Memorial Day is a federal holiday for mourning those who died while serving the United States Armed Forces. There seems to be no clarity on precisely where the first such holiday was established, although the practice of decorating soldiers' graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Sadly, there are always graves to decorate.
We have chosen Benjamin Britten's War Requiem for today. It was commissioned to mark the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, on the site of the original 14th-century structure that had been destroyed in a World War II bombing raid. It was first performed on 30 May 1962.
Britten was a pacifist and conscientious objector. He was inspired by the commission, which gave him complete freedom in deciding what to compose; his intention was to both honor the lives scarificed in war, and as a call to peace. Stylistically influenced by requiems of other composers, such as Verdi, he chose to set the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead interwoven with nine poems about war by the English poet Wilfred Owen. Owen was serving as the commander of a rifle company when he was killed in action on 4 November 1918, just one week before the Armistice. Although he was virtually unknown at the time of his death, he has subsequently come to be revered as one of the great war poets.
It is a long work, but I hope that today you might be able to take the time to spend with this gorgeous music, and its message.
The Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation