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Brahms, Requiem: Editions

Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 22:13:32 -0700 (MST)
Subject: Brahms Requiem Compilation

Quite a while back I asked for the following information regarding the
Brahms Requiem. Now that school is out I am sending the compilation with
my original request which was:
> >
>> I would like recommendations for a full score of Brahms Requiem. I am
>> aware of the recent edition edited by Lara Hoggard and published by
>> Hinshaw. A couple of articles and letters in the Choral Journal discuss
>> the pros and cons of this score. I am interested in a full score and
>> set of parts. I would also like any comments on piano-vocal scores that
>> include the German text (I'm not interested in p-v scores with English
>> only).
>> ... I would also like any comments on piano-vocal scores that
>> include the German text (I'm not interested in p-v scores with English
>> only).

I finally settled on Wm. Bullock's new edition for our performance. It
is an excellent performing edition with copious notes and excellent
information about the text and translation. It is also the only pv score
in both German and English. I recommend it to you highly. The details
for this edition are near the end of the compilation. Since it is not a
full score, I conducted from the Dover edition. It is a copy of the
Breitkopf edition (and much cheaper). A new Brahms edition is in the
works and hopefully a new full score will be issued in the near future.

Here is the compilation of responses:

>think the Peters Edition (vocal score No.3672) is you best bet.
>This is what we used when we last performed Ein Deutsches Requiem.
>Jon Reed
>Michigan State University

>I conducted the Brahms Requeim from the Dover edition eighteen months ago,
>which I found clear, durable and accurate (not to mention cheap!). The
>only individual publications of "Wie lieblich" that I've come across are
>in Englisch "How lovely". Let me know if you want more details of these.
> Chris Johns, K10, Jesus College CB5 8BL Tel: (01223) 321188
> 24 Oaklands Ave, Littleover, Derby DE23 7QG Tel: (01332) 764792

>Dover sells a very fine, well-made full orchestral edition of Brahms'
>REQUIEM, in fact the one that Brahms himself edited. You might consider
>purchasing that, then checking it against the Hoggard score in the library
>and save yourself some money. As to the parts, Kalmus sells the old standard
>(I believe they are Breitkopf & Haertel) parts at reasonable rates. I would
>start there if I were you, rather than invest in a potentially expensive,
>newly edited version.
>I would do the same thing with the pv score. Consider the Peters edition
>score, then make any minor adjustments to the Hoggard score, if you feel that
>it is necessary.
>Good luck!
>Rick Hynson
>Music Director, Waukegan Symphony Orchestra, IL
>Music Director, Bel Canto Chorus and Orchestra of Milwaukee, WI


>The "Choral Score" of the Kalmus edition (K 06110) appears to be identical
>to the Peters edition, except that the Kalmus edition is slightly reduced
>in size (I don't have a copy of the Peters at hand, but remember
>comparing my Kalmus with Lisa Wolff's Peters; about 90%, I'd guess).
>I find no editorial corrections in my copy from the last time I sang it
>(with the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto), a year or two ago; only the
>usual singer's notes, reflecting the director's instructions or warning
>one what's lurking overleaf.
>Both editions contain German text only, with an English rendering of the
>whole (in what looks to me like Authorized Version language) on the
>contents page.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Donald F. Burrill, Professor Emeritus (416) 923-6641 ext 2460
> The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (416) 964-3254
> Toronto, Canada M5S 1V6
> 184 Nashua Road, Bedford, NH 03110 (603) 471-7128
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------

>There was something recently about a new edition, and I ordered a few
>vocal scores just the other day (acutally I orded them a month ago but it
>took the compnay this long to send me an invoice). I don't even have the
>info anymore, as I sent the invoice over to accounting yesterday, but
>eventually the scores will come in, and anyway, maybe they will see your
>The "traditional" full scores, according to Hoggard, have errors in them.
>His full score has corrected the errors and added his own "understanding,"
>of Brahms's style, so you can't tell what's a correction and what's
>editorial. Mostly we are talking about errors of dynamic markings, slurs,
>etc, not notes and rhythms. I believe the Kalmus full score is a rip-off
>of the old Breitkopf, as it usually is, and is perfectly fine. The Peters
>vocal score is the standard one, I guess. I have a Peters and aggard
>vocal score you'd be welcome to borrow if you want to compare (but who has
>time for that?), and you can certainly borrow one of these new ones when
>they arrive (can't even remember which language(s) they are in).
>My catalogue says we own How Lovely in an octavo edition, and I'm pretty
>sure we have one at church as well. Probably both English, but can't be
>sure until I look. Certainly both a hundred years old. I'll check who
>published them and let you know.
>David Griggs-Janower
>Albany Pro Musica
>228 Placid Drive
>Schenectady, NY 12303-5118

