Feb 17, 2022
In 1902, the great French composer Gabriel Faure said this: “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. As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different."
Faure’s requiem is part of a long tradition of master composers addressing death through Requiems. Mozart, Brahms, Verdi, Britten, Berlioz, Beethoven(to a certain extent), and many many other composers all tried their hands at the Requiem, some of them keeping to Requiem Mass traditions, and some striking out completely on their own. Most notably, Brahms barely followed the traditional Requiem mass at all, preferring to use his own favorite biblical texts. Faure was also a composer who followed his own beat throughout his life, and perhaps one of his best known works is his modest and humble Requiem, which omits the fire and brimstone of famous requiems like Verdi’s, and focuses more on what he called the ‘happy deliverance’ of death. What results is a remarkably inward looking piece, with only 30 or so measures sung at the loudest possible dynamic. It’s a piece that only lasts around 35 minutes, and was actually first performed as part of a liturgical funeral service. Faure’s Requiem is music of mysticism and comfort, brilliantly conceived from start to finish in Faure’s own unique way. We’re going to talk a bit about Faure the man and the composer today, since it ties in so much to how he conceived of this requiem, and then of course, all about the Requiem itself on this Patreon sponsored episode. Join us!