Introducing the Berlioz Requiem - 3

The third movement of the Requiem, "Quid sum miser," offers an extended example of the more personal perspective of the individual soul in the midst of cataclysmic events. The simplicity of this sparsely orchestrated movement, where only one section of the chorus or one section of the orchestra is heard at a time gives us the same kind of feeling we might have standing alone in the quiet of a forest or at the seashore at night.

Introducing the Berlioz Requiem - 2

The second movement of the Berlioz Requiem is the "Dies Irae" - Berlioz takes a quite different approach to this iconic text than Mozart or Verdi.   Beginning quietly with a unison theme in the basses and cellos, he continues to present new themes layered on top of the old ones until a shattering climax is reach for the "Tuba mirum" - the sound of the trumpet at the day of judgment.


The chapel of Saint-Louis des Invalides – 5 December 1837. The above engraving shows the funeral service for General Damrémont at which the Requiem was performed for the first time. The original copy of this engraving is in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. (from the Hector Berlioz Website)