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Johannes Brahms: "Two Chorale Preludes"

October 2, 2015

 Two Chorale Preludes

   I. Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (A Lovely Rose is Blooming), Op. 122, No. 8

   II. O Gott, Du frommer Gott (O God, Thou Holy God), Op. 122, No. 7

Johannes Brahms

Born: May 7, 1833, Hamburg, Germany

Died: April 3, 1897, Vienna, Austria

Composed: 1896

Original Instrumentation: Organ

Transcribed: Ralph Guenther, 1958

Duration: 8 minutes

 

Brahms composed eleven Chorale Preludes for organ in May and June, 1896, shortly prior to his death. Arthur Egidi, in an article written for the Brahms-Heft of Die Musik, attributes their genesis to the composers’ illness at the time. He also refers to the work by which they had been immediately preceded – the four Serious Songs, Op. 121 – in order to show that for some time Brahms had been pondering serious subjects. It seems quite natural that, having completed his extensive collection of folksongs which represented an ideal of melodic style for him, Brahms should have also given expression to his love of chorale melodies. The art of chorale harmonization had already been well represented in his motets. In turning to the form of the organ prelude, Brahms was returning to a form of his youth – for the early works include a prelude and fugue upon the chorale “O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid.” As with parallel cases of the motets, Brahms’ response is to the aesthetic character of the works, including their spiritual associations, rather than to any functional purpose or imitation. As far as is known, Brahms never played the organ in his later years, but his compositions had a profound influence on the German organ school of the early twentieth century, represented chiefly by the work of Reger and Karg-Elert. In short, these preludes also have a pathetic meaning applying to ourselves. They are the last handshake of a master who, even to the end, could not part from us without an earnest repetition of his life-long admonition to build up rather than destroy, and to hold the past in reverence.

- Program Note by Frederick Fennell

 

 Johannes Brahms, Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (A Lovely Rose is Blooming), Op. 122, No. 8, Tr. Guenther

Dallas Wind Symphony, Frederick Fennell, conductor

 

 Johannes Brahms, O Gott, Du frommer Gott (O God, Thou Holy God), Op. 122, No. 7, Tr. Guenther

Dallas Wind Symphony, Frederick Fennell, conductor

 

Additional Resources:

- Recording: Johannes Brahms, 11 Chorale Preludes for Organ

- Johannes Brahms Biography (Wikipedia)

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