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Your Suggestions: A Requiem by Any Other Name

Thursday, August 11, 2011

For more than 500 years, Western classical music has used the requiem mass to bury the departed and console the living. Nearly 2,000 requiems have been written, to date — and that isn't even counting all the secular works meant to address the realities of death and mortality. 

What piece of music do you think best commemorates a tragedy and provides some solace to the living — and why?

We'll include your selections in the Q2 Requiem Project stream during the upcoming anniversary weekend.












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Comments [44]

Don from Tennessee

To Connie from Mamaroneck, NY, it's Tom Paxton and it's called "The Bravest". Touching.

Sep. 12 2011 07:47 AM
Alan Ravage from New York City

One of the most consoling works is the Cantata of Bach called the Actus Tragicus.

And not to be forgotten, the Kol Nidre.

Sep. 12 2011 01:58 AM
Erik J from Brooklyn, NY

I think Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 4 is not only a severely underplayed work, but also very fitting for this weekend in its message.

Taken from Wikipedia: "Danish Composer Carl Nielsen was thinking about a new symphony in 1914, and in May he wrote to his wife (who was in Celle):

I have an idea for a new composition, which has no programme but will express what we understand by the spirit of life or manifestations of life, that is: everything that moves, that wants to live ... just life and motion, though varied—very varied—yet connected, and as if constantly on the move, in one big movement or stream. I must have a word or a short title to express this; that will be enough. I cannot quite explain what I want, but what I want is good.

Nielsen concenrated on this until 1916, and named his 4th Symphony "The Inextinguishable". Inextinguishable does not apply to the symphony itself, but rather to "that which is inextinguishable". In his notes for the symphony, Nielsen refers to "the elemental will to live" ("inextinguishable" is not an exact translation of uudslukkelige, which itself suggests the life-force)."

Sep. 09 2011 12:02 PM
Robert Wendel from NYC

My own work, "Commemoration" was written in 2000 after the sudden passing of 2 long-time friends. A year later, 9-11 happened and Erich Kunzel performed it multiple times on tour afterwards. It was also performed at the Kennedy Space center at a memorial concert for the Challenger Astronauts, and 3 times on the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS. It symbolizes both sorrow from loss as well as ever-building hope for the future. I sent a CD to WQXR many weeks ago, but it can also be found on iTunes if necessary, or contact me privately and I will send a copy.

Sep. 09 2011 10:24 AM
Seana Wyman from New York

Bruce Springsteen's "My City of Ruins"

Sep. 09 2011 12:04 AM
Elizabeth Mazes

I was a counselor at a high school on the hill above the ferry landing on Staten Island. A plane passed over so close it rattled the windows and minutes later it carried its passengers to their deaths. Our students saw the buildings burning and we kept them calm although some knew their parents/relatives worked at the WTC. They smoke changed from black rolling smoke blowing towards Brooklyn and the students cheered, thinking that the fires were out. When the sky cleared a bit we saw white "smoke" rising in a straight column and then came the realization that the Towers were gone.
Meanwhile, the ferry was unloading hundreds of escapees and they were being sent to us. Covered in ash, disoriented, frightened and numb, they came to my school and we cared for them along with our own students.
The Island was on lock-down and we sheltered all these people overnight, staying up and listening to them trying to wrap their minds around what they had seen, smelled and breathed in.
All day and into the night, I could not get Samuel Barber's "Anthony O'Daly" out of my head. It is raw and driving, and dissonant and angry and full of pure pain.
I was so empty and exhausted by dawn and then the last lines just echoed over and over - "there is nothing but grief". It still catches in my throat to hear that piece now.

Sep. 08 2011 10:26 PM
Lee Streisfeld-Leitner from Croton on Hudson, NY

I recommend Frank Ticheli's "There Will be Rest," a gorgeous, a cappella setting of a poem by Sara Teasdale: "There will be rest, and sure stars shining
Over the roof-tops crowned with snow,
A reign of rest, serene forgetting,
The music of stillness holy and low.

I will make this world of my devising
Out of a dream in my lonely mind.
I shall find the crystal of peace, – above me
Stars I shall find."

Sep. 08 2011 02:31 PM
James Gedge from Eastchester, NY

I was driving home one day about 14 years ago and had to pull over to the side of the road to listen to "Requiem for the Astronauts". Unbelievably powerful!!
Please play!!!

Sep. 08 2011 01:13 PM
Joseph L. Howlett from Saranac Lake, NY

For me, the Brahms GERMAN REQUIEM gives the greatest consolation of any of the classical requiems. It begins with "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." The text takes a humanistic approach. The ending is "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours and their works do follow them.". The music is heavenly, at times quiet and peaceful, at other times dramatic and robust. The Brahms REQUIEM is so suitable at 9/11/2011.

