Theatre & Opera Magazine

6 Classical Music Pieces to Commemorate 9/11 - #3 An American Requiem by Richard Danielpour

Posted on the 09 September 2011 by Pinkall @pinkall
Today, I have a piece that is not as well known compared to any of the other six pieces that I have selected for this week.  So, in that case, you should be really excited, because it is a great piece of music that deserves its due.  If you are in a hurry...(but why would you be?) should skip to part 4!
An American Requiem
by Richard Danielpour
How it was influenced by September 11:  The composer writes in his notes that, "When I began writing An American Requiem, I, of course, had no idea what would eventually occur on September 11, 2001. My initial interest in writing the piece that became An American Requiem began in 1998 when I started to establish dialogues with American veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the war in Vietnam. An American Requiem began as both a tribute to the American soldier and an examination of the insanity we call war.
On the early morning of September 11, 2001, I had just opened a package containing the orchestral engraving of An American Requiem to edit for the upcoming premiere. I knew, because of the length of the work (60’) and the large forces required for performing it, that editing would be a long process. The first thing I noticed however was that there was no dedication on the first page. I had evidently not been able to come up with the appropriate words or way to inscribe such a dedication. Around 9:10 am, I called my publisher G. Schirmer to speak with my editor about the issue of the missing inscription, and eventually found myself on the phone with Deborah Horne, who works in the Promotion Department at Schirmer. She explained to me, that just two minutes earlier, she had witnessed from her office window in downtown Manhattan the second of two jets that had exploded into the World Trade Center. In the ensuing days as I edited and finalized the score of my work, I had in the most disquieting and disturbing way found my dedication.
What to listen for: The text.  Once again, the composer says, "...the work is sung by a large chorus as well as three solo voices; and, it two languages. The Latin texts from the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass are usually given to the chorus (while sometimes sung by the soloists), while the American poems that were set are always given to the soloists either individually or in ensemble. The Latin Requiem texts...represent a spiritual dimension (involving man’s relationship to a Supreme Being in the face of death). I also found the invoked images of the Apocalypse and the spiritual hell and fear of annihilation to be an appropriate reflection of the hell on earth that is experienced in war. In some sense An American Requiem is not only about our relationship to war, but also our relationship to death as a part of life.
Part 1. Introit: Requiem - Vigil 1 - Kyrie
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam;
ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
A hymn becomes you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall a vow be repaid in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer;
to you shall all flesh come.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

(Whitman's "Sea-winds blown...")
Sea-winds blown from east and west,
Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till
there on the prairies meeting,
These and with these and the breath of my chant,
I'll perfume the grave of him I love.
(Emerson's "Was there no star")
Was there no star that could be sent,
No watcher in the firmament,
No angel from the countless host
That loiters round the crystal coast,
Could stoop to heal that only child,
Nature's sweet marvel undefiled,
And keep the blossom of the earth,
The eager fate which carried thee
Took the largest part of me:
Kyrie eleison;
Christe eleison;
Kyrie eleison
Lord have mercy;
Christ have mercy;
Lord have mercy.


Part 2. Dies Irae
Dies iræ! dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla:
Teste David cum Sibylla!
The day of wrath, that day
Will dissolve the world in ashes
As foretold by David and the sibyl!

Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando iudex est venturus,
Cuncta stricte discussurus!
How much tremor there will be,
when the judge will come,
investigating everything strictly!

(Whitman's A Dirge for Two Veterans)
I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key’d bugles;
All the channels of the city streets they’re flooding,
As with voices and with tears.
I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring;
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.
The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish’d Sabbath,
On the pavement here—and there beyond, it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.
Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive;
And the day-light o’er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.
The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music;
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.
Part 3. Vigil II - Lacrimosa - Pie Jesu
(Whitman's "Vigil strange I kept..")
VIGIL strange I kept on the field one night:
When you, my son and my comrade, dropt at my side that day,
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet, there in the fragrant silent night; 10
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh—Long, long I gazed;
Then on the earth partially reclining, sat by your side, leaning my chin in my hands;
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you, dearest comrade—Not a tear, not a word;
Vigil of silence, love and death—vigil for you my son and my soldier.
Lacrimosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus:
Tearful will be that day,
on which from the ashes arises
the guilty man who is to be judged.
Spare him therefore, God.

Pie Jesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem. Amen.
Merciful Lord Jesus,
grant them rest. Amen.

Part 4-5 Sanctus - Benedictus

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth;
pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis. (reprise)
Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Hosts;
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest. (reprise)

Part 6-7 Lay This Body Down - Agnus Dei
Lay this Body Down (anonymous spiritual)
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem,
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem,
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem sempiternam.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, grant them rest,
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, grant them rest,
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, grant them eternal rest.

Part 8. Libera Me - Not in Our Time
Libera me, Domine, de morte æterna, in die illa tremenda:Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.Dum veneris iudicare sæculum per ignem.Tremens factus sum ego, et timeo, dum discussio venerit, atque ventura ira.Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.
Dies illa, dies iræ, calamitatis et miseriæ, dies magna et amara valde.Dum veneris iudicare sæculum per ignem.Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis. 
Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fearful day,when the heavens and the earth shall be moved,when thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.I am made to tremble, and I fear, till the judgment be upon us, and the coming wrath,when the heavens and the earth shall be moved.
That day, day of wrath, calamity, and misery, day of great and exceeding bitterness,when thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them. 
Hilda Doolittle's "No in our time"Not in our time, O Lord, the plowshare for the sword, not in our time, the knife, sated with life-blood and life, to trim the barren vine.
Part 9. Lux Aeterna
Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine,cum sanctis tuis in æternum,quia pius es.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine;et lux perpetua luceat eis ;cum Sanctis tuis in æternum,quia pius es. 
May everlasting light shine upon them, O Lord,with your Saints forever,for you are kind.
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,and may everlasting light shine upon them.with your Saints forever,for you are merciful. 

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog