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John Milford Rutter
1945 -
Great Britain, England
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J.M. Rutter
John Rutter (24/09/1945), an English composer. He was born in London and was educated at Clare College, Cambridge. He began composing seriously in 1969, and has composed a large number of works, mostly choral, but including two children's operas, orchestral works, works based on the heritage of the Beatles, and many works for chorus accompanied by brass or strings. He became Director of Music at Clare in 1975, and served until 1979; his musical heritage was enriched by contact with other parts of Cambridge University, especially Kings College, whose campus with its magnificent chapel adjoins Clare along the river Cam. Sir David Willcocks, director of the Kings College Choir, was one of Rutter's teachers, and with Willcocks, Rutter has edited or published a number of choral collections. Rutter founded the Cambridge Singers in 1981, eventually helped them establish their own record label, and led them to international prominence; he has since resigned that directorship to concentrate on composition and conducting.
Author:J.R. Fancher
Composed in:1985
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass + psalm 23, psalm 130 + Book of Common Prayer
In memory of:the composer's father L.F. Rutter
Label(s):Collegium Records Colcd 099 | Reference Recordings RR-57CD
EMI 7243 5 56605 2 7
Naxos 8.557130
Collegium CSCD 504
Of his Requiem, composed in 1985, Rutter says that it was composed because of a personal bereavement-- which he does not further elaborate-- and he compares it to the requiems of Faure and Durufle (both previous works undertaken by the Naperville Chorus) and also to Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, which it resembles chiefly in its use of interwoven English texts with movements from the traditional Latin requiem mass; the texts used here include Psalms 23 and 130, and fragments of the Anglican burial service from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. While he characterizes it as a concert piece rather than a liturgical one, he says he hopes "it feels at home in church". He intentionally employed sections of Gregorian chant, especially in the "Agnus Dei", and briefly in the "Lux aeterna". He compares the overall structure to an arch, with the general prayers of the first movement, "Requiem aeternam", and the last, "Lux aeterna", both traditional texts, as the supports; the second and sixth movements ("Out of the Deep" and "The Lord is My Shepherd", respectively) at the beginning of the arch; the personal prayers to Christ of the third and fifth movements ("Pie Jesu" and "Agnus Dei") ascending into the arch; and the fourth movement, "Sanctus", as the keystone, both "celebratory and affirmative", in the composer's words.
Author:J. R. Fancher
Choral music has formed an important and cherished part of my life, both as a composer and conductor, and it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome this recording that gathers several of my smaller sacred choral pieces together with my Requiem, a work of special personal significance to me. I had the good fortune to hear the Turtle Creek Chorale and the Dallas Women's Chorus in 1993, and was instantly impressed and emotionally moved. I could not be more delighted that these two wonderful choirs have joined forces for a recording I know I will treasure.
The Requiem was written in 1985 and dedicated to the memory of my father, who had died the previous year. In writing it, I was influenced and inspired by the example of Fauré. I doubt whether any specific musical resemblances can be traced, but I am sure that Fauré's Requiem crystallized my thoughts about the kind of requiem I wanted to write: intimate rather than grandiose, contemplative and lyric rather than dramatic, and ultimately moving towards light rather than darkness -- the "Lux aeterna" of the losing text.
The composition of the Requiem was interrupted by other commitments and by illness. The first complete performance took place in October 1985 (in Dallas, as it happened), and no one, least of all the astonished composer, could have predicted the flood of performances which followed and which has continued ever since. For me it stands as a clear sign of humanity's quest for solace and light amidst the darkness and troubles of our age. Art, Andre Gide said, must bear a message of hope -- a message which is embedded in the age-old texts of the requiem mass, and also in the burial service, some of which I have interpolated into the structure of the work, using the incomparably resonant and glorious version from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
The shorter pieces to be heard on this recording owe their origins to practical circumstances: commissions from churches and choral organizations, requests from friends, or, in the case of A Gaelic Blessing, a parting gift for a much-loved choir director. Choosing their texts was always a particular care and delight: who could fail to be stirred by the familiar words of Psalm 121 or the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi? And, at the same time, how especially rewarding it is to find a lovely and virtually unknown text such as that of A Gaelic Blessing and set it to music for the first time. I remember being especially touched by the text of The Lord if my light and my salvation; this was given to me by an old friend who knew his days to be numbered as a result of AIDS. He told me of the strength and inspiration he drew from the words of this psalm, and expressed a wish that I might set it to music, for performance at his memorial service. For him, and for me, there was nothing morbid or depressing about this request; I was happy to write the piece and felt more closely drawn towards the reality of AIDS as a result.
Author:John Rutter