Requiem - Songs for Sue


soprano and ensemble of 15 players
Mixed Chamber Ensemble, Soprano
Extracts from: WH Auden, 'If I could tell you I would let you know', Rilke 'Requiem for a Friend', Antonio Machado: 'Los Ojos', self-assembled sequence of 7 Emily Dickinson poems
Instrumentation cl.bcl - 2 hn - perc(1): mar/tam-t - pno(=cel) - harp - 2 vla.2 vlc.1 db
English, German, Spanish

Commissioned for MusicNOW, the new music chamber series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

First Performance
3.4.06: MusicNOW, Chicago, IL: Claire Booth/members of Chicago SO/Oliver Knussen

Score 0-571-53143-1 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

These songs grew from the inclusion of a fragment from Rilke's "Requiem for a Friend" (chosen by Alexander Goehr) in a memorial booklet for Sue Knussen. These extraordinary lines gradually acquired both music and other texts in my mind over the next few years, and Requiem-- Songs for Sue is the outcome (though perhaps there will be more one day). The other words are from Emily Dickinson (an assemblage of lines and verses from several poems), Antonio Machado, and W.H.Auden (a special favourite of Sue's and mine). I hope the music allows them still to speak for themselves, although on occasion I have taken phrases quite far from their original sense. I wanted the sound to be predominantly autumnal in tone, and the instrumentation was chosen to that end: flute, alto flute, two clarinets with bass clarinet, and pairs of horns, violas and 'cellos plus double bass, marimba with tam-tam, keyboards and harp. This Requiem, which plays continuously for a little less than a quarter of an hour, was written for Claire Booth to sing, and commissioned for MusicNOW, the new music chamber series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with whom I conducted the first performance in April 2006.

© Oliver Knussen

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