Continuing our effort to give you some information about the pieces on the upcoming album Britten’s Orchestra with the Kansas City Symphony, we want to give you a little information on Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20. However, this is just a taste as next week we may give more information from our Program Notes.
Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20 was written by Benjamin Britten in 1940 when he was 26 years-old. It was commissioned by the Japanese Government to mark the 2,600th anniversary of the Japanese Empire. Britten’s titles which referred to Christian liturgy were seen as an insult by the Japanese, and the piece was rejected. It was then premiered in Carnegie Hall, New York on March 29th, 1941 with the New York Philharmonic. It wasn’t played in Japan until 1956 with Britten himself conducting.
The piece consists of three movements:
2. Dies Irae
3. Requiem Aeternam
Though the titles come from the Mass for the Dead, Britten simply used the titles to describe the characteristics of the piece – 1. slow lament, 2. Dance of Death, and 3. the final resolution.