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Thread: BENJAMIN BRITTEN: His War Requiem

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    Junior Member RonPrice's Avatar
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    Default BENJAMIN BRITTEN: His War Requiem

    Benjamin Britten(1913-1976) was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He showed prodigious talent from an early age, composing Quatre Chansons françaises for soprano and orchestra at the age of fourteen. He first came to public attention with a cappella choral work A Boy Was Born. With the premiere of his opera Peter Grimes in 1945 he entered international fame and, for the next fifteen years, he devoted much of his compositional attention to writing operas, several of which now appear regularly on international stages. Britten's interests as a composer were wide-ranging. He produced important music in such varied genres as: orchestral, choral, chamber, instrumental, solo vocal--much of it written for the tenor Peter Pears--as well as film music. He also took a great interest in writing music for child and amateur performers.

    Three months before my pioneering-travelling life for the Canadian Baha’i community began at the age of 18 in August 1962, Britten’s War Requiem Opus 66 was premiered for the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral on 30 May 1962. That Cathedral, a 14th century structure, had been destroyed in 1940 in the bombing of WW2. Nine poems of Wilfred Owen, the famed English war poet, were interwoven by tenor and baritone voices into the orchestration.-Ron Price, with thanks to “War Requiem,” in Wikipedia, 22 July 2010.

    I knew nothing of you, Benjamin, back then
    in ’62 when I was 18 and just trying to get a
    high enough mark to become a uni student &
    the only youth in another Baha’i community.
    Your War Requiem could have been…..with
    those poems of Wilfred Owen…a very fitting
    note for the years and the battles ahead for me
    in my war with no guns, swords or uniforms..
    a third world war which, as Henry Miller1 once
    wrote would be more destructive than either of
    the first two, the ones my father and grandfather
    had to fight in the first half of the 20th century….

    1 The American write Henry Miller wrote in 1941 that:

    “When the destruction brought about by the Second World War is complete another kind of destruction will set in. And it will be far more drastic, far more terrible than the destruction which we are now witnessing. The whole planet will be in the throes of revolution. And the fires will rage until the very foundations of the present world crumble.”-See The Phoenix and the Ashes, Geoffrey Nash, George Ronald, Oxford, 1984, p.55.

    Ron Price
    22 July 2010
    married for 43 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 10 and a Baha'i for 51(in 2010).

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    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    A fascinating documentary about this masterpiece:
    [YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCTbF7NYAzg&feature=related[/YT]
    Und Morgen wird die Sonne wieder scheinen.....

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    Have anyone heard Kurt Masur's recording of War Reqiuem? Is it good? It has reasonable price, so maybe I will try it.

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    Junior Member RonPrice's Avatar
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    Thanks, Art Rock, for what was, indeed, "a fascinating documentary about this masterpiece." As far as Kurt Masur's recording is concerned: I can't provide any relevant information.-Ron Price, Australia
    married for 43 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 10 and a Baha'i for 51(in 2010).

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    Junior Member RonPrice's Avatar
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    After some further reflection and reading I feel I should add the following post by James Leonard at the allmusic internet site. This post below will provide some context for the reference to Kurt Masur in the above comment at this thread.-Ron Price, Australia
    ---------------------------
    Kurt Masur had many competitors but only two real challengers in his 2005 recording of Britten's War Requiem: Britten's 1963 recording and his own 1998 recording. Britten, of course, was also the work's composer, and his powerful, soulful, and overwhelmingly moving recording remains the definitive realization of his intentions. Masur, while not the work's composer, is a much more accomplished conductor, and his 1998 recording with the New York Philharmonic, plus three American-born soloists is arguably as powerful, as soulful, and in its way nearly as moving as Britten's. So how does his 2005 recording with the London Philharmonic plus three British-born soloists compare with his 1998 New York recording? Masur's performance from 2005 sounds less powerful -- his tempos are broader, and his textures are heavier -- and less soulful -- the soloists, while no less skillful and dedicated, are less immediately engaging -- but perhaps more moving. Masur, older and less robust than he once was, sounds here more focused on expressing the War Requiem's pacifist message. One may regret that the London Philharmonic Orchestra's playing is less polished and the London Philharmonic Chorus' singing is less refined than its New York competitors, and that Masur's own conducting is less vigorous than it once was, one can only admire its intensity and sincerity. LPO Live's sound is rough and ready, but vivid.
    married for 43 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 10 and a Baha'i for 51(in 2010).

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Smile War Requiem Essay

    Although there has been little activity in this thread I found in another forum a link to a very interesting article about the War Requiem. I hope the people here find it interesting:


    http://www.arthurcolman.com/m_britten.html
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    Junior Member RonPrice's Avatar
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    Belated apologies, arpeggio, for taking nearly two years to respond. If anyone is still out there at this thread, I shall return as I go through my 70s in the next decade.-Ron

    PS I now have a music sub-section at my website: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/Music.html
    married for 43 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 10 and a Baha'i for 51(in 2010).

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