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Jón Leifs
1899 - 1968
J. Leifs
Jón Leifs (01/05/1899 - 30/07/1968), an Icelandic composer and conductor, worked during many years in Germany, born in Sólheimar, Iceland. Páll P. Pálsson wrote a requiem in memory of Jon Leifs.
Composed in:1947
Musical form:free
Text/libretto:a collage of Icelandic folk and contemporary poetry
In memory of:his daughter Líf
Label(s):Icelandic Choral Music
On 12th July 1947, Jón Leifs' 18-year-old daughter Líf drowned while swimming off the Swedish coast. Grief-stricken, the composer wrote four works dedicated to her memory, among them the Requiem, for mixed choir a cappella. Although this album takes its name after the tone poem(?) of Iceland's greatest volcano, Hekla, its most beautiful work is undeniably the Requiem. It was completed on 31st July, 1947 (opus33b2) while the family was bringing back returning with Líf's body to Iceland. I urge samplers of this disc (and those who think Jón Leifs isn't capable of any peaceful music) to listen to this - and try not to be moved.
Although the name refers to the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead, the vocal text used is a collage of Icelandic folk and contemporary poetry. In its brief 5-minute life, this choral lullaby emanates immense tranquility and beautiful sorrow. An open fifth between A and E dominates the music, giving it a serene halo mixing a sense of mystery, sadness and utter serenity.
Requiem, Op. 33b for mixed choir a cappella. We have written about the primordial, primitive energy present in much of Leifs' music, music which is inspired by the harsh, unforgiving yet spectacularly beautiful landscape of his native Iceland.