Sep. 08 2011 05:31 AM
Adam Smith! from The Matrix

As a movie score fan, I would like to recommend these pieces from films pertaining to 9/11.

The End - John Powell, United 93

Prayers - John Powell, United 93

World Trade Center Cello Theme - Craig Armstrong,World trade Center

World Trade Center Choral Piece - Craig Armstrong,World Trade Center

I Know You Can Hear Me -Marcelo Zarvos, Remember Me

Opening - Marcelo Zarvos, Remember Me

September 11, 2001 - Theme From The Last Castle - Jerry Goldsmith, The Last Castle

And this is not from a film about 9/11, but the war that stemed from it. It's a beautiful song by Jamie Cullem from the film Grace is Gone aptly titled "Grace is Gone."

Sep. 08 2011 02:30 AM
Marc Greene from Coram, NY

As a choral director, there are several pieces that I turn to when my singers and their community are facing a loss. These include:

Omnia Sol (Let Your Heart Be Staid) by Z. Randall Stroope

The Lord Bless You And Keep You by Peter Lutkin

In Remembrance by Jeffrey Ames

Sep. 07 2011 09:21 PM
Cathy Fischer from Mohegan Lake, NY

My suggestions in this vein are Stephen Sametz' "in time of" with lyrics from ee cummings' "in time of daffodils who know, " "Sing Me to Heaven" by Daniel E Gawthrop w lyrics by Jane Griner, or Gorecki's "Totus Tuus." All hauntingly beautiful.

Sep. 07 2011 06:34 PM
Patricia Schantz

Aarvo Part's Mirror in a Mirror is a piano/violin piece that I can listen to over and over. It makes me stop what I'm doing, pay complete attention and feel deeply. It's a perfect choice to accompany the 10th 9/11 anniversary and contemplate, remember, cry, reach out to one another and look at our own reflection and the reflection of those we love-and miss. Six powerfully haunting minutes of music.
Thank you for asking the public to participate.

Sep. 06 2011 04:27 PM
Bob Falesch from Ogdensburg NY

A piece called "Clang-2": (disclosure - it's my own work).

Short of that, my alternate recommendation is a piece by the great British composer Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies: "Into the Labyrinth", which, like my own work, ends on a note of hopefulness and potential renewal.

Sep. 05 2011 11:42 PM
Phyllis Wrynn from Brooklyn, NY

My husband was very moved by a story he had heard about one of the only family members who did not take the settlement on behalf of the victims. Her name is Ellen Mariani and her husband Neil was killed on United Flight 175.

Ellen never accepted that the full story was being told. Part of taking the money was a promise to essentially be silent from that point forward. My husband wrote The September 11th Song and dedicated it to Ellen, although there was no personal connection.

One day, the phone rang and a woman's voice asked for Papa Dish and when I asked who was calling, she answered "Ellen Mariani". My heart raced. Someone had found the song online and told her about it. She had been amazed to learn that anyone was so aware of the details of her situation.

The music and lyrics are available as a free download at Papa Dish Music.

Sep. 05 2011 10:05 PM
John Maclay from Manhattan

Paul Hindemith's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", subtitled A Requiem for Those We Love. Composed for Hindemith's adopted country, set to words by one of New York City's - and America's - greatest poets, Walt Whitman. The story of New York is the story of America - let us never forget!

Sep. 05 2011 02:46 PM
Kim W. from Brooklyn, NY

Bruce Springsteen, "My City Of Ruins." It broke my heart when I first heard it, a week or so after the attacks, because it captured that loss and sorrow so many of us felt ("without your sweet kiss, my soul is lost, my friend/tell me how do I begin again"), but was also a call to go on (I defy anyone to listen to Bruce pleading "Come on RISE UP" and not wanting to join him in rebuilding the city).

Sep. 05 2011 11:09 AM
Connie from Mamaroneck, NY

There was a song about the first responders: They were going up while we were coming down. VERY touching. I think it was Tom Waits or Tom Hall. I haven't found it since.

Sep. 05 2011 10:11 AM
mitchw from eastchester ny

"Raisins and Almonds." Because a concert at Ground Zero after 9/11 is the first time I heard it, so that is its anchor for me.

Sep. 03 2011 08:45 PM
Richard Marino from East Brunswick, NJ

1) I find "Va Pensiero (The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves") from "Nabucco" by Giuseppe Verdi to be an overwhelmingly consoling piece. It was played at Verdi's funeral by Toscanini, and it was subsequently played at Toscanini funeral. The sense of longing far the departed helps bring a catharsis of feelings, which may help bring some measure of comfort to those in mourning.
2) Likewise, I find the Intermezzo from "Cavalleria Rusticana" by Mascagni connects with deep-seated emotions.
3) On the 4th of July weekend, Naomi Lewin played Stephen Foster songs. One Civil War song was "Was my Brother in the Battle?" Having lost a dear brother last year, this song still brings tears of longing,remembrance, and cathartic relief whenever I hear it.
4) Gabriel Faure's "Pavane" is such a nourishing and soothing piece, like a soft stroke on the face by a loved one consoling us - please don't miss playing this.
5) Last, but not least, the "Humming Chorus" from Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" brings one to a quiet place of meditation,peace, and remembrance.

