Benjamin Britten's War Requiem - a call
for peace with a multinational cast. Music to make you think.
1961 - the Berlin Wall, Cuba, Vietnam. 1961 - Coventry
Cathedral, destroyed in an air raid during World War II, is
rebuilt. 1961 - music's most famous pacifist, Benjamin Britten,
composes his War Requiem for performance in the new
This ambitious and daring music caused an immediate sensation.
It combined the traditional words of the Latin Requiem mass with
anti-war poems by Wilfred Owen. It drew on huge forces - two
choirs, two orchestras and three soloists.
The intended soloists carried symbolic weight: an English tenor
and a German baritone ("I am the enemy you killed, my friend") and
a Russian soprano. Our cast represents the same mix of
nationalities. And while half a century has elapsed, this protest
against the horrors of war retains its power to do what Britten
hoped: to make us "think a bit".
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