Musical contribution – March 2021

Herzliebster Jesu (‘Ah, Holy Jesus’)                                                                                Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

(LiVE sample set: Leipzig, Sauer)

Despite growing up in a Hamburg slum, Brahms’ musical talent soon shone through when he was given the opportunity to take piano lessons at an early age. He never forgot where he came from and – his major successes notwithstanding – he always lived a simple life and donated generously to charities. On the day of his funeral, thousands of people lined the streets of Vienna to say goodbye to one of their most beloved musicians.

Brahms spent the last summer of his life (that of 1896) in the Upper Austrian resort of Bad Ischl, where he wrote his Opus 122: Eleven Chorale Preludes, based on verses of Lutheran chorales. We are spotlighting the fourth of these chorales this month: a rich melody accompanied by an expressive motif that is reminiscent of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orgelbüchlein (‘Little Organ Book’).

According to Brahms’ instructions, the piece is to be played forte, but I doubt that means pulling out too many stops. I personally think the intensity of the motif outweighs the sound volume for this composition. My choice is to use many 8-foot stops and possibly a 16-foot stop. But since you will want to avoid an overly heavy sound, a small 4-foot stop would add a little color.

 

Warm regards,

André van Vliet

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