Mervyn Cooke (b.1963)

Britten – War Requiem

Reading sample

Cambridge Music Handbooks

Boek (softcover)

Item no.695872
Author/ComposerMervyn Cooke
Scope128 pages; 14 × 21.6 cm
Release year1996
Publisher/ProducerCambridge University Press
Producer No.9780521446334
33.40 €
Delivery time approx. 1–2 weeks.
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Widely regarded as one of the greatest choral works of the twentieth century, Britten's War Requiem was first performed at the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1962. It provocatively juxtaposes the vivid anti-war poetry of Wilfred Owen with the Latin Requiem Mass in a passionate outcry against man's inhumanity to man. This handbook explores the background to Britten's use of the Owen texts, charting the development of the composer's lifelong pacifist beliefs and (in a chapter contributed by Philip Reed of the Britten-Pears Library, Aldeburgh) detailing the process of composition from hitherto unpublished correspondence and manuscript sources. The musical structure is investigated, and the work's compositional idiom related to Britten's output as a whole. A concluding chapter surveys the fluctuating critical responses to the score, and includes discussion of the composer's legendary 1963 recording and Derek Jarman's controversial interpretation on film.

  • This is the first book-length study of the work to be published
  • Uses hitherto unpublished documentary and manuscript material
  • Of equal interest to students of literature in its discussions of Wilfred Owen and his text


  • 1 Owen, Britten and pacifism
  • 2 The War Requiem in progress Philip Reed
  • 3 The musical language: idiom and structure
  • 4 Critical reception
  • Appendix
  • Text
  • Select bibliography
  • Index