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Britten's War Requiem
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Britten's War Requiem

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“My subject is War, and the pity of War. …

“My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity …
All a poet can do today is warn."
Benjamin Britten

Original on iCloud: http://ow.ly/3jZPSd on iCloud, via #jordanconductor

more at http://www.jordanrsmith.com

Published in: Education, News & Politics

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  • Jordan, I wrote a bio on Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau a few years back, which mentioned the War Requiem. Here's an excerpt:
    ------------------------------
    Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was born into a middle-class family in Berlin. His parents, both educators, shared with their son a love of literature and music. Fischer- Dieskau's paternal ancestors were mostly Protestant clergymen, and one of his maternal ancestors is me- morialized in a Berlin monument depicting Frederick the Great and Ceneral Baron von Dieskau, an artillery expert and inventor of a light cannon de- picted on the monument, known as Dieskaus.

    The British composer Benjamin Britten requested that Fischer-Dieskau sing the premiere performance of War Requiem (1962), given in Coventry, England, in1962. This premiere was part of a series of consecration ceremonies for the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed in a German air raid in 1940. Fischer-Dieskau contin- ued to sing performances of the War Requiem throughout his career as an oratorio soloist. Soon after the premiere, he recorded it with soprano Calina Vishnievskay, tenor Peter Pears, the Melos Ensemble of London, and the London Symphony Orchestra, with the composer conducting. As is often the case with Fischer-Dieskau's recordings, this effort remains unparalleled in intensity and expression.

    The oratorio is an attempt at international reconciliation, with soloists coming from Germany (Fischer-Dieskau), the Soviet Union (Vishnievskay),and England (Pears), all memorializing the great loss of life in World War I and World War II. Although Fischer-Dieskau was not a pacifist (as was Britten), he was not attracted to the social and political goals of the Third Reich, and he resisted his conscription into the German army. Tall and lanky, ill-suited for a combat role, he finally joined as required, and he was quickly captured by Allied forces.

    Fischer-Dieskau's war experience certainly colored his singing of this piece, although a more personal experience is at the heart of his relationship with the War Requiem. One of the main baritone so- Ios draws its text from Wilfred Owen's sonnet 'On Seeing a Piece of Our Artillery Brought into Action.' The segment is set in a highly dramatic musical style, including a fusillade of kettle drums announcing the deployment of the artillery. For Fischer-Dieskau, who grew up in Berlin, admiring the monument that included his ancestor, this combination of words and music must have been shattering. As reported by Michael Steinberg in his book 'Choral Masterworks,' tenor Pears recalled that he 'could hardly get his colleague (Fischer-Dieskau) to stand and Ieave the choir stalls at the end of the Covenrrv performance.'

