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Gabriel Urbain Fauré
1845 - 1924
France
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G.U. Fauré
Gabriel Fauré (12/05/1845 - 04/11/1924), a French composer of stage works, church music, orchestral works, chamber music, etc. He was born in Pamiers.
Source: Grove’s dictionary of music and musicians
Requiem
Period:Romanticism
Composed in:1888
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:36'38''
In memory of:his parents
Label(s):Naxos 8.550765
EMI Classics 0946 3 79994 2 4
Decca 421 440-2 & Erato 50999 070921 2
Philips 446 084-2
Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, for all its enduring popularity with performers and audiences alike, is an unusual creation with a long and complex history. Since the earliest surviving setting by Ockeghem in the fifteenth century, the Catholic requiem mass has provided a stimulating challenge for composers, and each new version has reflected the personal beliefs and creative powers of the individual composer concerned. The nineteenth century vogue was towards the grandiose and operatic, and the horror of the Last Judgement was exploited to the full in Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts (1837) and Verdi's Messa di Requiem (1874). From a criticism published in Le Figaro in 1904, it is clear that Fauré detested Berlioz's apocalyptic vision, condemning the 'thundering fanfares' of the "Tuba mirum" in particular.
Fauré's work clearly does not belong in this category, but nor does it conform to the more conservative tradition of those settings by Saint-Saëns, Bruckner and Cherubini: it stands alone in its unusual choice of texts, and in its restrained, melodious simplicity.
Fauré began work on his Requiem in 1887 'for the pleasure of it', and whilst there was no specific commission for the work, the death of his father two years earlier may well have given the forty-two year-old composer some inspiration; the subsequent death of his mother during the early stages of its composition spurred him on to complete the work during the first few days of 1888. The first performance of this work was given on 16th January of that year at a funeral in the Parisian church of La Madeleine, where Fauré was a choirmaster at the time. At this stage there were only five movements ("Introit et Kyrie", "Sanctus", "Pie Jesu", "Agnus Dei" & "In Paradisum"), and Fauré's particular choice of texts laid emphasis on the idea of rest and peace, eschewing all references to the Day of Judgement. The instrumentation was equally understated, with a string section of violas, cellos and basses (no violins), with harp, timpani and organ. Fauré intended the work to be intimate telling the Belgian violinist Ysöye 'it is as gentle as I am myself'; he also 'sought to escape from what is thought right and proper. After all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ, I know it all by heart! I wanted to write something different.'
Whilst this version of the Requiem continued to be used at La Madeleine until the end of the nineteenth century, Fauré prepared an expanded version in 1893, adding two new movements - the "Offertoire" (1889) and an earlier "Libera Me" (1877); in these he featured a soloist, a 'quiet bass baritone, the cantor type.' The orchestration was also augmented to include horns and trombones, which dominate the "Dies irae" passage of the "Libera me". The third, and most frequently performed version of Fauré's masterpiece, was the result of Fauré's publisher, Hamelle, insisting on a 'version symphonique' with full orchestra and large choir. Hamelle obviously had a good eye for business, recognising that the Requiem could easily become a popular concert work, and this is the version that has prevailed in performances ever since - a far cry from Fauré's original concept of a 'petit Requiem.'
In 1983 John Rutter, the eminent British choral composer, prepared a new edition of the 1893 version of the Requiem, retaining the "Libera me" and "Offertoire", and remaining faithful to the original scoring of 1888, but keeping the 1893 addition of horns and the solo violin in the "Sanctus". Rutter also corrected many of the mistakes that had crept into the Hamelle editions: these were the fault of Fauré's pupil Roger-Ducasse, who prepared the vocal score and most probably undertook the 1900 reorchestration, adding the unnecessary extra woodwind and brass. With these stripped away, we hear at last the unique and sombre instrumental sonorities that Fauré originally intended.
Author:Jeremy Cull
Fauré's Requiem bears imprints of the composer's early training in plainchant and 16th-century polyphony. Originally the work had five movements only – "Introit and Kyrie", "Sanctus", "Pie Jesu" (for treble soloist), "Agnus Dei" and "In Paradisum" – with an orchestra of lower strings, harp, timpani and organ, and a solo violin in the "Sanctus". In this form it was performed at a funeral in Ste Marie-Madeleine, Paris, in January 1888. Thereafter, in two stages up to 1900, it was augmented by the addition of an offertory and responsory, both with a baritone soloist, and an enlargement of the orchestra to include woodwind, brass and a full complement of strings.
Author:Steven Chang-Lin Yu