Sat. 11/11/23, 7:30 PM
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

War Requiem for soli, choirs and orchestra op. 66 (1962)

Joachim Krause, conductor
Susanne Bernhard, soprano
Thomas Mohr, tenor
Markus Eiche, baritone
Basler Bach-Chor
Der Gemischte Chor Zürich
Knabenkantorei Basel

An act of destruction and cultural barbarism gave rise to the creation of one of the pivotal works of 20th century music.

Benjamin Britten's War Requiem is a work of silent mourning, of commemoration of all those who perished in the war – and of reconciliation. The composition was first performed on May 30, 1962, on the occasion of the consecration of the newly built cathedral in Coventry, England. Its medieval predecessor had been destroyed by German bombs during the so-called Operation Moonlight Sonata.

The English composer used the commission he was entrusted with to transform his deeply rooted pacifistic and humanitarian beliefs into sound. In his powerful appeal against war, Britten juxtaposes the surviving text of the Latin Mass for the Dead with the harrowing poems of Wilfred Owen, a soldier who died in the final days of World War I at the age of 25.

Britten's monumental composition for orchestra, choirs, three solo voices, and organ is not only considered a milestone of postwar music, its impact remains staggering today through its unmediated expression – a World War oratorio as a cautionary statement of protest and resistance to the wars of the 20th century.

In light of the current war in Eastern Europe, this requiem mass demonstrates its topicality anew.

In cooperation with the Basler Bach-Chor and Der Gemischter Chor Zurich

Program subject to change

Tonhalle Zürich

Photo: Gaëtan Bally


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