The Requiem repertory is actually very extensive. With the series we hope to deepen knowledge about well-known pieces, and introduce some less well-known ones to specialists, music performers, and a musically interested broad public.
Few western musical repertories speak more to the imagination than the Requiem mass for the dead. The Book of Requiems presents in-depth essays on the most important works in this tradition, from the origins of the genre up to the present day. Volume I treats the Requiem’s liturgical and chant background, the craft of early Requiem composition, and eight of the earliest composed Requiems, from c. 1450 to c. 1550. “Requiems have a special place in today’s musical landscape”, raves editor David Burn.
Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.
The book is about the earliest musical settings of the Requiem mass. It is the first volume of a series which will deal with Requiems up to the present day.
What or who inspired you to choose this topic?
Requiems have a special place in today’s musical landscape. Some, such as those by Mozart and Verdi, are very well known. Less well-known is the tradition that works like those fit into: the Requiem repertory is actually very extensive. With the series we hope to deepen knowledge about well-known pieces, and introduce some less well-known ones to specialists, music performers, and a musically interested broad public.
Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, ...) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?
One interesting, though not wholly reliable, website is www.requiemsurvey.org, which attempts to catalogue the complete Requiem repertory. The site currently lists 5594 Requiems, which gives you an idea of how much music there is in the genre to discover.
How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?
The book is a collection of essays by different authors. All are friends and colleagues, and all were very enthusiastic about the project from the start. I contributed an essay as well, along with editing the whole collection. Probably the most surprising thing was how long it took to complete: the project began in 2013. The initial plan for the book was twice as long, covering the period up to c. 1650, but in the process of production, the book was split into two. The second part will now appear as a second volume in the series.
What would you like readers to remember about your book?
How very much interesting music there is out there that they may not know, and how appreciation of music is enriched by knowledge of the conventions and traditions to which it belongs.
Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about?
The book is the first in a series of at least five volumes that will cover different time periods, chronologically arranged. The second volume is almost complete, and the others are planned in intervals of about two years. Alongside treating settings of the Catholic Requiem mass specifically, we may prepare a volume that deals with other kinds of memorial music, such as the Protestant traditions.
The Book of Requiems, 1450-1550
From the Earliest Ages to the Present Period
David J. Burn (ed.)