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Brahms, Requiem: Pronunciation

Date: 02 Feb 97 04:26:59 EST
From: Tom Cunningham
Subject: German pronunciation compilation

Many thanks to the 18 choralisters who replied to my request about the repeated
d's in phrases from Brahms' Requiem:
"und die Blume", "Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen", "Selig sind die Toten"

Opinions were divided: 9 voted for one d, 6 for two and 3 for "it depends". One
German correspondent sent two replies: the first saying "one d", the second
changing his mind to two!

All the replies were interesting, but here are just a few extracts.

David Griggs-Janower said:
ever NOT say unT Die, with two consonants, rather than eliding them. For
what it's worth. Of course Helmuth's bent is toward the percussive,
Bach-like sound of the language...>>

but David Topping said:
with Helmuth Rilling (and other conductors), I observed exactly this
same phenomenon. It simply boils down to a "conductor's choice"
each time one syllable ends with t or d and the next syllable begins
with t or d, because this is one of the rare exceptions where the
extremely organized German language has no rules! In the Brahms,
if I were going for legato, I'd "elide" them, rather than separating.>>

Nina Gilbert added:
re-articulate the consonant, but the general rule I use is that you combine
them (think of "ck-g" in, say, "backgammon," for example).>>

Uwe Schmidt, from the Rhine, wrote:
Sometimes it is right to make a liasion between the two consonants,
especially in a fast movement. Your example "bist du" could be Schubert "Wie
schoen bist du" and I would speak t + d. I almost always use the two
consonants when the first one is on a dotted note and the second starts with
the smaller note. I don't do that when the context is too fast.
I don't have the Brahms here to check, but in your given examples I think I
would sind "undie Blume", "sind deine Wohnungen" and "sind die Toten".
I fear that does not help too much but every German conductor has the same
problem and has to find a solution for every single case.>>

Charles Hausmann said:
other works in German for him) the double consonants were required - he is
a stickler on diction and communication of text.>>

Stefan Schuck, from Berlin, gave a more detailed reply:
case a problem - also for German-speaking conductors. There is only
one advice:
Speak only ONE D when the musical line dominates the need of text
clarity. (In:" Selig sind die Toten" I would do so )
When you need rhythmic impulses or a more distinct sound, you may
separate the consonants.

Some suggestions:
Never join together the words "Leid tragen"
"Die mi - Traenen"
"un - tragen edlen Samen"

"Alle Herrlichkeit des ..."
" un - die Blume..."

"Wie lieblich sin -deine ..."

"Zu der Zeit der letzten Posaune"

"... un - duch deinen Willen... ">>

Thomas Remenschneider says:
worked with was correct. There should be one "d" in a passage such as
"sind die Toten." In my experience, it should be sung with a firm
articulation of the "d" so there is a realization of two words being sung.>>

Heiner Arden from Luebeck, Germany writes:
"un-die Blume, "Wie lieblich sin-deine Wohnungen", Selig sin-die Toten"
Important are the long vocals before the ending "nd">>

And finally, Jeroen Schrijner gives the opinion of the Marktoberdorf Music
Regarding my other question on German vowels, I received many different
suggestions for which I'm immensely grateful. However I'll only quote one, from
Jim Feiszli:

Many thanks again, choralisters!

Tom Cunningham
Brussels, Belgium
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