What is the course about?
Brahms’s Requiem is an anomaly amongst works of this kind, set to a collection of Biblical texts of his own choosing. The work is intimately connected with his own personal experience (the death of his mother, and the predictions of his greatness issued by Robert Schumann when Brahms was still a very young man). In time, though, the piece came to have significance not only for its composer, but as a work embodying national pride in the newly-emerging German Empire. We will consider these interweaving strands, and the ways in which Brahms combines carefully chosen scriptural fragments with innovative – and ancient – compositional techniques.
What will we cover?
- Brahms’s earlier choral works and his experiences with choirs
- Biographical connections with the work, including the death of Brahms’s mother
- The development of the piece over many years, and the Renaissance and Baroque techniques it uses
- Early reception of the piece and its connection with the emergence of the German Empire.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- List some of the key influences on Brahms’s choral-orchestral style
- Outline the gradual development of the piece
- Identify the key themes of Brahms’s chosen texts
- Summarise the importance of this work for Brahms’s own career, and a particular take on German nationalism.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course in intended to be accessible for anyone with an interest in western classical music. We will look at various scores and historical documents during this course but you do not need to read music notation to participate in these activities. All texts will be in English or accompanied by an English translation. Musical scores are all available free online via IMSLP.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Each class will involve a combination of spoken presentations from the tutor, recorded and live musical examples, and class discussion and activities. These will include tasks for pairs and small groups, whole-class discussions and individual activities. There will be some small tasks to complete between classes (usually brief reading and/or listening tasks), and all materials for these – such as video links and texts – will be made available online.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
All classes, learning materials and online resources are included in the price. Those who wish to continue their learning outside the classes will be offered suggestions for further reading and listening, but this is not compulsory in order to complete the course.
You will need to bring paper and writing implements to take notes and participate fully in group activities. All presentation material and class handouts will also be made accessible in digital format.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
To find out more about music appreciation classes and to read some of our recommendations, please see the blog post Music history and appreciation: the 2018/19 programme which lists our full programme of classes listed by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details