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Fauré Requiem

posted Mar 16, 2014, 5:17 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Mar 16, 2014, 5:17 PM ]
In 1888, Gabriel Fauré composed his first version of the Mass for the Dead, which he called un petit Requiem for the funeral of an architect. Over the next two years, he expanded its length to 35-minutes, reworked it for full orchestra, and premiered his Requiem in D minor, Op. 48 at the Paris World’s Fair in 1900. In 1924 it was performed for his own funeral. Its first performance in the United States was at a student concert at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1931.

Fauré altered the official text, changing libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum ("deliver the souls of all the faithful departed") to simply libera animas defunctorum ("deliver the souls of the departed"), which is a fundamental theological change.

He told an interviewer, "Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest. It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience.”

I’m singing a special performance of this choral masterwork on Wednesday, March 26th at 7:30 pm in the sanctuary of Manhattan’s St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral.