The last things (Spohr)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Title page of the piano reduction

The Last Things (WoO 61) is an oratorio by Louis Spohr . The composition was written between 1825 and 1826. The libretto is by Friedrich Rochlitz , whom he met in Leipzig in 1804 and contains only texts from the Bible, especially from the Revelation of John . The very successful premiere was in the Lutheran Church in Kassel on Good Friday March 24, 1826. The performance at the Music Festival in Düsseldorf in 1826 was so overwhelming that the festival was extended by one day to allow a second performance. The English singer and music journalist Edward Taylor (1784-1863) wrote a successful English version, which was performed on September 24, 1830 for the first time.


With his first oratorio The Last Judgment from 1812, Spohr did not reach the audience and he was later so dissatisfied with his piece that he did not want to perform any of its parts himself. His second oratorio The Last Things , on the other hand, is one of the composer's most famous works and is considered the most important of his four oratorios. It was played widely in the first half of the 19th century and was highly praised in its day and was also successful in England. At the beginning of the 21st century, despite its high musical quality in terms of instrumentation and expressive chromatics, it is hardly known. To mark the 150th anniversary of the composer's death in 2009, new editions of sheet music have appeared on the market and the oratorio is being performed more frequently again.

The Last Things has a duration of about 80 to 90 minutes and is designed for an amateur choir in conjunction with trained soloists and a professional orchestra. Spohr stands musically "... in a line between Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn".


Spohr uses four soloists (SATB) and a four-part choir (SATB); the orchestra corresponds to a “classical” line-up with double woodwinds and brass, three trombones, timpani and strings ( - - timp - ).

Handwritten tradition

Facsimile of a fragment by Louis Spohr

The autograph score from Spohr's hand no longer exists. Only a few short fragments of the work remain from Spohr's hand, which he left behind in guest books as a kind of musical calling card. There are some copies that were copied under Spohr's supervision.

  • A copy of the score with the signature Rf 1239 in the library of the Cologne University of Music and Dance . It was created in 1826.
  • A copy of the score, signed MS 593, in the Royal College of Music , London. The date of creation is not clear, it could be the copy that was used for the English premiere on September 24, 1830.
  • A copy of the score is in the University Library in Giessen under the shelf number NF 179. It was not included in the critical edition.
  • Copies of the individual parts can be found under the signature Mu. A 130 in the Lübeck City Library . There are two additional parts for violoncello and viola for No. 16, which probably come from Gottfried Herrmann .
  • A score of the overture and the sinfonia and other parts can be found in the Thuringian State Archives in Rudolstadt under the shelfmarks HKR 2909 and HKR 2911.

Further copies have been found, but most of them are lost today.

  • A handwritten piano reduction by Edward Taylor with the English text can be found under the signature MS 5232 in the Royal College of Music. Some notes have been changed to match the English text. The manuscript contains additional information for the typesetter and subsequent numbering.


  • The piano reduction by the brother and student of the composer Ferdinand Spohr (1792–1831) was self-published in 1827. It is the first printed sheet music with German text.
  • The handwritten vocal score by Taylor is the template for the vocal score by Taylor with the English text, published by Novello in London in 1831 . Since the English edition was published during Spohr's lifetime and with his consent, the English version with Taylor's text is an authorized version of the work.
  • The first print of the vocal parts appeared in Berlin in 1836 by Simrock .
  • The orchestral parts first appeared in print in 1858 by Novello.
  • The first printing of the score with Taylor's German and English text did not take place until 1881 in London by Novello.

The differences between the various prints and manuscripts in the music are marginal; the differences relate, for example, to the slurs or dynamic markings, which are sometimes missing in some copies. In 2009, Carus published a text-critical sheet music edition in German and English based on the most important sources.


