The Berlin Requiem (Weill)

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The Berlin Requiem (German: Das Berliner Requiem) is a 1928 composition for tenor, baritone, and choir of three male voices and orchestra by Kurt Weill to poems by Bertolt Brecht.[1] The work had been commissioned by the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft who intended to broadcast the work on all its stations. However Brecht failed to abide by his contractual obligation to show the poems to the commissioning body for advance approval and the content, some of it a memorial to Rosa Luxembourg, led to several stations banning the performance.[2]

In late 1928 Kurt Weill accepted a commission from Radio Frankfurt for a new work, which he duly fulfilled with Das Berliner Requiem (The Berlin Requiem). In collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, Weill selected several of Brecht's preexisting poems in order to craft what he termed a "secular requiem that gives voice to contemporary Man's feelings about death." All of the texts used in the Berlin Requiem deal specifically with forgotten dead; faceless war casualties, or victims of violent crime whose bodies are disposed of in an undetected location. The work is economically scored for three-voice male chorus, wind band, guitar, banjo, and organ. Often the accompaniment texture is extremely spare, with much of the "Ballade vom entrunkenen Mädchen" supported by guitar alone.



  1. Grosser Dankchoral: Lobet die Nacht (Great Chorale of Thanksgiving)
  2. Ballade vom ertrunkenen Mädchen: Als sie ertrunken war und hinunterschwamm (Ballad of the Drowned Girl)
  3. Marterl: Hier ruht die Jungfrau Johanna Beck (Memorial Tablet)
  4. (alternate to 3) Grabschrift 1919 (Gravestone 1919): Die rote Rosa schon lang verschwand
  5. Erster Bericht über den unbekannten Soldaten: Wir kamen von den Gebirgen (First Report on the Unknown Soldier)
  6. Zweiter Bericht über den unbekannten Soldaten: Alles, was ich euch sagte (Second Report on the Unknown Soldier)
  7. Zu Postsdam unter den Eichen (To Potsdam under the Oak Trees)



  1. ^ John Fuegi Bertolt Brecht: Chaos, According to Plan 1987 0521282454 p.68 "These were: The Berlin Requiem (for radio, in collaboration with Kurt Weill)"
  2. ^ Peter Jelavich Berlin Alexanderplatz: Radio, Film, and the Death of Weimar Culture 2006 0520931645 p.119 "Indeed, despite his frequent public calls for freedom of expression, Heilmann once before had been a crucial swing voter regarding a controversial cultural work: the Berlin Requiem, a set of morbid poems by Bertolt Brecht set to music by Kurt Weil..."
  3. ^ a b Uncle Dave Lewis (2018). "Das Berliner Requiem, cantata for tenor, baritone, male chorus & wind orchestra". Retrieved 2018-09-19.