Brahms Deutsche Volkslieder. Folksongs from the heart

The Choir will be performing Brahms Deutsche Volkslieder Nr, 1-14 at the Choral Fesival in Istria this coming April and at our Summer Concert in June. This is a cycle of secular choruses, the first half having been composed by Brahms as a young man through to those composed by him towards the end of his life.

Brahms was probably the first great composer to value folksong as a source of inspiration and renewal, a source of national pride and a gift to composers that came directly from the people—a provenance that was sometimes more a matter of fantasy than reality. He was singularly in love with the idea of folksong as a kind of manifestation of national unity (and this before the unification of Germany in 1871), and there are few other composers who took such painstaking care to incorporate folksong melodies into their compositions. When it comes to folksong in Germany there is no composer before or since who has done as much as Johannes Brahms and this may have something to do with the fact that he always identified himself deep down, and with considerable contrariness, as a working-class, rather than a middle-class, artist.

ref: Graham Johnson 2010