MHMUS 464 — The Requiem
John J.H. Muller
Prerequisite: MHMUS 311 . The subject of death has often drawn from composers their most eloquent music. This course will examine Requiem settings throughout music history. As a starting point, we will study the Gregorian plainchant Requiem and its relationship to the liturgy of the Catholic Mass. This will lead to chant-based polyphonic settings of the Renaissance, including those of Ockeghem and Victoria. Fact and fiction surrounding Mozart’s unfinished Requiem will be addressed. The awesome portrayal of the Day of Judgment found in the Requiems of Berlioz and Verdi will be contrasted with the more intimate approach of Fauré. Settings by Duruflé and Ligeti offer examples of the diversity of 20th-century style. Non-liturgical works such as Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem and Britten’s War Requiem will also be examined. Throughout the course, issues of structural coherence and tone-painting will be considered, as will the attitudes toward death and religion reflected in a composer’s works.