• Geoffrey Burgon
  • Requiem (1976)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Full score and vocal score for sale

  • 2(2pic)2(ca)22(cbn)4331hppf(cel)ch org(grand org)2timp.5percstr
  • SATB
  • soprano, tenor, countertenor [=mezzo soprano, tenor]
  • 45 min

Programme Note

This work was commissioned by the 1976 Three Choirs Festival and first performed in Hereford Cathedral on 26 August 1976.

Although most of the liturgical Requiem text is used, the work is not a Requiem Mass but an exploration of several aspects of eternity – the idea of eternity as coming from nowhere and going to nowhere, requiem aeternam (eternal rest), St John of the Cross’s ‘ecstatic union with God’ and timelessness as expressed in much non-European music eg that of Bali. The central Dies Irae section is the ‘dark night’, the bridge between the ‘coming from nowhere and the going to nowhere’ and was conceived as a nightmare fantasy image of a man entering a great cathedral and realising he was attending his own requiem.

The work is in three main sections, Reguiem Aeternam, Dies Irae and Libera Me. The first part begins quietly with the choir, builds gently to a climax and leads into ‘requiem aeternam’ sung by choir and soprano soloist. Dies Irae begins with thunderous solos from two groups of timpani, leading to a hushed, dance-like setting of ‘dies irae, dies illa’. Almost all the material in this section is based on the Dies Irae plainsong and much of it is deliberately 19th century in character.

The solo tenor is heard for the first time a the beginning of part three and a notable feature of this section is the use of a 14th century Agnus Dei, sung by the choir, who are then joined by the counter-tenor and soprano singing part of the St John poem ‘Noche Oscura’. The work ends with ‘requiem aeternam’ which is set to the same music as the opening requiem, so bringing the work full circle.

Geoffrey Burgon
September 1977

Listen

Requiem - Part 1 - Requiem Aeternam: Entréme donde no supe
Requiem - Part 1 - Requiem Aeternam: Requiem aeternam
Requiem - Part 2 - Dies Irae: Dies irae, dies illa
Requiem - Part 2 - Dies Irae: Rex tremendae majestatis
Requiem - Part 2 - Dies Irae: Lacrimosa dies illa
Requiem - Part 3 - Libera Me: En mí yo no vivo ya
Requiem - Part 3 - Libera Me: Lloraré mi muerte ya
Requiem - Part 3 - Libera Me: Agnus Dei
Requiem - Part 3 - Libera Me: Lux aeterna luceat eis Domine
Requiem - Part 3 - Libera Me: Requiem aeternam

Discography

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