deutsches Requiem,"  a German Requiem, which we are singing in sombre German.   Brahms was born in Hamburg in on 13th May 1833, and composed this work between 1865 and 1868.  It is a large scale work for chorus and orchestra, with soprano and baritone soloists.   The work is Brahms's longest composition, has seven movements and lasts approximately 70 to 80 minutes,   Unlike the long tradition of Requiems in Latin, Brahms wrote this in his native German language.   

Brahms's friend, Robert Schumann died in July 1856,  and his mother in February 1865,  and it is thought that these two deaths were the motivating factor for the Requiem's composition.   Although composed over several years, the final seven movement version was premiered in Leipzig on February 18th 1869.   Brahms died in 1897 and is buried in Vienna, the place where he'd spent most of his working life

The "Te Deum" was composed by Anton Dvorak, a Czech composer born in the town of Nelahozeves in 1841.   He came from a humble home, where  has father ran an inn and a butcher's shop.  Despites his son's obvious musical talents, there was little money for music lessons, although he learnt to plat the violin and played in amateur orchestras and sang in his local church choir.  He graduated from the organ school in Prague, and wrote his first compostion at the age of 20.  His later works incorporate the themes and folk songs of his native homeland.  He attracted the inter of Johnannes Brahms, who assisted him during his career.  

The "Te Deum" was performed for the first time on October 21st in the New York Hall with a choir of 250 singers and conducted by the composer.  He died of a stroke in May 1904 aged 63,  and his ashes are interned in Vysehrad Cemetry Prague.


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