The second performance of Honvéd Male Choir’s Spring 2022 season will focus on Goethe‘s poetry. Both the lyrics of Brahms‘s Alto Rhapsody and Rinaldo were written by Goethe.
The text of the Alto Rhapsody consists of verses 5-7 of the poem entitled “Winter Journey in the Harz” (Harzreise im Winter). Its painful tone reflects the emotional world of Romanticism. Brahms wished to marry Julie Schumann, the daughter of Robert Schumann and Clara Schumann, but the girl’s parents preferred to marry her to an Italian count instead. The extremely depressed general atmosphere of the Altro Rhapsody is due to the composer’s state of great disappointment and despair in which he wrote it; and then gave it to Clara Schumann as a wedding present on her wedding day.
Rinaldo is also a direct evocation of a romantic soul tormented by doubts of love, based on the story of Rinaldo in Torquato Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered. The lyrics of the cantata is based is Goethe’s only work written specifically as a libretto for the great music lover, the Grand Duke of Weimar. The first musical setting – by Peter Winter – has by now been completely forgotten. Goethe’s story tells of Rinaldo’s escape from the spell of the enchantress Armida. It abounds in romantic emotions and dramatic turns, giving Brahms’s imagination an excellent opportunity to unfold.
Although their great artistic and spiritual value cannot be disputed, the works are not often heard on the concert stage, mainly because they are extremely difficult to perform. This is why the March concert will be an exciting challenge for the Male Choir and a unique musical experience for the audience.