Dresden amen (Dresdner Amen) is a sequence of six notes sung by
choirs during church services in the German state of
Saxony since the
beginning of the 19th century. The motif was first used in, and is
particularly associated with, the city of Dresden.
The sequence has been used in various forms by composers since the
Dresden amen was composed by
Johann Gottlieb Naumann
Johann Gottlieb Naumann (1741–1801)
for use in the Royal chapel in Dresden. Such was its popularity that
it spread to other churches, both
Catholic and Lutheran, in Saxony.
Dresden amen" is actually the second and third parts of a
Use in classical music
Felix Mendelssohn used the
Dresden amen in his fifth symphony, the
"Reformation". In the first movement, the theme appears in the
The theme was also used by Richard Wagner, most notably in his last
opera, Parsifal. Wagner was a
Dresden from 1842 to
1849; however, he would probably have learnt the motif as a boy
attending church in Dresden. It was incorporated into one of his
earliest operas, Das Liebesverbot, and also appears in the third act
Anton Bruckner used the
Dresden amen in several motets (Christus
factus est WAB 11, Virga Jesse WAB 52 and Vexilla regis WAB 51),
the finale of his Fifth Symphony and the adagio of his last symphony,
the Ninth, while
Gustav Mahler incorporated it into the last movement
of his first symphony, "Titan".
Manuel de Falla
Manuel de Falla quoted from it in his
incidental music for Calderón de la Barca's El gran teatro del mundo.
Alexander Scriabin inserted a theme reminiscent of the
Dresden amen in
the first movement (Luttes ["Struggles"]) of his Symphony no. 3.
Eric Ball's tone poem The Kingdom Triumphant, a musical picture of the
first and second coming of Christ, uses the
Dresden amen prior to the
presentation of the hymn Helmsley with its associated words "Lo, He
comes with clouds descending".
Carl Davis used the
Dresden Amen prominently in his score for the
sound-added reissue of the 1925 silent film Ben-Hur, particularly in
scenes featuring the life of Christ.
John Sanders based his Responses for Evensong on the
^ van Zwol, Cornelius (2012).
Anton Bruckner – Leven en Werken.
Thot. ISBN 90-686-8590-2.
C. F. E. BACH motif
Richard Wagner's Parsifal
The Evil Forest (1951)
Perceval, the Story of the Grail