Eastern Michigan University
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Duruflé Requiem

Friday, April 17, 2015 ~ Pease Auditorium, Ypsilanti MI ~ 8:00 PM

The EMU Choral Singers and Orchestra are delighted to collaborate on one of the great Choral Orchestral Masterworks. D

Maurice Duruflé, one of several generations of gifted French organist-composers, produced only about fifteen compositions, yet their quality is such that he is particularly celebrated among this group of artists. From the earliest days of his musical education, beginning around his tenth birthday, Duruflé was steeped in the literature of Gregorian chant, and this influence is frequently present in his compositions. Upon his move to Paris in 1919 for studies at the Conservatory, two influences emerge: Charles Tournemire at St. Clotilde, who was strongly rooted in Gregorian chant, and Louis Vierne at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, from whom he particularly gained a sense of compositional structure and form.

Duruflé's Requiem was commissioned in 1947 by the French music publishing company Durand and was written in memory of the composer's father. Gregorian chant is often present in the Requiem, either by quotation or as a kind of musical shadow. Sometimes, as in the first movement, the chant melody is quoted verbatim in one of the chorus parts; other times it appears as an echo. Only occasionally are all of the voices completely new- -"Osanna in excelsis" and the later portions of "Agnus Dei." A second influence in the Requiem can be discerned in that Duruflé's selection of liturgical texts is the same as that used by Gabriel Fauré in his Requiem, completed in 1877: "Dies Irae" is omitted except for its last phrase ("Pie Jesu Domine"), and "Libera me" and "In Paradisum" are borrowed from the Burial Service. The general mood of Duruflé's music also emulates Fauré: not merely peaceful, but at peace amid grief through the gift of God's grace. The richness of Duruflé's Requiem stems from his combination of chant, counterpoint, and church modes with the sumptuous harmony of the French compositional tradition. The early movements of the composition have a deeply felt beauty that leads to, but doesn't reduce the surprise of, the other-worldliness of "In Paradisum": whatever we were or had in this world melts completely away as we are drawn to God's own ineffable presence. - David Mead, ©2010

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