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AY101 Britten's War Requiem: A Musical Cry for Peace

  • 10 May 2019
  • 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • WICE, 10 rue Tiphaine, 75015 Paris
  • 13


In his War Requiem, commissioned to commemorate the Second World War and first performed in 1962 at the consecration of the rebuilt famously bombed Coventry Cathedral, the British composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) begged for peace and spoke defiantly against war. This work is not a typical requiem as English poems from the First World War by Wilfred Owen are scattered throughout the traditional Latin liturgical text. In composing this epic work, Britten was pressing for change and did not care what political leaders would think, even irritating the Soviet Union before the debut. He intensified his pacifist ideals and orchestrated the requiem with massive musical forces -- especially in the percussion section -- causing the powerful emotions aroused among the musicians to shake up the audience.

Through this class, we will understand why this requiem is one of the few pieces composed after 1945, to be in such demand for performances today. Together we will take a journey into the mesmerizing world of Britten as well as into the anti-war verses by Owen which question morality. Their timeless messages, still so important in the twentieth-first century will surely resonate with us all!

Live performances of this piece will take place on May 15 and 16 in Paris.

About the Instructor: As an American harpist, Lauren Woidela has travelled to three continents performing solo, chamber and orchestral concerts. As an instructor, she has given lectures for the musicology department of the Université de Paris-Sorbonne, focusing on 19th & 20th century music. She produced and hosted her own radio program for the former KXTR, Kansas City’s classical music radio station, captivating her audiences by bringing a fresh new view to classical music.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

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