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Brahm's Requiem?


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Does anyone here have any advice about it.

I am a returning student of the violin. In the last year I have played Rutter's Requiem and Handel's Messiah (first half + 44). I found Rutter's Requiem very satisfying as it was the first major piece I had played on violin and I consider it overall a success. The Messiah I found extraordinarily difficult and played on the beats for most of the allegro portions during our concert. I am chalking it up to a learning experience and hoping that someday I'll get to play it again.

I won't receive the music until after the first of the year, but I looked at a score this morning. The second violin part looks like there is much less shifting.

Any thoughts are welcome on how I should approach this piece and how it compares to the Rutter and Handel pieces.

Also, I am assuming since it is a Requiem that most of it moves at the speed of a dirge. Is that correct?

Thanks in advance,


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This is a magnificant choral/orchestral work. Brahms strove to make the Requiem very inclusive by departing from the usual form based on the Roman Church liturgy (credo, sanctus, gloria, kyrie, etc). The first section, for example, is from Chapt 40 of Isaiah: "All flesh is like the grass..." I regard it as one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of music of its kind.

My general experience with Brahms' music is that it can be hard. He was a successful composer in his own lifetime and so probably assumed that his works would be performed by leading orchestras of that era. Thus, he wrote what he wanted and assumed it would be playable.

You may find this work somewhat over your head, but if the orchestra is big enough for you to safely fake through a few of the parts, I think you'll find the experience worthwhile. (I do hope that you will not make the decision to fake or not lightly; there is always the issue of disappointing your fellow players, which you should also consider.)

Good luck if you decide to press on.


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It has been quite a few years since I did the Brahm's Requiem. I do remember it being a gorgeous piece with some really nice bass solos. I had only been playing a couple of years when I did it and I don't remember it as being extremely difficult. We did rehearse the bejeebers out of the piece so that might have something to do with it.

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As a follow-up to Mr. Schulz's reply, I have played second violin in one or two Brahms pieces, and they are not easy. One thing you need to remember is that Brahms was not a violinist. When he wrote his violin concerto, Joseph Joachim, for whom it was written, gave him extensive input as to what would work on violin and what would not. While violin parts to larger works would probably not be as difficult, they might suffer from the same problem: Brahms writing something that he wanted but that would not necessarily work very well for a violinist. Good luck!

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Your assumption about the tempo is not a safe one. Depending on the conductor, the middle section of the second movement ('Denn Alles Fleisch......'), for example, can go at quite a clip... then again, I don't know what the second violins are playing there. The same holds true for a few other spots in the 4th, 5th & 6th movements..... particularly the 5th.

I would highly recommend that you listen to a recording, get VERY familiar with the piece & learn how your part fits in. That kind of knowledge really pays off when you find yourself in the middle of something so massive & complex.

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