Established in 1987, The Octavian Singers have gained a justified reputation for achieving high musical standards. The group performs a wide variety of music from Baroque to 21st Century, madrigals...
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The Octavian Singers perform at least three concerts each year, usually in the spring, summer and winter, at established venues near Woking, Surrey. Next concert Brahms’ Requiem, Saturday April...
The group performs a wide variety of music from Baroque to 21st Century, madrigals to major choral works.
On Saturday April 27th at St Mary of Bethany Church Woking, the Octavian Singers will be performing Brahms’ wonderful and ever-popular German Requiem in the version he arranged for 2 pianos. It is regularly performed by Choral Societies all over the world since its composition in 1860s Leipzig.
The work is often thought to have been inspired by the death of Brahms mother in 1865 as expressed by Clara Schumann and Joachim, both close friends of Brahms. However there is also a thesis that it is in memory of Robert Schumann who had so inspired Brahms as a young man. Brahms started work on the Requiem in 1866 and finished most of the work a year later. The fifth movement, an aria for soprano, was added in May 1868 and Brahms himself stated that this was in memory of his mother.
Vienna was the city where the first performance was given of only the first three movements and it had a mixed reception. On Good Friday 1868 the work was performed in Bremen Cathedral (without the fifth movement which had not yet been written). The complete Requiem was finally performed at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in 1869, conducted by Reinecke, the director of music there as well as teacher at the Conservatoire.
This powerful programme will also feature the music of those who were contemporaries of Brahms, who studied in Leipzig at the same time and who were inspired by the great man. Our first link brought us to Dame Ethel Smyth, a most renowned composer, suffragette and musician local to Woking.
Ethel Smyth had been greatly inspired by Brahms and was desperate to study in Leipzig. She wrote several large-scale works which were well received at the time, an opera, The Wreckers, and a Mass which is still performed today. We will sing a couple of her smaller scale pieces, one of which is her March of the Women written for the WSPU.
Ethel Smyth met Tchaikovsky at Adolph Brodsky’s house in Leipzig in the 1880s and struck up a great friendship with him (although he didn’t care for Brahms’ music!) based partly on their mutual love of dogs! We will sing a couple of short pieces by Tchaikovsky including his Crown of Roses.
Tchaikovsky and Grieg also met at the Brodsky’s house in Leipzig and again found much to admire in each other, keeping up a long correspondence. Our concert includes a couple of short pieces by Grieg for men’s voices and his wonderful Ave Maris Stella.
Also in the concert are pieces by Carl Reinecke who was teacher of composition at the Conservatoire in Leipzig and pieces by Heinrich von Herzogenberg who taught composition privately and who was a friend of Brahms. It was Herzogenberg who first saw the draft of Brahms’ Four Serious Songs op.121. It is also thought that Ethel Smyth had an affair with Herzogenberg’s wife while living there and pursuing her musical education.
Tickets £10 on the door, include German wine and sausages. Under 16s free.Read More