My sophomore year at Smith, when our director introduced the Brahms Requiem to the Glee Club, he told us that if he had to pick only one great choral work to survive destruction, this would probably be it. Several people were amazed that he hadn't chosen the Mozart Requiem, but I quickly came to agree with him. I fell in love with the Brahms, and even after we performed the Mozart my senior year, I didn't change my mind. The Mozart was great, but the Brahms was transcendent for me. It spoke to my heart at a time when I needed to hear that kind of language - by which I mean both the texts and the music. And it has continued to be the most powerful piece I've ever performed OR heard. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that my German is better than my Latin, though my requiem Latin is pretty decent (or was). Certainly I'm proud to have been part of a performance whose CD version is actually worth listening to - I go back and forth between ours and the Chicago Symphony version. I'm sure part of my love for the piece is the timing - that year in general, and the performance date specifically (the day before what would have been Emily's 21st birthday). But the piece itself is also an amazing work of art and prayer. It's become a regular part of my Holy Week listening:
Nun Herr, wess soll ich mich trösten?
Ich hoffe auf dich.
Tod, wo ist dein Stachel? Hölle, wo ist dein Sieg?