There was no mysterious masked figure with a bag of silver. And I’m pretty sure none of my rivals tried to poison me. And unlike Mozart with his Requiem, although it took me a while, I did at least manage to complete mine. Mozart of course is incomparable. But I’ve wondered of late whether composers are spooked by his conviction that he was writing his own funeral music or just whether it’s the size of the undertaking – a new Requiem is a comparatively rare beast.

Paul Stanhope Paul Stanhope. Photo supplied

A Requiem is essentially the sung part of a funeral church service in the Catholic tradition. The nickname ‘Requiem’ literally means ‘rest’ and comes from the opening line of the Mass: Grant unto them eternal rest O Lord.

Its movements weren’t set in stone until the Council of Trent, the ecumenical meetings of the Catholic Church which began in 1545, prompted by the Protestant revolution. Among other pronouncements, the Council standardised the Requiem Mass movements which shift from dramatic utterances such as the Dies Iraesequence – “The...

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