Aug. 31 2011 01:23 PM
Emily John from NYC

Adding to my previous comment - I forgot that Pärt is born on September 11th (he turned 75 this past year.) My sister, also celebrates her birthday on 9/11 and I know it has a very unique/bittersweet feeling for her - how to celebrate when others are grieving. I imagine that people with Dec 7th birthdays or other notable dates have a similar story, but I think that Pärt's music is very powerful for me and the fact that it is his birthday brings forward the reminder that amidst the tragedy, and the remembrance and grief, every year babies are born, people get married, buy groceries and live. Honoring this date is so important and I commend WNYC for giving opportunities for people's voices to be part of the process.

Aug. 29 2011 12:17 PM
A from NJ

Vivaldi's The Four Seasons -- we've cycled through 10 years since the attacks. These pieces remind me of people I loved who are gone, the time we shared, and the time that has passed since their deaths -- in a good way...

Aug. 25 2011 08:39 PM
Peter Winn

I would suggest playing Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.
It is profound & moving music that commemorates another attack that struck suddenly from a plane vaporising its mostly civilian victims
--and should lead us to reflect on a history in which we were not always victims....

Aug. 25 2011 02:20 PM

@Virginia, you might find this interesting since you mention the Gorecki:

Aug. 24 2011 02:24 PM
Emily John from NYC

Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten - Arvo Pärt

profoundly healing music, for many (much of Pärt's music applies)

playing an extended cut of children laughing - the sound of hope and the sound of future.

Aug. 24 2011 11:26 AM
Virginia from Chatham, NJ

Not a requiem, per se, but a profoundly moving piece is "A Symphony of Sorrowful Songs". I forget whether it's by Gorecki or Aarvo Part, but in any case, I think it plumbs the depths of grief, and would be very appropriate for this occasion.

Aug. 24 2011 11:01 AM

Please, anything from St. Matthew's Passion by Bach. It just about sums it up. In memory of my sister Mary Koretzy who was a victim of the '93 WTC Bombing. Please add the '93 WTC bombing victims to your prayers for the 9-11 victims, they were the first to be stuck on Feb 26, 1993, sadly they were not the last.

Jeannette Remak

Aug. 24 2011 09:23 AM
Fran McManus from New York City

Michael Card's song "The Silence of God" from his album The Hidden Face of God is a piece that recalls the feeling of loss and loneliness experienced by believers and by Jesus in Gethsemane; it offers hope and consolation, but notes that there are no glib answers even for believers. Also "The Call" r which incorporates the Muslim call to prayer in Karl Jenkins' For the Armed Man: A Mass for Peace is very appropriate.

Aug. 23 2011 08:39 PM
Lenore Buonocore from Nw City NY

A few years ago a very close friend of mine passed away and I was asked to write her obituary. The opening passage was: After a protracted and courageous battle with cancer, Bobbi Lewis succumbed to the disease April 19, 2002, at the age of 58; yet she should not be remembered by the illness which took her life but rather by the life she lived and the lives she effected.

I think the same should be done for the people who died on Sept. 11th.

Not out of disrespect but rather out of celebration of their lives I put forth the idea of playing Ode to Joy.

Aug. 21 2011 09:58 AM
Brother Brian Carty from New York City

Karl Jenkins
The Armed Man Benedictus

Rhydian Roberts singing Benedictus at Karl Jenkins' birthday concert at WMC, Cardiff on 14th November 2009

The most moving performance I have heard. Meditative and moving.

Aug. 20 2011 09:52 PM
Charlotte A. from New Jersey

I would appreciate hearing Faure's "Requiem." This piece has meant a great deal to me personally upon the death of any of my loved ones. I think it would be especially appropriate in remembering the deaths of thousands of our fellow citizens on 9/11.

Aug. 20 2011 03:53 PM
Renata from Lyndhurst, JN

Gorecki's Symphony was already mentioned. It brings to mind other pieces with Mother mourning child's death - Stabat Mater (Pergolesi is an obvious choice but I would also recommend the one by Karol Szymanowski).
Gerard Grisey's "Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil" and Olivier Messiaen's "Quartet for the end of time" are my other suggestions.
On such an occasion I'd also love to hear the symphonic poem "Eternal Songs" by Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, a very unusual philosophic example of the genre (with there movements: Song of Everlasting Yearning, Song of Love and Death, Song of Eternal Being). Great music. So little known in the US.

