Kiel, Friedrich


Kiel, Friedrich

Requiem in A flat major for solo, chorus and orchestra op.80 (Vocal Score)

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Kiel, Friedrich

Requiem in A flat major for solo, chorus and orchestra op.80 (Vocal Score)

When Friedrich Kiel died in 1885, his obituary in The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular described him as “one of the most profound contrapuntists of modern Germany” who occupied “a position of acknowledged pre-eminence as a composer of sacred music.”2 Sacred compositions were indeed among his most successful ones, and it was the première of his Requiem in F minor Op. 20 – the first of his two compositions in this genre – that made him famous at a compara- tively late stage in his life (at the age of 40) in 1862. Wilhelm Langhans may have gone a little bit far when calling Kiel “the head of Protestant church music of our fatherland” in his review of the composer’s second Requiem in A flat major Op. 80 (premièred nineteenth years after its predecessor in 1881, also in Berlin),2 but it is clear that his music was much better known and influential at that time than today, when the composer’s memory has faded from public consciousness. As a Protestant, Kiel did not write his requiems for liturgical purposes but – like most other composers at the time – for the concert hall; although he neither altered the wording of the Latin text like Berlioz, nor based the work on his own selection of biblical texts like Brahms. Kiel, unlike Verdi for instance, dedicated neither of his requiems to a particular person whose memory such a composition could celebrate and, to an extent, keep alive. Furthermore, a requiem composi- tion written for the concert hall does not fulfil the traditional functions of the mass of the dead, such as an intercession on behalf of a deceased person or a consolation for the bereaved family and friends. Instead, composers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were often attracted to setting this text due to its dramatic structure and its rich and powerful language, particularly in the “Dies irae” sequence. In addition, a requiem often represents a composer’s personal statement about death and afterlife, which does not need to conform to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
In his review of Kiel’s A flat major Requiem, Langhans compares the work with Kiel’s first mass of the dead in F minor: “The two works have in common the great earnestness, the noblesse, which characterise Kiel’s manner in general

[…]. On the other hand, the two works are essentially dissimilar as regards the general spirit pervading them. While in the older requiem an austere, an almost sombre character predominates, the author has in the present instance shown a more gentle and conciliatory disposition, which sheds an idealised light over the whole.”3
An additional aspect separating the two pieces, not mentioned by the reviewer, is the harmonic language: between Kiel’s two requiems Wagner’sTristan und Isolde and Der Ring des Nibelungen had hit the musical world, leaving clear traces in some sections of the A flat major Requiem indicated by rich chromaticism and a more complex harmonic language with
quick moves to remote keys. In the orchestra Kiel uses mainly double winds and brass (except for a third trombone), yet complements the two bassoons of the lower woodwind section by a contrabassoon and a basset horn. While the latter is a rare member of a nineteenth-century orchestra, its prominent inclusion in Mozart’s requiem may have prompted Kiel’s decision to add it to his score…

For more information on the piece:

Read the preface to the full score / das Vorwort zur Partitur lesen > HERE



Score Data

Score No.



Repertoire Explorer

Special Edition

Choir/Voice & Orchestra


225 x 320 mm

Performance materials
Piano reduction

Vocal Score



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