Added relevance for Boston Symphony’s long-planned “War Requiem,” now with Ukraine war as backdrop

Posted on: April 4, 2022

“As the most horrific war in Europe since World War II rages, the Boston Symphony Orchestra with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus will be performing perhaps the most powerful anti-war statement ever written by a European composer: Benjamin Britten’s ‘War Requiem,’ ” writes Arun Rath in Friday’s (4/1) WGBH (Boston). “The piece was written in the shadow of World War II…. It was first performed in the United States in 1963, … by the BSO.” Anthony Fogg, vice president of artistic planning for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, states, “Benjamin Britten … was commissioned to write a work for the reopening of Coventry Cathedral, which had been seriously damaged … [It] was rebuilt and opened in 1962 with this performance… He decided that it would be a statement about the senselessness and the terrible destruction of war [combining] the text of the Latin mass for the dead [and] poetry by the First World War poet Wilfred Owen…. In the original conception, Britten wanted the soloists to be a Russian soprano, an English tenor, a German baritone—so representing the warring factions who were being brought together…. We’re all aware of just how incredible the timing is that we’re doing this piece … against the backdrop of this terrible war.”