>We have the Kalmus choral score for the Brahms, which in the case of this
>piece is an offprint of the Peters or Breitkopf edition, and it is
>faithful to the full score, also published by Breitkopf I believe. I
>bought my full score in Hungary one summer while at the Classical Music
>Seminar in Eisenstadt, for a mere $30, would you believe, not possible to
>get it for that anymore.
>Len Ratzlaff
>Department of Music
>University of Alberta

Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 09:36:12 -0500
From: Joel Knapp
Subject: Re: Brahms Requiem Compilation

FYI - The Methodists have published a 6-week bible study on Brahms'
Requiem. Each week takes a movement, looks at the scripture used by
Brahms, why Brahms chose the text (context), and how he set the text to
music in a meaningful way.

My university choir has been asked by our local
symphony to join another choir for the Brahms Requiem.
I'm thrilled with the request and know my students will
love having the opportunity to perform the work. My problem
is that the conductor wants to do it in English.
Bonnie Sneed


This is a question I put to my Choral Lit students: When should you use
original languages and when should you use English? And there is no
single right answer.

In this case, however, you have been asked to perform a service under
specific conditions. Either you are willing to work under those conditions
or you are not. You can certainly bring up the question with the music
director, but that's where the buck stops.

Personally I would acceed to the request for the musical value to my
students, and try to make a learning experience out of it--perhaps be
programing one movement later in the year in German. But for you, it's a
simple yes or no decision. Go with your heart!


From: "Timothy P. Banks" To:
Subject: Re: brahms requiem

As we know one another, this response is as much for our
fellow Listers, I guess, as for you. I've conducted the
Brahms Requiem in both the original German, in the old
Schirmer English version (which I "fixed" with the help of
a German-cholar pastor firend of mine). Most recently
(May 97 and May 98) I have done it with Bill Bullock's
truly excellent translation. The reactions are always
stimulating. When we did I did it in German with the
Alabama Symphony & Chorus, the German speakers in the
audience were very supportive, and the general audience was
moved by the beauty of the music itself, with perhaps
little regard for the German text. However, for the May 97
performance of Bullock's version (with a large combined
group of various church choristers), I was in a casual
conversation just a week or so prior with a German musician
from Weimar who was visiting the campus. In the
conversation about our upcoming performance, he simply
asked, "And I suppose you have a very good English
translation?" -- This question struck me! He, a German,
who performs practically all dramatic works (!) in his
native tongue, ASSUMED that I was doing the work in
English. Milburn Price (my dean) and I decided that, even
though our local critic was not keen on the idea, I should
repeat this translation last May in our own university
performance here at Samford.
With your German population in Huntsville, however, I see
your rather unique situation. I, too, perform most
"language" pieces in the original, but I truly concur with
my esteemed colleagues that have responded so far: Go with
you heart-- but go with your heart FOR your students. My
own feeling is that an English-speaking Brahms is way
better than no Brahms at all!
Wouldn't we all be better off if we spent our time arguing
the merits of the actual music we perform, rather than
getting bogged down in the language issue. (?!)
Bonnie, a vote from Birmingham: Go for it!
(Perhaps you could try to to talk the conductor into
Bill's fine version. If not, I'll be glad to share my old
"fixes" if you're limited to Schirmer. Hoggard is okay,
but much questionable musicology in the edition itself (--I
know, I was in one of his seminars ;-)
(Entschuldigung fur meine Ueberreden!)


Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 12:52:04 -0500 (EST)
From: David Griggs-Janower To:
Subject: Re: brahms requiem

I think you should go ahead and do it in English with the symphony.
it would be awful to deprive yur students of this opportunity to sing
what is one of the greatest choral works ever because of the language.
It's not as if you are singing it in Germany, and Brahms probably
expected his audience to understand it.

Perhaps you can persuade the conductor to use the Hoggard translation
published by Hinshaw, which is so much better than the old one, and
does more justice to Brahms by far, IMHO!!! Text stresses on the
right notes, for example.


Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 15:51:53 -0500 (EST)
From: David Griggs-Janower To: choralacademe Subject: Re: brahms requiem

In an earlier post I mentioned Hoggard's English edition, but forget
to mention Bill Bullock's recent English edition. I think it's
excellent, and would urge anyone planning a Brahms Req. in English to
look at both editions, and, in my opinion, avoid the old ones!

Bill can be reached at:

Dr. William J. Bullock (Bill)
Schwob Department of Music
Columbus State University
4225 University Avenue
Columbus, GA 31907-5645


Date: Mon, 09 Nov 1998 17:13:49 -0600
From: "Dr. James Shrader" To:
Subject: Re: brahms requiem

I wonder if Brahms' intention for the Requiem is complete if the audience
can't understand the text? Certainly he was writing a masterpiece for the
ages, but he was also writing for listeners who were native speakers, and
therefore with a certain assumption of understanding. Of course the
emotional value of the music is easily engaged by the listener, but is that
the only intent? We used to have this battle in opera. The compromise was
the invention of super-titles (or whatever your local opera company calls
them) where the text is sung in the original language and the translation
is projected above the proscenium. It would be an a gigantic undertaking,
but perhaps, with slides, you could accomplish the same compromise. If you
do, maybe you could even let others (for a fee) use the text. Of course,
some copyright arrangement would need to be made depending on the
translation used. This is just a passing thought, but I do think complete
integrity to Brahms' intentions would include a comprehending audience.
Good luck. -J.


Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 12:55:50 -0500
From: Wayne Abercrombie To:
Subject: Re: brahms requiem

I weigh in with those who value the opportunity for your students
to experience the work, whethter singing it in English or German.
Having conducted it several times, with several types of choirs, in
both languages and two different translations, and having lived with the
work as the subject of a doctoral document for several years, the original
language speaks most powerfully to me. (I am not fluent in German.
And this music is so powerful that every choral singer should have
it as their own, performing it more than once over their lifetimes.
I agree with the listers who said:

- use this as a teaching/discussion opportunity with your students;
- compare the translations of mssrs. Bullock, Hoggard, and that of
Leonard Van Camp (So. Illinois U.).
- avoid the old Schirmer translation;

From my reading of Brahms's words and actions, I think he would not
object to a performance in English.

Check out Michael Musgrave's
handbook on the work as a bibliographical starting place.


Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 14:00:44 -0600
From: Lester Seigel To: choralacademe Subject: RE: brahms requiem

In my humble opinion, Brahms wrote the work in his native language when it was
understood that a "requiem" was a liturgical work in the language of the
church. Putting the aesthetic question of the "marriage" of text and music
aside for a moment, the immediacy of the English translation set to that
gorgeous music certainly argues for performing the work in English if that's
the option, rather than not doing it at all. As another composer once said,
"From the heart--may it go to the heart." I'm sure that's what Brahms would
have intended if he had email and could answer this posting. And I appreciate
the fact that so many of my choral colleagues seem to agree! Isn't it amazing
how this little question has enlivened the Choralacademe list today?


Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 09:39:07
From: "C. M. Shearer" Subject: Brahms Requiem

The color and delicate neuances of a language are an intregal part of any
good piece of choral music, and it is these neuances, ringing in the mind
of a great composer, that become the nexus which binds the technical
aspects of the music (pitches, rhythms, harmony, melody, etc) into an
aesthetic whole. The language in which a work is written is as much a part
of the piece as the instrumental orchestration.

Just as the orchestra conductor would not consider performing an
arrangement of the Requiem for wind ensemble, then he should not consider
performing an arrangement of the vocal part of the Requiem in English.


Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 13:43:34 -0600
From: Richard Bloesch
Subject: Re: German Requiem (tranlslation again--sorry!)

The best English version in my opinion is the one by William J. Bullock
(2nd Edition 1997). Published by Columbus Civic Chorale, Inc., Columbus,
GA. Distributed by: Academy Music, 1342 13th Street, Columbus, GA 31901.
Phone: 706/576-6683. He compares his translation with previous ones and
goes into great detail in his explanations about English-German syllable
correlation. I think everyone should have a copy of this edition, even if
one doesn't eventually decide to use it in performance. It provides many
insights not available elsewhere. I bought my copy (piano-vocal score) at
a booth at the Southern ACDA Convention. It cost me $8.25. That might be
a little steep one one needs to purhase multiple copies. On the other
hand, Bullock and his publisher might give a better price for bulk orders,
or may be willing todd to send rental copies at a lower cost.

on July 21, 2008 10:00pm
I'm looking for guidance on the possible publication date of an old Vocal Score of Brahms Requiem Op 45. My grandfather used to belong to a choral society in London before the second world war. He left a number of scores when he died, the one I'm trying to date is Peters Edition No 3672 Vocal Score with a reproduction of a photograph of Brahms by Maris Fellinger oposite the the (highly decorated) title page. Can anyone help please?