In case you’ve already made your will, possibly you’ve additionally stipulated the music you want to be performed on the meeting on your funeral service. After a lifetime in music, and never as soon as having been in a position to nominate a favorite piece, I’ve not too long ago opted for a quiet cremation and a silent scattering of ashes. Stirred by these ideas, I’ve based mostly as we speak’s weblog on the music that some have been impressed to compose following a major one’s passing.
Earlier than we get on to the reflective, sombre stuff, I’m opening with a extra optimistic imaginative and prescient of the afterlife as typically affirmed within the context of faith. Ernst Ludwig I, German nobleman and Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, didn’t get pleasure from a political reign blessed with luck; relatively, it was marked by political failure and private tragedy, not least as a result of his 18-year-old son died shortly earlier than his personal demise throughout a tour of Italy.
Ernst Ludwig, nonetheless, did contribute considerably to the writing of sacred poetry. Starting in his youth, he finally completed two full annual cycles of cantata texts. Whereas nonetheless a younger man, he additionally drafted a sermon to be preached at his interment, and composed a strophic music that he directed must be set to funeral music that may be composed in his reminiscence.
The duty for this composition fell to Johann Ludwig Bach (a distant relative of you understand who), who was Kappellmeister on the Meiningen courtroom. Scored for soloists, 2 choirs and orchestra, his Funeral Music ends with an elaborate setting of a chorale, however we’ll hear the previous music that expresses the thanks of souls obtained into heaven. The textual content interprets as follows:
In thee, Jerusalem,
thou new Divine metropolis,
within the midst of which on his seat
the Lamb has his dwelling,
who elected me from all eternity
to be his servant.
In thee I’ll henceforth
deliver joyful sacrifices,
and with loosened tongue
sing beside God’s host.
Reward, honour, worship, majesty,
reward honour and majesty
and glory, Hallelujah, Amen.
Funeral Music (C10814)
We skip ahead 300 years to a bit that, by pure serendipity, was resurrected from its personal early grave the place it had lain undisturbed for over a century. This was a piece Stravinsky had written to mark the demise of his instructor Rimsky-Korsakov, who handed away in 1908. Funeral Track was premiered throughout a memorial live performance for him on the St. Petersburg Conservatory in early 1909, however fairly why the orchestral elements have been instantly transferred to the conservatory’s archives stays a thriller. No matter, throughout renovation work on the conservatory in 2015, a library worker got here throughout them; the complete rating was simply reassembled from the elements and the work was given its ‘second premiere’ the next 12 months, since when it has turn into a part of the fashionable orchestral repertoire.
In his later years, Stravinsky described the work (which he had devoted to the “reminiscence of my mentor”) as follows: “ … it was a funeral cortège by all of the solo devices within the orchestra, one after the opposite laying down its melody like a wreath on the maestro’s grave … I bear in mind the piece as my greatest work previous to The Firebird. By no means earlier than had I gone to this point in chromatic concord.”
Funeral Track (C5352)
Written some fifteen years earlier, the subsequent work I’ve chosen is by the French composer Albéric Magnard (1865–1914). Albéric was born into an prosperous middle-class household and his father Francis had risen from humble origins to turn into editor of the every day newspaper Le Figaro. Magnard’s childhood was overshadowed by the tragedy of his mom’s suicide, however Francis gave his son the monetary safety that later enabled him to compose in response to his internal drive, relatively than so as to earn a dwelling.
After listening to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in Bayreuth on the age of 20, Magnard deserted the regulation research he had embarked upon to dedicate himself to composition, which then turned the only real focus of his energies. He selected Vincent d’Indy as his instructor, relatively than César Franck, largely due to the previous’s understanding of the orchestra.
Magnard devoted his Chant funèbre (1895) “to the reminiscence of my father”, regardless that the connection between the 2 had been difficult, and nearly non-existent throughout Albéric’s childhood, since he held his father liable for his mom’s demise. Nonetheless, Magnard was very shaken by his father’s passing: “I needed to lose him to know how a lot he meant to me”, he as soon as wrote. He interrupted work on one other piece to jot down this 15-minute tribute: a sluggish, expansive motion of touching simplicity and sincerity, which many contemplate his first true masterpiece. We be a part of the work in its latter phases.
Chant funèbre (8.574084)
Polish composer Witold Lutosławski started work on Funeral Music following a suggestion in 1954 by his distinguished compatriot, the conductor Jan Krenz, that he write one thing to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the demise of Béla Bartók. It took him 4 years to grasp the request. Throughout that interregnum, Lutosławski determined to cease writing as he knew how, and start composing as he wished, stating in 1958:
“What I’ve made on this work is a fancy of signifies that permit me to maneuver with a sure sense throughout the twelve sounds, past, actually, the tonal and dodecaphonic methods. It constitutes for me the start of a brand new interval and is the results of lengthy expertise. I’ve tried to create a fancy of signifies that will turn into my very own. And it’s simply the primary phrase expressed on this new language, however actually not the final.”
Wanting again on the work in 1964, he wrote:
“In dedicating Funeral Music to the reminiscence of Béla Bartók, I wished to have a good time—so far as I may—the tenth anniversary in 1956 of the demise of the good composer. In scripting this work I didn’t attempt to take as a mannequin the music of Bartók itself and the eventual resemblances within the music don’t come from any preconceived resolution. If there really are any, it solely confirms the indubitable proven fact that the research of the work of Bartók was one of many important classes for almost all of composers of my technology.”
Right here’s the second part of the work, headed Metamorphoses.
We finish on a lighter be aware however with a barely macabre undertone, in that our last piece turned synonymous for a lot of with the world of Alfred Hitchcock, the Englishman who made greater than 50 function movies throughout his 60-year profession, lots of which proceed to be aired and broadly seen as we speak. Between 1955 and 1965 he launched an American TV anthology sequence referencing dramas, thrillers and thriller movies, initially titled Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In case you ever puzzled what was the marginally creepy however tongue-in-cheek music that launched the present, it’s Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette, which he initially wrote as a piano solo in 1872 and orchestrated it six years later. The music, along with the nine-stroke caricature line drawing of Hitchcock, most likely endure within the minds of lots of a sure age.
Funeral March of a Marionette (9.70146)