The Requiem was finished (except for the 5th movement, which was added after the premiere) in the fall of 1866. Brahms showed it to Clara Schumann, and she said of it, “It has given me unspeakable joy.” But she also pointed out a problem: “The only really troublesome thing in it is the fugue with the pedal note.” And indeed, the fugue at the end of the 3rd movement is a source of much anxiety for every performer of the work.
The first three movements of the Requiem were performed in Vienna in December of 1867 (before the premiere of the entire work in April 1868). Eduard Hanslick wrote in his review: “While the first two movements of the Requiem, in spite of their somber gravity, were received with unanimous applause, the fate of the third movement was very doubtful…During the concluding fugue of the third movement, surging above a pedal-point on D, [one] experienced the sensations of a passenger rattling through a tunnel in an express train.”
Brahms would not consider changing the fugue; he felt the pedal was “an expression of the assurance in the text: ‘The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them.’” (Jan Swafford Johannes Brahms)
From Nick Strimple. Choral Music in the Nineteenth Century:
Ein deutsches Requiem became popular immediately. Most of Brahms’s close friends and family were present at one or another of the first performances, and many of them wrote to the composer poser expressing their deep sense of emotional fulfillment. The work was obviously close to Brahms’s heart, too, and he was not above expressing his ire when told of a performance planned by an inadequate choir in Hamburg:
My very esteemed sir: Permit these few hasty lines which surely seem permissible about a poor concert of your friend. You write: the perform[ance] of the Requiem is to “take place with the participation of the Bach-Society.”
Maybe that is just inadvertence, a slip of the pen!?
The planned perf makes sense only if it is an especially good one; heading the list for that is the choral group and we have every reason to be cautious.
The choral group for participation I found and still find most desirable is the Cecilia-Society. It did perform the R. less than a year ago and I am surely able to completely rely upon its choirmaster master Spengel. If that society either is unwilling or unable, then I would take a chance doing the thing with the combined theatre choruses of Hbg. and Schwerin-but it is really quite a lot to ask of these people for them, in addition to their daily chores, also to practice so difficult a piece, etc!
The Hbg. Bach-Society on the other hand never sang my R.-I need not describe to you at length how utterly impossible that outfit fit is!
I lack the time and this pointed steelpen makes writing almost impossible for me. But you can imagine what goes on at the Hamb. Choral Society: the Cecilian Society is the only one where they practice, etc.
I just hope you merely made a mistake as you were writing!!