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Andrew Imbrie
1921 - 2007
United States of America, NY
A.W. Imbrie
Andrew Welsh [Andrew] Imbrie (06/04/1921 - 05/12/2007), an American composer, born in New York. He studied with Leo Ornstein, Nadia Boulanger, and Roger Sessions, with whom he studied from 1937 to 1948. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley since 1949, and at the San Francisco Conservatory since 1970.
Imbrie has composed works for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, and stage, and his music has been praised for its profound integrity, ardent expression, and an intense drive and conviction. Imbrie's list of prestigious commissions and honors begins from his earliest days as a composition student. The first of his five string quartets, written while at Princeton, won the New York Music Critics' Circle Award in 1944. Other commissions include works for the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Halle Orchestra, San Francisco Opera, the Naumburg Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the Pro Arte Quartet. His awards include the Prix de Rome, two Guggenheim Fellowships, The Walter M. Naumburg Recording Award, and membership in the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
Composed in:1984
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass and texts by William Blake, George Herbert and Donne
In memory of:his son, John H. Imbrie, who died at the age of 19, in 1981
Label(s):Bridge 9091
The requiem for Soprana, mixed choir and Orchestra.
It contains:
01. Requiem and Kyrie
02. To the Evening Star
03. Dies Irae
04. Prayer
05. Offertory
06. Death Be Not Proud and Conclusion

♫ 01. Requiem and Kyrie
© Bridge Records 9091

♫ 02. To the Evening Star
© Bridge Records 9091

♫ 03. Dies Irae
© Bridge Records 9091

♫ 04. Prayer
© Bridge Records 9091

♫ 05. Offertory
© Bridge Records 9091

♫ 06. Death Be Not Proud and Conclusion
© Bridge Records 9091
Imbrie's requiem was written in memory of his son, John H. Imbrie, who died at the age of 19, in 1981. Not surprisingly, it is a heartfelt lament, moving and personal. The composer has chosen to interpolate texts of William Blake (1757 - 1827), George Herbert (1593 - 1633), and John Donne (1572 - 1631), three English poets, into the Latin mass, recalling Britten's War Requiem, which is also a reasonable comparison for the musical language, though Imbrie moves further in the direction of atonality than the mature Britten. The Mass sections have the large-scale, public mourning mood appropriate to their texts, while the poetry is set in a more personal, less dramatic, questioning idiom.
Requiem for SATB choir, soprano solo and orchestra. Imbrie's Requiem is a response, in music, to the sudden death of his son John in 1981. The work was commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and premiered in 1985.
Andrew Imbrie: “The opening Requiem and Kyrie is quiet and solemn in character. With To the Evening Star, I wanted something light to set off the Dies Irae effectively -- the high soprano solo contrasts with the preceding choral texture, the English text with the preceding Latin. The imagery of the poem suggests human innocence and vulnerability, a craving for protection against forces of darkness.
"The Dies Irae is the central and most extended movement. The Latin text deals, of course, with the terror of death and the dread of divine retribution. Other composers have been stirred by the inexorable tolling of its regular metrical structure, by its powerful imagery of the last trumpet, by its human appeal for divine mercy. I hope in my own way, to carry on this tradition. I have omitted several stanzas of the poem, preferring to concentrate it and to bring it into balance with the other elements chosen for setting.
"Evening Prayer deals with prayer as a human, sensual experience, suggesting the union of man with God through direct communication. Again, the soprano comes to the fore as protagonist, aided this time by entrances of the chorus in the background. The culmination of this vocal texture comes at the climax on the word 'Paradise,' after which the chorus remains silent while the soprano finishes her song.
"In the Latin text, the Offertory is an actual prayer, not a poem about prayer. The choral and instrumental setting is intended to reflect its ritual quality, enhancing it by the alternation of male and female voices and by the ornamental use of tuned drums. Only in the middle, where the chorus prays that the dead be granted eternal life, does the music escape from this implied formality.
"Death be Not Proud and Conclusion consists of three parts. The first is an extended, agitated orchestral introduction, which was needed in order to generate the energy for the setting of John Donne's sonnet. Here, the chorus sings in English for the first time and sings only one melody in unison and octaves. This culminating expression of human faith in an ultimate victory over death is followed by a foreshortened setting of the concluding parts of the Latin Requiem, in which the soprano soloist, singing in Latin for the first time, participates by interjecting a 'Benedictus', reaching the highest notes of her range. After this, while the listener holds those high notes in memory, together with the preceding choral sounds, the music subsides quickly to its conclusion, recalling the opening of the work."
Author:Andrew Imbrie
Picture Picture Picture
J. Donne
G. Herbert
W. Blake