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Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem

Duration: 21:05

Stephen Cleobury conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra in a piece by Benjamin Britten recorded at King's College Cambridge.

This piece was commissioned in 1939 by the Japanese government which was assembling new pieces by various western composers to celebrate the 2600th anniversary of the Imperial Dynasty. Britten was in America at the time, self exiled from home and war by his pacifism. He was entirely unable to oblige with the required festive or triumphal composition, instead taking the opportunity to write something that, as he told his sister would "combine my ideas on war and a memorial for mum and pop".

Sinfonia da Requiem has three movements, each with a resonant title from the Latin Mass. As the work progressed it seemed that no objections were raised, but the finished article was perhaps understandably rejected by the Japanese authorities. It was announced that the work had arrived too late to be rehearsed. Britten was paid for it, and he used the money to buy a car.

BBC Concert Orchestra, conductor Stephen Cleobury
Britten: Sinfonia da Requiem

This clip is from

Sunday Concert BBC CO - Britten, Lennox Berkeley, Howells

Stephen Cleobury conducts the BBC CO in music by Britten, Lennox Berkeley and Howells.

First broadcast: 07 Apr 2013

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