    Fischer-Dieskau's ability to take the universality of the war experience, to add his own personal experience, and to sing in English (for him a foreign language) is indicative of the singer's singular power of artistic achievement.
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  • 1. B R I T T E N ' S W A R R E Q U I E M J O R D A N S M I T H
  • 2. – B E N J A M I N B R I T T E N “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity … All a poet can do today is warn."
  • 3. C O V E N T R Y C A T H E D R A L 1 9 6 2 P R E M I E R E
  • 4. C O V E N T R Y C A T H E D R A L 1 9 6 2 P R E M I E R E
  • 5. F L O O R P L A N C O V E N T R Y C A T H E D R A L
  • 6. C O V E N T R Y C A T H E D R A L
  • 7. C O V E N T R Y C A T H E D R A L 1 9 6 2 P R E M I E R E
  • 8. C O V E N T R Y C A T H E D R A L 1 9 6 2 P R E M I E R E
  • 9. C O V E N T R Y C A T H E D R A L 1 9 6 2 P R E M I E R E
  • 10. C O V E N T R Y C A T H E D R A L 1 9 6 2 P R E M I E R E
  • 11. I . R E Q U I E M A E T E R N A M W A R R E Q U I E M
  • 12. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : L A N G U A G E L A T I N E N G L I S H L A T I N
  • 13. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : L A N G U A G E L A T I N E N G L I S H L A T I N 6 : 1 0 2 : 3 0 1 : 2 0
  • 14. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : L A N G U A G E L A T I N E N G L I S H L A T I N 6 : 1 0 2 : 3 0 1 : 2 0
  • 15. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : L A N G U A G E L A T I N E N G L I S H L A T I N 6 : 1 0 2 : 3 0 1 : 2 0 62 % 25 % 13 %
  • 16. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : O R C H E S T R A T I O N C H O R B O Y C H O R T E N O R C H O R O R C H O R G A N O R C H C H O R C H -
  • 17. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : O R C H E S T R A T I O N C H O R B O Y C H O R T E N O R C H O R O R C H O R G A N O R C H C H O R C H - 2 8 M M 3 2 M M 1 6 M M 8 8 M M 1 1 M M 3 : 1 5 1 : 0 5 1 : 5 0 2 : 3 0 1 : 2 0
  • 18. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : O R C H E S T R A T I O N C H O R B O Y C H O R T E N O R C H O R O R C H O R G A N O R C H C H O R C H - 2 8 M M 3 2 M M 1 6 M M 8 8 M M 1 1 M M 3 : 1 5 1 : 0 5 1 : 5 0 2 : 3 0 1 : 2 0 L L L E L
  • 19. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : O R C H E S T R A T I O N C H O R B O Y C H O R T E N O R C H O R O R C H O R G A N O R C H C H O R C H - 2 8 M M 3 2 M M 1 6 M M 8 8 M M 1 1 M M 3 : 1 5 1 : 0 5 1 : 5 0 2 : 3 0 1 : 2 0 L L L E L 33% 11% 18% 25% 13%
  • 20. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : O R C H E S T R A T I O N C H O R B O Y C H O R T E N O R C H O R O R C H O R G A N O R C H C H O R C H - 2 8 M M 3 2 M M 1 6 M M 8 8 M M 1 1 M M 3 : 1 5 1 : 0 5 1 : 5 0 2 : 3 0 1 : 2 0 L L L E L 33% 11% 18% 25% 13% 62 % 25% 13%
  • 21. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : S E C T I O N S A B A C B C A F # / C T E R T I A N F # / C N O N " B I - T " N O N F # / C R E Q U I E M E T L U X T E D E C E T E X A U D I R E Q U I E M W H A T P A S S I N G B E L L S N O T I N T H E H A N D S O F B O YS A N D E A C H S L O W D U S K K YR I E O R C H B O Y O R C H C H C H C H O R C H 3 : 1 5 1 : 0 5 1 : 5 0 1 : 1 0 1 : 0 0 : 2 0 1 : 2 0
  • 22. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : S E C T I O N S A B A C B C A F # / C T E R T I A N F # / C N O N " B I - T " N O N F # / C R E Q U I E M E T L U X T E D E C E T E X A U D I R E Q U I E M W H A T P A S S I N G B E L L S N O T I N T H E H A N D S O F B O YS A N D E A C H S L O W D U S K K YR I E O R C H B O Y O R C H C H C H C H O R C H 3 : 1 5 1 : 0 5 1 : 5 0 1 : 1 0 1 : 0 0 : 2 0 1 : 2 0 33% 11% 18% 12% 10% 3% 13%
  • 23. O R G A N I Z A T I O N : S E C T I O N S A B A C B C A F # / C T E R T I A N F # / C N O N " B I - T " N O N F # / C R E Q U I E M E T L U X T E D E C E T E X A U D I R E Q U I E M W H A T P A S S I N G B E L L S N O T I N T H E H A N D S O F B O YS A N D E A C H S L O W D U S K K YR I E O R C H B O Y O R C H C H C H C H O R C H 3 : 1 5 1 : 0 5 1 : 5 0 1 : 1 0 1 : 0 0 : 2 0 1 : 2 0 33% 11% 18% 12% 10% 3% 13% 62 % 25% 13%
  • 24. T H A N K Y O U