Brahms - Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem); Strauss - Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs)

Sat, 18 November 2017

Sung in German

Tickets for this concert will go on sale on Monday 18th September.

St Albans Bach Choir


Andrew Lucas


Lucy Crowe (soprano)

Edward Grint (baritone)

Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra 


Johannes Brahms wrote his German Requiem between 1865 and 1868, moved by the recent death of his mother, and perhaps also by the death of his friend Robert Schumann in 1856, who had planned a work of the same name, as Brahms found out years later. The work is in seven movements and its title, 'A German Requiem after words from Holy Scripture', marks it as different from the traditional Latin Requiem Mass. He chose his texts from the Lutheran Bible, which focussed on the living and bereaved, rather than the dead and their salvation. The texts provide comfort in grief, rather than redemption from sin. It is a supremely human, even humanist, work.

The chorus, which sings in all movements, is joined by soprano and baritone soloists who share the delivery of the text. The seven movements are centred around the text 'How lovely are thy dwellings' set to tranquil music; the outer movements set words from the Beatitudes, so that the work begins and ends with the word 'Selig' ('Blessed'). There is drama, solemnity and vigorous fugal writing throughout the work.

It was first performed complete in 1869 in Leipzig. Previous performances of the work, as successive movements were written, were given in Vienna (1867) and Bremen (1868). Today it is a staple part of the choral repertoire. The St Albans Bach Choir last performed it in 2009 and look forward to sharing it with their audience again.


While Brahms wrote his German Requiem in his prime, Richard Strauss was an old man by the time he wrote his Four Last Songs in the year before his death in 1949, aged 85. By this stage he was living in the Bavarian Alps at Garmisch, and the local scenery coloured the texture of the songs. The last one, 'Im Abendrot' (At Sunset), ends with the line "Is this perhaps death?" The question is not answered in words, but instead Strauss quotes the 'transfiguration theme' from his earlier tone poem, Death and Transfiguration—meant to symbolize the transfiguration and fulfilment of the soul after death.

It forms part of the composer’s Indian summer, when some of his most sublime music was created, in a style which harks back to earlier ages, while retaining his hallmark harmonic language, now refined into his personal blend of neo-classical and high romantic styles.


St Albans Bach Choir has been performing since 1924: recent programmes have included Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Verdi’s Requiem (also in London's Cadogan Hall), Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, and in July 2016 the choir joined forces with the St Albans Cathedral Choirs to present Bach's Mass in B minor with The English Concert. In 2013, as part of the St Albans International Organ Festival’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations, the choir performed Britten’s War Requiem with the Britten Sinfonia under the baton of Sir Richard Armstrong. This year the choir returned to the Festival in July for a performance of Handel's Messiah with the London Handel Orchestra conducted by Laurence Cummings. In December 2013, and again in 2015, the choir joined John Rutter and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for their popular carol concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. The choir will also be represented onstage at the Albert Hall, as it was in 2016, for this year's BBC1 Big Sing programmes on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (RPCO)was formed in 1987 and has built up an international reputation in its own right. Performing in the major concert halls and concert venues in the UK and around the world, from China and the Far East to North and South America, the RPCO is known for its versatile programming of classical, light classical and popular music. The RPCO is regularly seen working with renowned artists in the worlds of classical music, pop music and West End musicals and appears at many of the UK’s most celebrated summer music festivals.



Season Ticket discounts (max 4 tickets per booking):

10% for 3 concerts; 5% for 2 concerts

Premium           £30 - Centre front with full view

Classic                £25 - Centre middle with full view or slightly restricted view

Standard Plus   £18 - Centre back with full view  or restricted view

Standard             £12 - mainly located in the aisles or behind pillars (these seats have no view of the stage)    

No View              £12 - Centre or side aisles

No view seats will only be released when seats with views have sold out.


Children (under 16)   £12
Students (full time)    £12 - not available for premium
Wheelchair spaces    £25 (Classic only), with a carer going free

Wheelchair spaces and carer discounts can only be booked through the Box Office. Please call 01727 890290 or visit the Cathedral. If you require a seat with ease of access, not necessarily using a wheelchair, please consult the Box Office for advice as the seating plan is only illustrative.

Entry via the Cedar Tree Door, Sumpter Yard. Doors open 7pm. Performance starts 7.30pm and ends approximately 9.30pm. There will be an interval of 20 minutes during this performance at approximately 7.55pm.

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