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Herbert Howells

Publisher: Novello & Co

Requiem (1936)
Novello & Co Ltd
Chorus a cappella / + 1 instrument
Year Composed
15 Minutes
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Programme Note
Herbert Howells Requiem (1936)
Salvator mundi
Psalm 23
Requiem aeternam 1
Psalm 121
Requiem aeternam 2
I heard a voice from Heaven

The Requiem grew out of sketches for Howells's acknowledged masterpiece - Hymnus Paradisi. This had a long gestation period between 1936 and 1950 when it was first performed, but not so long as this work which was only released in 1980.

The inspiration for this work, as for Hymnus, lay in the death at the age of nine of his only son Michael. It was an emotional and spiritual safety-valve for Howells who in this Requiem has created some of the most sublime music since Palestrina; and what can only be described as the vocal equivalent of Vaughan Williams's Tallis Fantasia.

© Paul Spicer

  • Ensemble
    Finzi Singers
    Paul Spicer
  • Ensemble
    Nicolai Chamber Choir
    Christian Ljunggren
    EMI Records:
In 1935, revered English master Herbert Howells lost his only son to polio at the age of nine, and dealt with his bereavement in music, as composer are wont to do. but the music was so intensely personal that Howells kept his boy's Requiem to himself, refusing to have it performed or published until nearly 40 years later, not long before his own death. It immediately became one of the handful of the twentieth century's most cherished choral masterpieces. ... It's quite simply THE deepest and most sublime artistic distillation of grief and spiritual comfort that I know...
Lindsay Koob, Charleston City Paper,31/05/2012
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