About Britten’s War Requiem

Find out more about Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem

 


Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem:
One of the enduring compositions of the 20th century

Our next concert in Canterbury Cathedral celebrates the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, widely considered to be the finest of all Britain’s modern composers. Canterbury Festival 2013 will include Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. The work is written on three levels. The main choir and orchestra sing Latin text based on the Requiem Mass and between these sections are nine settings of First World War poems by Wilfred Owen, sung by the tenor and baritone soloists. The closing section of ‘Reconciliation’ represents the pinnacle of the work, and its overriding theme. The Canterbury Choral Society Youth Choir will sing the part of the Boy’s Choir, an ‘angelic’ comment from afar, as it were looking down on the world’s troubles from Heaven.

The soloists are drawn according to Britten’s plan, from Russia, England and Germany (though the Soviets would not let Galina Vishnevskaya leave Russia to take part in the first performance).

Our soprano, Evelina Dobracheva, is an international star who is well-known for her performances of the War Requiem. She sang the War Requiem in St. Paul’s Cathedral in a broadcast performance earlier this year, and will sing it again next year in New York’s Carnegie Hall next April.  She has also recorded it with the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Benjamin Hulett is well-known to us for his performances with Canterbury Choral Society of Monteverdi’s Vespers and Handel’s Messiah.  One of the outstanding tenors of the rising generation, his voice is perfectly suited to Britten’s poignant setting of Owen’s poem which is performed alongside the Agnus Dei.

Benjamin Appl, another rising star, was the last singer to be mentored by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the German baritone who sang in the first performance in Coventry, and also on Britten’s own recording.


Listen to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, speaking to Mark Lawson about the War Requiem by Benjamin Britten on BBC Radio 4′s Front Row Cultural Exchange (Monday 13 May, 2013)

 


Benjamin Britten online resources

Biography at pbs.org/wnet/gperf/education/britten
Wikipedia article on Benjamin Britten
IMDb at imdb.com/name/nm0891002
Last.fm page on Benjamin Britten
Discogs at discogs.com/artist/Benjamin Britten
MusicBrainz information on Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten on guardian.co.uk
www.britten100.org – celebrating the Centenary of Benjamin Britten
www.brittenpears.org
Benjamin Britten on Canterbury Choral Society News

 


Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem online resources

October 2013 Britten’s War Requiem concert in Canterbury Cathedral
October 2013 Britten’s War Requiem concert soloists in Canterbury Cathedral
Wikipedia article on Britten’s War Requiem
War Requiem Benjamin Britten on YouTube

 


Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in the news

theguardian/Culture/music article on Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem
WAR AND THE PITY OF WAR

Stravinsky sneered but the public loved it, and, nearly 50 years on, Britten’s War Requiem has lost none of its power to move us
Ian Bostridge, The Guardian, Thursday 22 September 2011 21.29 BST

During the night of 14 November 1940, the 14th-century St Michael’s Cathedral in the centre of Coventry was almost completely destroyed by the bombs the Luftwaffe rained down on the city during the Coventry blitz. The same night, more than 4,000 homes were destroyed, along with three-quarters of the city’s factories. Benjamin Britten, a conscientious objector, was living as an exile in America at the time. Twenty-two years later, a new cathedral, designed by architect Basil Spence on a site directly adjacent to the ruins of the original, was consecrated, and on 30 May 1962, Britten’s War Requiem, commissioned for the occasion, was premiered… read more

Evelina Dobracheva sings soprano in Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in St Paul’s Cathedral in June 2013

Read theguardian review of this concert
Britten’s War Requiem; Music in the Space Time Continuum

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