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Blessed Are They

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Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (trans. Buehlman)


Subtitle: From 'A German Requiem'


General Info

Year: 1868 / 1970
Duration: c. 6:05
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Ludwig Masters
Cost: Score and Parts - $55.00   |   Score Only - $10.00


Instrumentation

Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Eb Contra Alto Clarinet
Bb Contrabass Clarinet
Eb Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Cornets I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium (Bass Clef & Treble Clef)
Tuba
String Bass
Timpani
Percussion, including:

  • Suspended Cymbal


Errata

  • Trombone 1 (Score and parts m. 14) - first note should be an E-flat (tied from previous measure)
  • Trombone 1 & 2 (Score and parts m. 78) - last note should be a B-Flat
  • Trombone 3 (part only m. 78) - last note should be a B-flat


Program Notes

A German Requiem is considered Brahms’ greatest vocal work. It was premiered on Good Friday, April 10, 1868, at the Cathedral Church in Bremen, Germany. Brahms had to receive special permission to perform the piece because it “contained no explicit reference to Christ and scrupulously avoided an exposition of doctrinal theology.” Regardless, the public immediately accepted the piece and its performance became an annual event at the cathedral. Critics claimed it uplifted them “both spiritually and aesthetically.” Brahms' German Requiem differs from the standard Roman Catholic requiem mass by offering a message of “assurance and hope to the living.”

A characteristic of Brahms was his laboring over a score even after it has been finished. In fact, Part V of the Requiem was not even included in the original score but later added. The Requiem “evolved through nearly a decade of painstaking composition and revision.” The opening of the Requiem is an affirmation, as opposed to the typical requiem opening with a plea. The Roman Catholic requiem mass opened by bringing our attention in honoring the dead, but Brahms opens his work by seeking to comfort the living and to offer solace and hope to those who have lost loved ones. The text was selected from Luther’s translation of the Bible and Part I reads as follows:

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. – Matthew 5:4 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. They who go forth and weep, and bear precious seed, shall come again with rejoicing and bring their sheaves with them. – Psalm 126:5-6

Part I, the prelude of Brahms' Requiem, was used by Barbara Buehlman for Blessed Are They. This arrangement for band was published in 1970.

- Program Note by Anthony Johnny


Johannes Brahms was not a religious man in the usual sense of the term. Thus, it should be of no surprise that when he wrote the German Requiem, it did not follow the prescribed five movement form of the traditional requiem mass based on biblical texts, but instead contained seven movements. The work was premiered in the Bremen Cathedral on Good Friday, 1868. The German Requiem marked the first time that Brahms combined orchestra with chorus and soloists. It is considered to be his choral masterwork. While the style is unabashedly romantic, the form is clearly influenced by Handel and reflects Brahms’ intensive study of earlier masters.

Blessed Are They is the first movement of the German Requiem. The original version pairs the chorus with the orchestra to create a heavy, somber mood.

- Program Note from Appalachian State University Concert Band concert program, 25 April 2016


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


Audio Links


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class A
  • Arkansas: III
  • California: III Class C
  • Florida: IV
  • Georgia: V
  • Iowa: III
  • Indiana: ISSMA SENIOR BAND GROUP II
  • Louisiana: III
  • Michigan: Senior High B
  • Minnesota: II
  • Mississippi: IV-A, V-A, VI-A
  • North Carolina: V
  • Oklahoma: III-A
  • South Carolina: IV
  • Tennessee: III. Complete
  • Texas: III. Complete
  • Virginia: III


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Illinois Valley Central High School (Chillicothe) Wind Ensemble (Matthew J. Chapman, conductor) – 27 February 2020
  • University of Central Florida (Orlando) Concert Band (Scott Lubaroff, conductor) – 23 February 2020
  • LaVilla School of the Performing Arts (Jacksonville, Fla.) Band (Ann Adams, conductor) – 20 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 Southern Division Conference, Natchitoches, La.)
  • University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Wind Symphony (Jamal Duncan, conductor) – 25 November 2019
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Concert Band (Beverly Taylor, conductor) – 24 November 2019
  • Oklahoma City (Okla.) University Wind Philharmonic (Tyler Stone, conductor) – 7 November 2019
  • State University of New York Potsdam Concert Band (William L. Lake, Jr.)– 10 October 2019
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Orchestra (Beth Peterson, conductor) – 22 September 2019
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Symphony Band (George Boulden, conductor) – 15 September 2019
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Concert Band (Eric Allen, conductor) – 29 April 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic Band (Eric M. Smedley, conductor) – 2 April 2019
  • Sacramento (Calif.) State University Concert Band (Matthew Morse, conductor) – 13 March 2019
  • Northshore Concert Band (Evanston, Ill.) (Mallory Thompson, conductor) - 10 February 2019
  • Graceland University (Lamoni, Iowa) Symphonic Band (Chee Weng Yim, conductor) - 4 December 2018
  • Keene (N.H.) State College Concert Band (Joshua E. Long, conductor) - 1 November 2019
  • Baldwin-Wallace College (Berea, Ohio) Symphonic Band (Brendan Caldwell, conductor) – 19 October 2018
  • University of Arizona (Tucson) Wind Symphony (Chad Shoopman, conductor) – 25 April 2018
  • Youngstown (Ohio) State University Wind Ensemble (Stephen L. Gage, conductor) – 25 April 2018
  • Bellefonte (Penn.) Community Band (Joshua Long, conductor) - 22 April 2018
  • University of Wisconsin-Parkside Community Band and Wind Ensemble (Laura Rexroth, conductor) – 8 March 2018
  • Orcas Island (Wash.) Community Band (Jim Shaffer-Bauck, conductor) – 17 December 2017


Works for Winds by this Composer


References

  • Brahms, J.; Buehlman, B. [1970]. Blessed Are They : From A German Requiem [score]. Ludwig Music: Cleveland, Oh.
  • A German Requiem (Brahms), Wikipedia
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 279-285.