The overture introduces the entire work and the first part, the sinfonia the second part symphonically. The symphonic parts already contain a number of motifs which later recur as leitmotifs in the individual parts. Certain text passages also appear several times and bring about an intensive interlocking of the various parts. The soloists sometimes act as lead singers or alternately with the choir, so that soloists and choir appear together several times and form a unit. Particularly striking in the second part are some choral movements that begin in a great unison and then fan out into several voices ( if you seek me with all your heart , Babylon is pleased and the final chorus Your works are great and wonderful ). Spohr largely refrains from dramatizing the final judgment, placing great emphasis on prayer and the festive character of the music. In contrast to his first work, the work does not contain any large solo arias in order to maintain the unity of the work. The solo parts also dispense with difficult coloratura or virtuoso parts.

The original score is conceived as a complete work, the headings and numbering have been added by the editors of the prints for a better overview and therefore differ in the various editions. According to the Carus edition, the parts are numbered and labeled as follows:

  1. overture

First part:

  1. Praise and honor him (choir, solos S, B)
  2. Climb up (recitative, solos B, T)
  3. Holy, Holy (Solo T, Choir)
  4. And see, a lamb that was wounded (recitative, solos S, T)
  5. The Lamb That Is Strangled (Solo S, Choir)
  6. And all creature (recitative, solo T) / Worship (choir with solo T)
  7. And see, a large crowd (recitative, solos T, A)
  8. Heil the Merciful (choir and quartet)

Second part:

  1. Sinfonia
  2. So speaks the Lord (recitative, solo B)
  3. Don't be terrible in times of need (Duet S, T)
  4. If you seek me with all your heart (chorus in unison)
  5. The Hour of Judgment (Recitative, Solo T)
  6. Babylon has fallen (chorus) / It has happened! (Recitative, Solo T)
  7. Blessed are the dead (choir and quartet)
  8. See a new heaven (recitative, solos S, A)
  9. And see, I'm coming soon (recitative, solo T and quartet)
  10. Your works are great and wonderful (quartet and choir)

Metronome marks

The metronome indications in the printed editions follow the original indications by Spohr, but many pieces appeared in earlier times to be notated too slowly, contrary to performance and listening habits. Taylor assumed a full movement of two beats back and forth in the metronome markings and therefore halved the note value. This gave him twice the speed. This, in turn, is already felt by the audience at that time to be far too fast. Some English editions therefore give suggestions in the foreword for less strongly changed, but faster than the original tempi.



Secondary literature

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Autobiography, Vol. 1http: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3D~GB%3DoDs9AAAAcAAJ%26pg~IA%3D~MDZ%3D%0A~SZ%3DPA81~doppelseiten%3D~LT%3DSelbstbiographie%2C%20Bd.%201~PUR%3D , p. 81.
  2. Autobiography, Vol. 1http: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3D~GB%3DoDs9AAAAcAAJ%26pg~IA%3D~MDZ%3D%0A~SZ%3DPA171~doppelseiten%3D~LT%3DSelbstbiographie%2C%20Bd.%201~PUR%3D , p. 171.
  3. Autobiography, Vol. 1http: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3D~GB%3DoDs9AAAAcAAJ%26pg~IA%3D~MDZ%3D%0A~SZ%3DPA170~doppelseiten%3D~LT%3DSelbstbiographie%2C%20Bd.%201~PUR%3D , p. 170.
  4. Spohr wrote on November 23, 1856 to his pupil Ernst Reiter in Basel: “The work is very suitable for a performance by a society of diletantes; choirs and solos are not difficult and grateful to sing. The orchestral part, however, is not so easy, especially the two overtures and the large bass recitative of the 2nd part have to be carefully practiced. ”Quoted from the foreword of the score of the Carus Edition v. 2009, SV " Diletant " does not have today's negative connotation, but stands for participants who are not trained professional musicians.
  5. ^ Critique by Andreas Hauffhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/ 3D ~ IA% 3D ~ MDZ% 3D% 0A ~ SZ% 3D ~ double-sided% 3D ~ LT% 3DKritik% 20von% 20Andreas% 20Hauff ~ PUR% 3D
  6. The details of the manuscripts are taken from the critical report on the score by Carus (2009), pp. 264–267.
  7. The details of the prints are taken from the critical report of the score by Carus (2009), pp. 264–267. The prints themselves are partly without dates.
  8. Publishing information at Carus