Aug. 20 2011 10:12 AM
karl from Bayside Queens NY

Quiet City , for obvious reasons

Aug. 19 2011 09:40 AM

Thanks for your suggestions! We are investigating every single one, and will be appreciatively expanding our programming for that weekend.

Aug. 18 2011 04:49 PM
Marge Gatto from NJ

Barber's Adagio for Strings . . . beautiful and powerful music. Mournful, hopeful, inspirational. And also The Lark Ascending; can't remember the composer right now, but it evokes images of angels and of spirits rising. Of hope and peace.

Aug. 18 2011 01:12 PM
Geoff A. from Ann Arbor from Ann Arbor

The film "Native New Yorker" is somewhat a Requiem to the people both past and present who have lived in Manhattan and to 9/11. It's score is a haunting and beautiful elegy with a boys choir, Native American Chanting and Middle Eastern vocalizing.

Aug. 17 2011 08:18 PM
Ruth Helen Ryer from New York

My first choice is "Fanfare for the Common Man, by Copland. It's a tribute to all the ordinary people who died, suffered loss, and volunteered to help on that dreadful day.

Another is Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" with an inspiring text.

Third choice is Bach's "Where Sheep May Safely Graze". It's comforting. Then there's Bach's "Air on a G String", which is so serene.

Finally there;s Schubert's "Impromptu in A-Flat Minor, Op. 142, #2. Thisis probably the most tender music I've every listened to.

A finaly choice (you can see I emphasize
American composers) is Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More."

Aug. 17 2011 02:20 PM
Jillian Flynn from New York, NY

Growing up in Kentucky my family spent many hours listening to bluegrass, country, folk and gospel music at the local music hall. One of my favorites was "Can The Circle Be Unbroken" originally sung by the Carter Family. My younger sister was very influence by that music and has recorded a cover of this song with her band that I would like to recommend for the 9/11 Requiem Project for its soulful rendition of death, loss and mourning.

Aug. 17 2011 01:40 PM
Joan Lazell from Englewood Cliffs NJ

I previously sent a request to you. I now think it was sent under the wrong category. A simple eloquent piece from A Robert Shaw Christmas - Angles on Alexander Kapylov 1854-1911, English Text by Alice Mattullath - Heavenly Light. Although incorporated into a Christmas album, its spritual expression could be of any belief or religion.

Aug. 17 2011 08:44 AM
Peter Strauss from New York, NY

This is just the right thing to do. You might consider mourning music from other traditions as well as (Christian) requiems. There is a beautiful recording of Salamone Rossi's Yitgadal Veyitkadash, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning, on Salamone Rossi, Profetti Della Quinta and Ensemble Muscadin, Panclassics CD PC10214. I would imagine Muslim and other religious traditions also have such settings.

Aug. 16 2011 04:56 PM
Michael Shaffer from St Simons Island, GA

In my generation I would say it's Britten's "War Requiem" (1961)

Aug. 15 2011 12:28 PM
Patrick Moore from Pittsburgh

Another approach entirely--the Ralph Towner/Jan Garbarek piece, "Drifting Petals" on the album Solstice is just what you are looking for. A mid70s melancholy, introspective and beautiful ECM sound piece.

Aug. 15 2011 09:45 AM
fotographist from Baltimore, MD

Gorecki's "Symphony #3" immediately comes to mind. I don't believe there has ever been a a comparable musical interpretation of loss during wartime. Also, John Corigliano's "Fantasia On an Ostinato for Solo Piano" performed by Andrew Russo...a beautiful postmodern take on one of the most (in my opinion) elegiac pieces of music in the canon of western music, the second movement of Beethoven's "Symphony #7". Either the original or the derivation would be appropriate, here...perhaps the later even more, however, for its connection of the contemporary psyche to the past.

Aug. 14 2011 06:53 AM
Robert A.M. Ross from Philadelphia, PA

Several comments here:

1) I think the Adams work gets it right for a musical response to such a catastrophic event...there are so many ways one can mis-step in writing a 9/11 memorial.

2) My own favorites in the "Requiem" category are pieces that focus on consolation, whether in the text, the musical style, or (ideally), both. These include those by Brahms, Duruflé, Fauré, and Rutter.

3) The wake of 9/11 happened to coincide with a commission I received from Chamber Choir Cantinovum (Finland) for a work for their "Easter" (actually held on Good Friday) program for 2002. The result was my *Psalm 51* for choir & strings (duration c. 17 min.) far as I know, it may be the 1st complete setting of this psalm in Hebrew--ever.

The idea and driving force behind my work on this piece comes from a Jewish perspective that dominates the recently concluded Fast of Tisha b'Ab: "Eicha"--"How could this have happened?/How might I, through action or inaction, have contributed to this calamity?"

I can send a CD or send an .aiff of the premiere performance if there might be interest in this for this 9/11/01 10th anniversary program.

Aug. 12 2011 06:45 PM

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