Gabriel Fauré composed his Requiem in D minor, Op. 48 between 1887 and 1890. This choral–orchestral setting of the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead is the best known of his large works. The most famous movement is the soprano aria Pie Jesu. Camille Saint-Saëns said of it, "just as Mozart's is the only Ave verum Corpus, this is the only Pie Jesu.
Fauré's reasons for composing his Requiem are uncertain. One possible impetus may have been the death of Fauré's father in 1885, and his mother's death two years later on New Year's Eve 1887. However, by the time of his mother's death he had already begun the work, which he later declared was "composed for nothing … for fun, if I may be permitted to say so!
The earliest composed music included in the Requiem is the "Libera Me", which Fauré wrote in 1877 as an independent work.
In 1887–88, Fauré composed the first version of the work, which he called "un petit Requiem with five movements (Introit and Kyrie, Sanctus, Pie Jesu, Agnus Dei and In Paradisum), but did not include the "Libera Me". This version was first performed January 16, 1888 under the composer’s direction in La Madeleine in Paris. The treble soloist was Louis Aubert, and the occasion was the funeral of one Joseph La Soufaché, an architect.
In 1889, Fauré added the "Hostias" portion of the Offertory and in 1890 he expanded the Offertory and added the 1877 "Libera Me". This second version, known today as the chamber orchestra version, was premièred January 21, 1893, again at the Madeleine with Fauré conducting.
In 1899–1900, the score was reworked for full orchestra. There is some question as to whether this was the work of Fauré himself or one of his students (see below). This version was premiered April 6, 1900, with Eugène Ysaÿe conducting. It was the best known version until John Rutter rediscovered Fauré's original manuscript of the chamber orchestra version in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in the early 1980s.
In 1924 the Requiem was performed at Fauré's own funeral. It was not performed in the United States until 1931, and then only at a student concert at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. It did not reach England until 1936.
The piece has a duration of about 35 minutes. It consists of seven movements:
All the text is in Latin (except for the Kyrie, which is Classical Greek). As had become normal, Fauré did not set the Gradual and Tract sections of the Mass, but he further departed from convention by not setting the Requiem Sequence (the Dies irae poem, which contains other well-known sections such as the Rex tremendae and Lacrimosa). He slightly altered the texts of the Introit, the Kyrie, Pie Jesu, the Agnus Dei, and In Paradisum, but changed substantially the text of the Offertory (described below). He did not set the Benedictus (an optional, but conventional, adjunct to the Sanctus), and added the motet Pie Jesu and two texts from the Order of Burial, Libera me and In Paradisum.
Fauré's alterations to the text of the Offertory are as follows. He adds "O" at the beginning. He changes "libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum" ("deliver the souls of all the faithful departed") to simply "libera animas defunctorum" ("deliver the souls of the departed"), which, it can be argued, is a fundamental theological change. He replaces "Libera eas" ("Deliver them") at the beginning of the next verse with a repetition of "O Domine Jesu Christe, Rex gloriae, libera animas defunctorum", and he omits the third verse (beginning "Sed signifer sanctus..."). He adds "Amen" at the end.
Versions and Orchestrations
The work exists in three versions. The original version is the smallest, five movements in length. It is scored for
Fauré scored the second version in 1893. In addition to the new movements, this version adds the following instruments to the orchestration:
The third arrangement (which may have been arranged by a student of his) adds more woodwinds, brass, and strings, and was the most commonly performed until the 1980s, when the second version was rediscovered, edited, and championed by John Rutter. This full orchestration comprises:
- mixed choir
- solo boy soprano
- solo baritone
- 2 flutes
- 2 clarinets (only in the "Pie Jesu")
- 2 bassoons
- 4 horns
- 2 trumpets (only in the "Kyrie" and "Sanctus")
- 3 trombones
- timpani (only in the "Libera me")
- strings (with just a single section of violins, but divided violas and cellos, as before)
Authenticity of the third version
Rutter's preface to the score includes the following discussion regarding the authenticity of the third version:
- "How and why the third version came about is not entirely clear. Dr. [Robert] Orledge surmises that Fauré's publisher Hamelle urged him to prepare a 'version symphonique' in order to secure more performances — to turn the Requiem into a concert work, in fact. In a letter of 1898, Fauré promised Hamelle to prepare the score for publication, though no question of reorchestration was mentioned; Fauré asked, however, if he could delegate the piano reduction for the vocal score to someone else (his favorite pupil Jean Roger-Ducasse was entrusted with the task). The evidence that Roger-Ducasse (or someone else) also relieved Fauré of the task of reorchestrating the work is conjectural but, I think, convincing: first. Fauré is known to have delegated the scoring of others of his works to assistants; second, he was burdened with teaching and administrative duties and may well not have had the time to rescore it himself; third, the published score has literally hundreds of misprints and other inaccuracies which the normally meticulous Fauré would never have let past had he been sent the printer's proofs for correction. If he had prepared the score, he would have been sent proofs; the conclusion seems inescapable that someone relatively inexperienced both made the score and read the proofs."
Fauré on his Requiem
- “Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.”
- "It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience. The music of Gounod has been criticized for its overinclination towards human tenderness. But his nature predisposed him to feel this way: religious emotion took this form inside him. Is it not necessary to accept the artist's nature? As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different.
Use in Pop Culture
Many of the movements have been used in movies, in tv shows, and by other artists. The two most used are Pie Jesu
and In paradisum
- In Desperate Battle: Normandy 1944 (1992), a documentary
- Inspector Morse (TV series) (1987-2000) In Paradisum; In the final episode of the TV series, "The Remorseful Day," Inspector Morse collapses from a heart attack in the front quadrangle as In Paradisum is sung in the chapel
- South Park (TV series) (2007), Pie Jesu was featured in the season 11 episode "Lice Capades".
Music (By movement then date):
- In Paradisum
- Suns of Arqa An Electronic/Anglo-Indian Pop band used the movement in their album Land of a Thousand Churches (1994).
- Michel Pepe Eurasia (1994) New Age
- Gregorian (band) Chill Out (2002)
- Arielle Dombasle Extase (2002)
- Disinterested An Indie-Rock Band with guest artist Dino Palazzi; The Past is Never Far (2002)
- Missa Johnouchi New Age artist Friends (2003)
- William Harper (composer) a classical/electronic composer who uses the piece on his album Requiem (2004)
- Glorior Belli O Laudate Dominus Death Metal Band (2005)
- Hans-Andre Stamm Secret Garden (2006) New Age
- Sissel Into Paradise (2007)New Age
- All Angels Into Paradise (2007)
- Blake Blake (2007) Jazz
- Chris Michell Reflections (2007) New Age
- Kelley Polar I need you to hold on while the sky is falling (2008) electronic
- Libera Me
- Timmins Youth Singers, Rosanne Simunovic Conductor Scenes from a Dream (2001) Pop
- Rutter, John. Preface to Requiem Op. 48, by Gabriel Fauré. Chapel Hill, NC: Hinshaw Music, 1984.
- Steinberg, Michael. "Gabriel Fauré: Requiem, Op. 48." Choral Masterworks: A Listener's Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, 131–137.