Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem
Stephen Johnson explores Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem. Written in 1940, the work was commissioned by the government of Japan.
Written in 1940, the "Sinfonia da Requiem" was commissioned by the government of Japan, who asked Britten to create a work celebrating the 2600th anniversary of the ruling dynasty. For his part, looking ahead in some ways to the Requiem he would write some years later, Britten, who was a dedicated pacifist, produced a kind of musical plea for peace, which uses part of the Catholic liturgy as movement headings. The overall tone of the score and its links with Christianity resulted in the Japanese commissioners feeling that the composer had rather misunderstood their wishes. Instead, the piece was first performed in America, with a personal dedication to the memory of Britten's parents.